- Robert C. Holub
- Helen Fehervary
- Werner Haas
- David Neal Miller
- Heimtraut F. Taylor
- Ilsedore Maria Edse
- Alexander Stephan
- Charles W. Hoffmann
Robert C. Holub (1949 - 2023)
Bob Holub died at his home in Worthington, Ohio, on Sunday August 27, 2023. He had just turned 74. With his deep voice, leaderly bearing, and sharp eye for flawed logic, Bob could be an imposing presence. But there were many sides to him: efficient in the extreme as an administrator, he was also a warm, witty person, and he will be remembered as a generous colleague, an adoring father and husband, and a loyal friend.
Bob was born in Belmar, New Jersey and grew up in nearby Asbury Park. At UPenn, he majored in Natural Sciences. He went on to earn two MA degrees in literary studies—one from Berlin’s Freie Universität in 1973, the other from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1975. His PhD thesis, which examines Heinrich Heine’s reception of German grecophilia, was written at UW Madison under the direction of Jost Hermand, with whom Bob remained lifelong friends. In 1979, the year he completed his dissertation, he joined the German department at UC Berkeley as an assistant professor, moving there with his first wife, Renate, and infant son Alexei.
It didn’t take Bob long to embrace a trio of Bay Area teams: the A’s, the 49ers, and his beloved Golden State Warriors. He took only little longer to establish himself as a major figure in German studies. Bob published five books and three edited volumes over the first thirteen years of his career, while organizing conferences and reading groups, rarely missing lectures hosted by his department, and bringing great energy and skill to his teaching duties and service assignments—he was truly a model citizen of the research university. The topics he addressed ranged from Heine’s essays (he could recite whole passages) to the work of Jürgen Habermas, whose theory of communicative reason he admired.
Bob used to say about his book Reflections of Realism (1991), which added to his reputation as an authority on nineteenth-century German culture, that he wrote it to show his Berkeley colleagues he could pull off close readings of literature. The subtlety of his readings there belies that claim, as do both the sense of full engagement that breathes out of them and the scope of Reflections, which encompasses more than a hundred years of literary production. But Bob also had a gift for laying out and contextualizing methods of literary analysis, and during this phase of his career he was probably best known for his works on reception theory and the relation between deconstruction and hermeneutics. Equipped with that expertise, he played a prominent role in the prolonged methodological self-reckoning German studies underwent in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, contributing to forums in scholarly journals, participating in roundtable discussions, and, in general, advocating for the field to move in the direction of intellectually rigorous, ethically engaged cultural studies.
As these debates trailed off, Bob began to devote more of himself to administrative work, an area where he had already achieved considerable success. His tenure as chair of German at Berkeley began just after the department was under receivership; shortly before it ended, the National Research Council honored the department with a number one ranking. During his time as chair (1991-1997), Bob initiated major curricular changes, secured funding for infrastructural improvements, and redoubled recruiting efforts. He also oversaw a process of administrative restructuring that was widely emulated at the university.
In 2003, Bob was appointed to the Berkeley’s budget committee, for which he was a good fit. Not only did he have no fear of spreadsheets, but the position entailed reviewing the research accomplishments of colleagues from every corner of the university, and Bob appreciated success in research in a decidedly non-parochial way. His performance stood out, and in 2006 he was named dean of the undergraduate division in Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science. In this capacity he coordinated a vast number of reading and composition courses and freshman seminars, involved himself in fundraising efforts, and worked to improve the quality of undergraduate advising. Here, too, his performance stood out, enabling him to move, after only three years, from his deanship to the position of provost at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Bob relished the expansiveness of his new job and spoke excitedly about his efforts in many different areas: affordability and retention; DEI; athletics; collaborating with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, boosting faculty compensation, and so on.
In 2008, Bob left UT to become the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Arriving at a time of financial meltdown, he obviously had his work cut out for him. Yet over the next four years, he managed to generate new recurring revenues of more than $22 million, and the number of undergraduate applications rose, as did the number of Pell grant recipients, the number of minority students, faculty compensation, the rate of retention for first-year and second-year students, and the number of faculty research awards. The university’s US News and World Report ranking rose, too, going from 52 in 2010 to 42 in 2012, the second largest jump in the nation during those two years. Bob’s life was one of constant bustle: beyond the work of planning and managing, he and Sabine, his second wife, hosted countless receptions; he traveled frequently; there were snow emergencies and various other kinds of local crises to handle; and when he took the Amherst job, his daughters, Madelaine, Shoshanah, and Natalie, were eight, five, and one, respectively. But the mission of improving a public research university meant so much to Bob, and his successes were thus so energizing, that the extent of his busyness seemed to be a non-issue. What did leave him depleted was how his tenure as chancellor ended, which had a lot to do with a gubernatorial regime change and the political maneuvering that attended it.
