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Lasell Associate Vice President and Dean Receives Eugene O’Neill Medallion

August 10, 2017

Steven Bloom receiving the Eugene O'Neill MedallionNot only is Steven Bloom Lasell College's Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Education, but he is an award-winning Eugene O'Neill scholar who has published two books about O'Neill along with various scholarly articles.  Bloom was one of the recipients of the 2017 Eugene O'Neill Medallion Award from the Eugene O'Neill Society, alongside Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange.  Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland, was the featured speaker at the Society's awards dinner, and met with Bloom and his fellow award recipients.

Bloom's scholarship of O'Neill began with his love of the theatre.  When he was in high school, he attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, intending to become an actor.  His performing ambitions soon turned toward directing and writing, causing him to pursue an English degree at the University of Rochester.  It was there that Bloom studied the works of Edward Albee, who was, according to Bloom, "the hot new American playwright" at the time.  "Albee has a lot of drinking and alcoholism in his plays," says Bloom, "But, when I was in graduate school (at Brandeis University), I started reading more American literature, especially American dramas, and it became clear that drinking and alcoholism was kind of pervasive in a lot of American writers."  It was then that Bloom was drawn to the works of Eugene O'Neill and O'Neill's unique use of alcoholism in his plays.  "O'Neill was depicting alcoholism and intoxication on the stage differently from what had preceded him," says Bloom, "The drunk would've been seen as a comic figure, or sometimes alcohol was the villain.  But O'Neill was the first one who presented characters who weren't being judged for being alcoholics, but who were more sympathetic."  

While working on his dissertation on O'Neill, Bloom came into contact with Fred Wilkins, Editor of the Eugene O'Neill Newsletter and Professor of English at Suffolk University. Wilkins soon became Bloom's mentor and introduced him to the Eugene O'Neill Society.  "He was planning the first big conference on O'Neill here in Boston," says Bloom about Wilkins, "And, he invited me to help him organize it.  I gave a paper at that conference, but then started to publish more articles and go to society sessions they had at different conferences."  Bloom then joined the Board of the Eugene O'Neill Society in 2000, and became president 2006-2007.  He currently serves as the Chair of the Governing Board of Directors.  

After years of study of O'Neill and his works, and service to the Eugene O'Neill Society, Bloom was honored with the Eugene O'Neill Medallion Award.  The Society writes, "The Medallion recognizes distinguished O'Neillians who have dedicated significant portions of their careers to furthering knowledge and appreciation of O'Neill."  While such an accomplishment can be viewed as a lifetime achievement award, Bloom says "I'd like to think that I'm not done yet."   

Indeed, as an administrator at Lasell, Bloom says he keeps up with his work with O'Neill and the Society to continue, in Lasell tradition, to be a life-long learner: "It is important to me to remain active as a scholar partly because I see my role as Dean as a kind of mentor to other faculty, but also I have a life-long love of the theatre, and my work with O'Neill has kept me connected to the theatre." 

Eugene O'Neill Medallions recipients with president of Ireland