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Renee Hubert, 89; Taught Literature at UC Irvine

Times Staff Writer

Renee Riese Hubert, a professor of French and comparative literature who helped found graduate departments in those subjects at UC Irvine, has died. She was 89.

Hubert died Wednesday of a heart attack at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, said Judd Hubert, her husband.

In recent years, Hubert became known for studying the relationship between literature and painting. She published three books on the subject, including “Magnifying Mirrors: Women, Surrealism, and Partnership” (1994). A Times review said one of the book’s strengths was its “detailed look at the widely varying artistic lives of lesser-known women surrealists.”

She wrote her last book, “The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists Books” (1998), with her husband, who also was a professor of French at UC Irvine. Hubert also published at least six books of poetry in French.

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Hubert was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, to Jewish parents, who were both physicians, and raised in Frankfurt. In 1933, the family immigrated to France, and she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. She moved to England on the day World War II began, her husband said, and taught there until 1944, when she took a Danish freighter to join her parents in Virginia.

She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University, where she met her husband, a fellow doctoral student. The couple adopted a 9-year-old girl in 1974.

Hubert taught at several universities, including San Fernando Valley State College, which would become Cal State Northridge, before joining UC Irvine in 1967, two years after the campus opened. She stayed for 20 years.

During frequent trips to Paris, the couple built an extensive collection of 17th-century French literature. Hubert also was a collector of books by surrealists.

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In addition to her husband, Hubert is survived by her daughter, Candice Hubert of Newport Beach. Her sister, the abstract artist Beatrice Riese, died last year.


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