Bob came to Columbus in 2012 feeling aggrieved: he saw it as a terrible irony that he, a person who took such pains to treat people fairly, had been treated so unfairly. But he warmed to his new existence as a suburban dad in central Ohio. In particular, he enjoyed attending his daughters’ athletic events—he drove to swim meets all over the Midwest, earning the “swim taxi” magnet he put on his car. While Bob found much to poke fun at in the culture of high-level youth sports, his daughters’ accomplishments in the pool (and elsewhere) caused him to visibly kvell, and in his cerebral way he threw himself into the sport, processing a large amount of statistical information that he would relate with his characteristic clarity. The extraordinarily beautiful home that he and Sabine created together was a source of pride, too. He derived great pleasure from being there with his family—from the liveliness and conversational intensity that characterized the whole operation. One year, a headline in the Holub Gazette, his self-satirizing holiday card, broke the news: “Robert Gets a Word in During Family Dinner.”
Bob also enjoyed his return to scholarship, which proved fruitful. Having long been interested in both Friedrich Nietzsche and the complexities of German antisemitism, he was drawn to the intersection of those topics, and in 2016 he published Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem. The book disentangles the apparent contradiction between Nietzsche’s anti-Jewish attitudes and his hatred of antisemitism. It has been hailed as a landmark study. Nietzsche in the Nineteenth Century, another major accomplishment, appeared just two years later. Here Bob documents and analyzes how much Nietzsche thought about the key social issues of his day, and, crucially, reveals how that engagement helped shape Nietzsche’s philosophical work. This book, too, has received much praise.
Just as in the past, Bob managed to produce first-rate scholarship without pulling back from other professional activities. He came to Ohio State as the Ohio Eminent Scholar of German, which made him a member of the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee, and he used his access to the president and provost to give them constructive but unvarnished feedback. Bob served on many other committees in the same highly engaged manner, which also describes how he contributed to the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate. Even after his term as the Germanic department’s representative had ended, he went to ASC Senate meetings, playing an especially important role in the discussions about General Education reform. And there is more: Bob served as chair of Germanic from 2014 to 2023. He worked hard to promote robust intellectual exchange and create an atmosphere that all the department’s members—students, staff, lecturers, faculty—would find supportive. One of his strategies for the former pursuit was to host an annual conference that brings together German faculty from all over Ohio. Another strategy was to enhance the department’s seminar room, which he did with money from his Eminent Scholar fund. The room will be named in his honor.
Helen Fehervary (1942 - 2023)
We honor the life of Professor Emerita Helen Fehervary, who died April 13th in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We remember her spirited generosity and her devotion to her daughter. We recall the way she was able to "weave in and out of authors, philosophers, and historians, connecting pieces of everything together as if it were one of the Seghers' stories she loved." We are grateful that she energetically shared her encyclopedic knowledge with us. "Her mind was a keen and beautiful tapestry and she was extraordinary," wrote a graduate student.
Helen was kind and caring, presenting us with delicious herbs from her garden that she dried and lovingly packed in jam jars at the end of the year. And her strength! A broken hip she suffered whilst in Florence, Italy several years ago didn’t stop her for long. No one in our Department had a greater passion for German literature, and no faculty member was more committed to teaching students about the German literary tradition. No one had more joie de vivre or a greater dedication to their profession.
Born in Hungary, young Helen came to the United States in 1949. Earning degrees from Smith College and Brown University, Helen wrote her doctoral dissertation, Hölderlin and the Left : the search for a dialectic of art and life, under the direction of Jost Hermand at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1975.
Professor Fehervary had a long and distinguished career at Ohio State that began with her appointment as an assistant professor in 1974. She was an established Seghers, Brecht, Müller, and Wolf scholar and her research and teaching specializations included twentieth-century German literature, intellectual history, culture; Weimar Republic, exile 1930s and 1940s, Germany East and West 1945-1990; Holocaust-related topics, Central European modernism; comparative literature, women's literature, German-Jewish literature; narrative prose; literature and art history. She wrote extensively about twentieth-century Jewish German and Central European intellectual history and critical theory, as well as Jewish contributions to Modern German drama, theatre and film.
