Deborah Lynn Steinberg
My friend Deborah Lynn Steinberg, who has died aged 55 of breast cancer, was a feminist cultural theorist committed to scholarship and teaching. She made a huge contribution to the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, the sociology department and the faculty of social sciences at Warwick University.
Deborah was born and brought up in Los Angeles, the daughter of Irwin, a radiologist, and his wife, Maxine (nee Beckerman), a lawyer, and attended schools in the city, including University high school. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a BA in women’s studies.
She then moved to Britain, gaining an MA at Kent University and her PhD at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, Birmingham, where she and I met as doctoral students. Deborah’s academic appointments, first at Birkbeck and then at Warwick, were in sociology departments, but she was first and foremost a feminist cultural theorist. She became professor of gender, culture and media studies at Warwick in 2008.
Deborah could be combative about academic rigour and social justice – and she could argue her point from an extraordinarily wide and deep knowledge. Some found her intimidating, but she was a brilliant scholar who was also generous to her students.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, but was given the all clear in 2013. However, the disease returned the following year. She was determined to continue working for as long as possible and was supervising doctoral students and chairing the graduate studies committee of the faculty of social sciences until January.
Recently, Deborah examined cultural constructions of the cancer patient, writing analytically and personally in a study, The Bad Patient: Estranged Subjects of the Cancer Culture. She also wrote a blog, including both poetry and prose, about her personal journey.
Deborah’s work was beginning to receive the wider recognition it deserved. Her last book, Genes and the Bio imaginary: Science, Spectacle, Culture (2015), received excellent reviews, including in the Guardian.
She is survived by her partner, Gershon Silins, her parents and her brother, David.
Deborah Lynn Steinberg, a leading feminist theorist, became professor of gender, culture and media studies at Warwick University in 2008