Steven Marcus, a Columbia College professor "who transformed literary criticism into a lens on history and society by revealing a subculture of Victorian pornography and psychoanalyzing characters in Charles Dickens's novels," died April 25, the New York Times reported. He was 89. In academia, "he was most admired as a teacher and mentor. Kate Millett began writing Sexual Politics, her 1970 feminist classic, as her doctoral dissertation under his guidance," the Times noted.
In literary circles, Marcus was respected and sometimes challenged, as an unconventional critic, the Times wrote. His books include Dickens: From Pickwick to Dombey (1965); The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-19th Century England (1966); Freud and the Culture of Psychoanalysis: Studies in the Transition from Victorian Humanism to Modernity (1984); and Representations: Essays on Literature and Society (1976).
Marcus had said that Lionel Trilling, under whom he studied and with whom he collaborated on editing an abridged version of Ernest Jones's three-volume biography of Sigmund Freud, as well as Jacques Barzun influenced him most by pointing him "in the direction I wanted to have in academic life."