In 1993, she received the Helen Hooven Santmyer Prize in Women's Studies for Salvador’s Children: A Song for Survival, written under the pen name of Lea Marenn. The prize, established by the Ohio State University Press, is awarded annually for the “best book-length manuscript on the contributions of women, their lives and experiences, and their role in society.” Other major awards were presented to her by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Association of University Women, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, International Research and Exchanges Board, Ohio Humanities Council, and the Ohio Arts Council.
Professor Fehervary chaired over thirty MA and PhD Examinations and directed more than a dozen dissertations at Ohio State in a career spanning over four decades. In 2018, Kristy R. Boney and Jennifer Marston William co-edited a Festschrift entitled Dimensions of Storytelling in German Literature and Beyond: For Once, Telling It All from the Beginning, in tribute to Professor Fehervary. Nineteen contributors celebrated her work, particularly on the prose of Anna Seghers, which continues to inspire scholars who examine narration and storytelling.
Graduate students have expressed that Helen inspired them greatly, both in their professional and in their personal lives. They remember her long-lasting valuable mentorship, revolutionary spirit, and that her instincts were always right as they discussed history and dissertation drafts together.
Students will also miss Professor Fehervary’s involvement in bringing drama to the Department. For example, in spring 2010, she organized a GLL theater workshop for undergraduate and graduate students that culminated in a public performance on the 16th of May, directed by Alexander Stillmark of Berlin, of Heiner Müller’s Die Hamletmaschine.
After retiring in the spring of 2015, Helen continued as the General Editor of the Anna Seghers Werkausgabe, 25 volumes (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 2000). This past November, the 14th volume was published. Read more about the series at the Aufbau Verlag page: https://www.anna-seghers.de/buecher.php
She also took part in the 2020-21 Emeritus Academy Lecture Series, recording Peter Lorre and Bertolt Brecht: a working relationship and friendship beyond Hollywood.
The world is a poorer place without Helen’s feisty and courageous presence. She is already missed by many colleagues, students, and staff members.
We extend heartfelt condolences to Helen’s daughter María and to friends and relatives in Europe.
Werner Haas (1928-2021)
We mourn the passing of Professor Emeritus of Austrian History and German Language Instruction Werner Haas, who left us on September 30th. We remember his spirit, collegiality and generosity, and his devotion to teaching the German language and bringing students and members of the community closer to Austrian culture.
Born in Graz, Austria, Professor Haas came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in 1951 after earning both the M.A. and the Ph.D. from Karl-Franzens Universität. In the autumn of 1967, he joined the Department of German at Ohio State as the Director of Language Instruction, a position he held until 1979. During these years, he worked together with Professor Heimy Taylor on three innovative and effective computer programs: Deutscher Computer Unterricht (1973; rev. 1974, 1975), Tutorial Computer (1974), and Deutscher Computer Unterricht for Individualized Instruction (1978). Professor Haas retired from the department in 1997, when he was granted Emeritus faculty status by the Board of Trustees.
In the summer of 1986, Prof. Haas travelled to Austria as the director of language at the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in his hometown of Graz. Two-hundred opera singers, 80 orchestra musicians and 70 staff members from around the world learned the German language from him that summer. Over the course of many more summers, he taught there together with colleagues from the department and offered a number of graduate students the opportunity both to teach in a non-university setting and to immerse themselves in Styrian and opera culture. In July of 2018, the local newspaper honored him as “Steirer des Tages” in “Von Graz nach Ohio und retour.” Werner’s generosity of spirit and mentorship was deeply appreciated by everyone at AIMS. Particularly memorable was his lecture in the course, “Daily Conversational German for Musicians.”
Beginning in 1982, Werner and his wife Isolde regularly led study tours to Austria for the Smithsonian Institution, giving many central Ohioans an opportunity to experience Austria together with native guides.
Not very many people knew that Werner was a member of the Austrian National Gymnastics team from 1949-55. He was a life-long tennis player and skier.
Werner Haas authored a number of well-received monographs and textbooks, including: Aus deutscher Geschichte (1966); Die Deutschen und die Oesterreicher (1969); Bismarck (1972); co-authored Fortschritt Deutsch (1975); co-authored Perspektiven zu aktuellen Fragen (1978); DECU: Deutscher Computer Unterricht (1972); TUCO (1973); co-authored Anders gelehrt, anders gelernt (1978); Deutsch für Kadetten (1982); Sprechen wir darüber (1984); co-authored German, A Self-Teaching Guide (1986) and Deutsch für alle. Beginning College German: A Comprehensive Approach (1980, 1983, 1987, 4th ed. 1993). Deutsch für alle was on the 101-103 course syllabi for a dozen years!
Here at Ohio State, his students benefitted from the courses Professor Haas taught in Stylistics, Early German Literature in Cultural Contexts, Composition and Conversation, Current Events in German-speaking Countries, Contemporary German, and German Culture of the 19th and 20th Century. They remember him as an effective communicator in the classroom and a professor who worked hard to dispel stereotypes. Professor Vitt remembers that “Werner was always very happy, and at Department Picnics or other social functions/festivities he would play the accordion!! It is, of course, very Austrian, and he was quite good at it… It was, sort of, typically Werner Haas!”
We extend our condolences to Werner's wife Isolde, his brother Gerald, and his children Brenda, Arnold and Norbert, his nephews and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As we mourn his passing we also celebrate the life and contributions of this wonderful colleague, teacher, scholar, and friend.
We honor the life of Professor David Neal Miller. He grew up in Crown Heights within earshot of Ebbets Field. His New York roots were everything to him. ''I'm a Brooklyn boy,'' he was quoted as saying over and over again. From 1995-2013, Professor Miller administered a website, 1010 President Street, named for his childhood home. The site was a forum for other Brooklynites, present and former, to record their recollections of the borough.
Dovid Miller completed his doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was not only a polyglot but a scholar and writer familiar with numerous literatures and cultures. In 1980, he took a position as an instructor at Ohio State and was quickly promoted to the rank of Assistant, then Associate Professor. A colleague in Germanic Languages and Literatures writes, “he certainly knew more about German literature than did his colleagues about his own fields of expertise. In the modern period he was an enthusiastic aficionado of Bertolt Brecht and epic theater. Having read most of Brecht’s poems and plays and having seen theater productions by the Berliner Ensemble in East Berlin, he was able to recite lines from Brecht’s plays and songs by heart. One of his favorites was Brecht’s libretto for Paul Dessau’s opera The Condemnation of Lucullus (the Roman general who after his death is tried by judge and jury in the underworld), from which Dovid was able to sing extended passages with conviction and zest.”
In the summer of 1980, before beginning at Ohio State, Dovid taught a course at SUNY-Albany, Great Yiddish Authors in English Translation, together with Isaac Bashevis Singer. In Columbus, Professor Miller taught Yiddish literature, Ashkenazic cultural studies, narratology, and critical theory courses. He offered many courses to expose students to Yiddish and Ashkenazic culture. Yiddish language, Literature in Translation, Yiddish culture, and Brooklyn: The Poetics of Place, were courses popular with undergraduate students. In 1984, Prof. Miller worked to initiate the Minor in Yiddish at Ohio State. Several years later, the Master of Arts became an option, and then a PhD since 1996, when Yiddish and Ashkenazic Studies moved to the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Prof. Miller successfully directed the programs for many years. In 2006, Prof. Miller traveled to the People’s Republic of China and soon established a vibrant scholarly exchange. The first postdoc to engage in this exchange later returned to Shanghai and helped to reintroduce Jewish American studies to the PRC.
Dovid’s visiting appointments over the years included SUNY at Albany, Bar-Ilan University, Fudan University, Oxford University, and Vilnius University. He published A Bibliography of Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1924-1949 (1983), and Fear of Fiction: Narrative Strategies in the Works of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1985), as well as numerous articles on I. B. Singer; Sholom Aleichem; Y.-L. Perets; fictive discourse; interview as genre; and theory of allusion.
Prof. Miller’s service to the community included lectures and classes at the Jewish Center Yiddish Organization in Columbus, Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Tifereth Israel, Jewish Centers in Lima and Dayton, Ohio, B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation, Congregation Beth Tikvah, and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus.
Politically, Dovid was committed to justice for the oppressed. These included the poor, the weak, the disabled, the disconsolate, the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, and of course women. If his work focused primarily on the legacies of Ashkenaz extending from Vilnius to Brooklyn and beyond, he was just as concerned with the plight and suffering of those elsewhere, be they African-Americans or indigenous peoples in the Americas and others around the world. These attitudes were not merely ideological, but expressed themselves on a daily level in simple acts of kindness and generosity, on the Ohio State campus in particular, toward the thousands of students he taught over the years.
Nor was his commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and the truth restricted to a facile understanding of professionalism. For Dovid, the individual person, the human being came first, even if at the occasional cost of his professional advancement. During the extended illness and later death of his first wife Marcy J. Miller, he turned his full attention to the well-being of his family, and as a widower remained a benevolent father utterly devoted to the care of his two (then young) children Jacob and Rachel. When Dovid remarried, he found a loving partner in Renée Primack, who devoted herself to his care in every way. At a departmental meeting a few weeks ago, Renée helped Dovid into the room and then asked, "is there anything else you need?" Dovid answered, "your love." "You always have that," she responded.
Dovid will be sorely missed by so many. May his memory be a blessing.
We mourn the passing of Professor Emerita Heimy Taylor, who died at her home surrounded by family on March 21, 2017. We remember her modesty, dedicated and committed teaching, superior and caring guidance of countless young teachers, and her pioneering research into the development of computer software for foreign language education.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Heimy married and emigrated to the United States, earning degrees in Utah and Pennsylvania. She wrote her dissertation at Washington University, St. Louis, “Die Bedeutung der Familie in der Novellistik und dem Leben Theodor Storms: Eine literatur-soziologische Studie“ with Professor Peter Uwe Hohendahl, after which she joined the faculty at Ohio State in the fall of 1973.
From 1973-1979, Heimy served as Associate Director of Language Instruction in the Department of German. During these years, she worked together with Werner Haas on three innovative and effective computer programs: Deutscher Computer Unterricht (1973; rev. 1974, 1975), Tutorial Computer (1974), and Deutscher Computer Unterricht for Individualized Instruction (1978). And in 1986, she completed a significant comprehensive computer-assisted German grammar program and tutorial (Tuco II).
When she was tenured in the fall of 1979, she was also promoted to Director of Undergraduate Language Instruction. Heimy mentored and guided hundreds of graduate students in their role as Graduate Teaching Associates and served on over 30 graduate examination committees. In her first 14 years of supervision, seven German GTA’s were awarded Ohio State’s Alumni Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching Award.
Her promotion to Full Professor in the fall of 1988 was fully deserved recognition for Heimy’s excellent teaching and service, her pedagogical texts, and the extraordinarily creative and effective cutting-edge research in and development of foreign language instruction tools.
In the spring of 1992, Professor Taylor was awarded the University’s Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.
Heimy’s collegial mentorship and generosity of spirit will long be remembered by her colleagues in the Department and in the profession at large. As a devoted member of the American Association of Teachers of German, she supported the teaching of German at all levels through her many workshops and conference presentations locally, statewide and nationally. Her productive collaborations with colleagues resulted in two successful textbooks Deutsch - Immer Besser : A Four Skills Approach for Intermediate German (co-authored with Werner Haas and Elfe Vallaster Dona) and the popular self-teaching handbook, German A Self-Teaching Guide (with Werner Haas). In addition to her regular research, teaching and outreach work, Heimy was for many years—even after her retirement from Ohio State in June 1995—a beloved and popular member of the summer German-language teaching staff of the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. She touched many lives and will be sadly missed.
We mourn the passing of Professor Emerita Ilsedore Maria Edse, who died peacefully on December 4, 2015. We remember her great spirit, collegiality and generosity, and her devotion to undergraduate and foreign language education.
Born in Koblenz, Germany, Professor Edse emigrated to America with her family in 1946. She was admitted to The Ohio State University, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in 1952, her Master’s in 1954, and her Ph.D. in 1960. As a Graduate Assistant Instructor, she had begun to teach in the Department of German at Ohio State in 1952, and soon after finishing her doctoral studies, she joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor.
For Professor Edse, teaching at Ohio State was more than a profession -- it was a vocation which she pursued with passion and pride. She taught German Composition and Conversation, German for Reading Knowledge, 20th-century German Literature, German Drama, Business German, and Intermediate German Language courses in the Department.
In the late 1950’s, Professor Edse had begun to work in radio and television, writing and producing German-language instructional programs and conducting on-air interviews. Lester W. Spencer, Assistant Program Supervisor at WOSU at the time, wrote of his appreciation for her work on the German Course series: "You have a personality strong enough to penetrate the radio barriers which is most difficult to accomplish. You add a great deal in making the programs on both radio and television both informative and interesting."
Throughout her career, Professor Edse continued to work tirelessly in the classroom, in radio and television, and on publishing German language textbooks: the Ja, German Spoken, Let's Speak German, and Wie Geht's? series. She gave talks and presentations across the Midwest and at conferences around the country.
In 1964, Professor Edse was the first woman to receive the "Teacher of the Year" award from the Student Council of the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio State for "excellence of undergraduate teaching." That same year, she received an Emmy nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for her "Visit to Germany" series. Four years later, she received another Emmy nomination for her "Ja! German Spoken" series.
On the 8th of April 1980, the Consul General of West Germany telephoned the department chair to inform him that Ilsedore Edse had been named a recipient of the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of Merit), the highest award which the German government bestows in recognition for distinguished contributions to international understanding. Professor Edse was, after Dieter Cunz, the second member of the then 100-year-old OSU Department of German to be so honored. She was cited specifically for "her outstanding teaching in the university's German department and her innovative programming on WOSU radio and television." At the award ceremony, David Benseler, chair of the department, said: "The strongest thing one encounters when one meets Dr. Edse is not only her love of life but her love of humanity. She embodies the notion that conflict is avoided when people speak each other's language."
More accolades followed. She received the 1984 Ohioana Citation for her distinguished service to Ohio in the field of intercultural understanding, her innovative teaching accomplishments, and her exceptional abilities as a television writer, performer, and producer in her interpretation of German language and culture. The next year, she was presented with the 1985 Faculty Service Award by the National University Continuing Education Association.
Shortly before her retirement, The Ohio State University selected Professor Edse as a recipient of the 1988 Distinguished Service Award. President Jennings wrote: "For more than three decades, ... as a demanding and inspiring teacher, you have been a mentor, role model, advisor, and friend at Ohio State. To many, your name is synonymous with German at Ohio State. You have worked tirelessly to establish close and fruitful ties between the German-American population of Ohio and the University for the cause of international understanding. Your contributions have brought you the respect and affection of your students and colleagues."
In her final “Annual Faculty Report” for the Department, Professor Edse wrote:
“I will retire at the end of 1988. I started teaching in 1952, Radio in 1954, TV in 1957 and kept up my activities through 36 years. In addition, I was in charge of students in the German House for seven years in the seventies. It was an activity-filled life at OSU. It was very satisfying.”
She retired on December 31, 1988. As a visible sign of gratitude, in deep appreciation and friendship for Professor Edse, her friends and colleagues in the Department and the College of Humanities decided to establish the Ilsedore Edse Fund for support of Undergraduate Students of German. A colleague at the time wrote, "It is so like Ilsedore -- the only gift she would accept from us is one she can give away to others." To date, over 21 undergraduate students of German at Ohio State have been awarded this coveted scholarship.
As we mourn Ilsedore's passing, we also celebrate her achievements and her indelible contributions to our department, the university, and to intercultural understanding. Those who knew her will sorely miss her creative flair, generous nature, and warm humor.
If you would like to make a contribution in memory of Ilsedore to the Ilsedore Edse Scholarship Fund Supporting Undergraduates of German, you can do so through this secure link: Ilsedore Edse Fund 308792 , or by contacting the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at 614-292-6985.
In May 2009 our dear and esteemed colleague, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of German Alexander Stephan passed away. Alex had been battling brain cancer for several years. He died peacefully in his home in Schmöckwitz in the eastern part of Berlin, a city to whose culture and people he devoted so much of his work over the years; he is buried in nearby Grünau.
Alex joined our faculty in 2000; he divided his time between the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Mershon Center for International Securities Studies. In the Department we knew him as a beloved teacher, advisor and mentor, as an esteemed and learned colleague and friend, as a partner for scholarly exchange. As a fellow at the Center he found the time, space and intellectual environment to investigate his interest in US-German and, later, US-European cultural relations (including post-war Americanization and Anti-Americanism). Just this afternoon a student and I were reminiscing about Alex, his insights, his knowledge, his passion, his smile, his generosity, and his uncanny ability to bring people together. I think Alex understood people very well. I'll never forget a lunch I had with him soon after learning that I would be the new chair of the Department. Alex, a former chair himself, offered me wise advice, he jestingly consoled me in advance for tasks he knew would be difficult, he inspired me with confidence, and he reminded me how important it is to listen.
In his official announcement to the faculty, Dean John Roberts put it in a nutshell: "He was a brilliant scholar and a genuinely nice man." As our colleague Helen Fehervary pointed out—one can say the one or the other about many, however, both attributes are rarely found in one person. Alex, we shall miss you, ave atque vale.
Anna Grotans Chairperson
by Helen Fehervary and Bernd Fischer, "Introduction." Kulturpolitik und Politik der Kultur / Cultural Politics and the Politics of Culture. Festschrfit für Alexander Stephan. Helen Fehervary and Bernd Fischer, eds. Bern: Peter Lang, 2007, 9-14 (German Life and Civilization, vol. 47)
We mourn the passing of Professor Emeritus of German Literature and Film Charles W. Hoffmann who died at the James Hematology Center of OSU Hospitals on October 29, 2007. He is remembered as an enthusiastic and devoted teacher, a respected colleague and friend, a dedicated member of the academic community who served his department, his university, and his profession with distinction over the years.
Professor Hoffmann held a Bachelor's degree (1951) from Oberlin College where he was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, and M.A. (1952) and Ph.D. (1956) degrees in German Literature from the University of Illinois. As a two-year Fulbright fellow in 1953-55 he studied literature and political science at the University of Munich. In 1956 he joined the German faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles where in 1962 he received the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1964 he accepted a position as Associate Professor at The Ohio State University, was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1966, and taught at OSU for a total of 28 years until his retirement in 1992. He served as Chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures from 1969 to 1977 and again in 1986-87.
Under his leadership in the 1970s the Department instituted numerous administrative reforms, expanded its graduate and undergraduate programs in keeping with emerging interests in interdisciplinary and cultural studies, and developed one of the best TA-training and German language programs in the country. During this time German 299: Weimar and the Third Reich in German Literature and Film was instituted, a course that in Hoffmann's hands became the Department's most popular offering and one he taught with resounding success quarter after quarter until his retirement. Just as he knew how to reach out to others across the lecturn and the disciplines, Chuck Hoffmann stood steadfast at the helm of his ship. He was not only our Department's head, not only its center, but also its heart. His colleagues and students from those years will long remember the acts of personal kindness and generosity that were his trademark, acts for which he expected no return and of which he gave freely.
Chuck Hoffmann's personal values were reflected in his larger political commitment to civil rights and peace and justice issues. His scholarly and teaching interests addressed liberal humanistic principles in German literature before and after World War Two. His book Opposition Poetry in Nazi Germany (University of California Press, 1961) was the first in-depth treatment of this topic. His editions of works by Kafka, Brecht and Böll were published by New York: Norton in 1961 and 1970, his Survey of Research Tool Needs in German Language and Literature by the OSU Research Foundation in 1978. Over the decades he authored numerous papers and journal articles on contemporary German writers and trends. He was also a theater enthusiast versed in modern drama from Ibsen and Shaw to the Expressionists and Brecht to Arthur Miller and Tom Stoppard, and an active supporter of progressive local theater groups in Columbus, in Ohio, and in the greater Midwest.
Professor Hoffmann's contributions in service to The Ohio State University were legion. He was a member of and often chaired important College and University committees, including the Faculty Council, the Arts and Sciences Senate, several search committees for deans of the College of Humanities, Department and Program Review committees, the Film Studies Committee, Study Abroad Committee, Fulbright Fellowship Selection Committee, Library Council, and many others. He also chaired the National Honorary Member Committee of Phi Beta Kappa and served in various capacities for the American Association of Teachers of German, the Modern Language Association of America, as well as the American Association of University Professors in which he held executive positions, among them as chair of its OSU chapter from 1984 to 1986.
Throughout his career Professor Hoffmann was a staunch advocate of faculty governance and academic freedom. As early as in 1970-72 he chaired the OSU Committee to Establish a University Senate. Perhaps his greatest later achievement lay in his success in initiating and shepherding through faculty and administration channels a University Rule stating that tenure resides not in the tenure initiating unit but the university: in the event such a unit is dismantled its tenured members retain all the rights and responsibilities of tenured university faculty. In 1983 Hoffmann was honored as the recipient of the OSU/AAUP Louis Nemzer Award for defense of academic freedom and service to faculty governance.
We extend our condolences to Chuck Hoffmann's wife Barbara, his son Erik, and his daughter Karla. As we mourn his passing we also celebrate the life and contributions of this exemplary colleague, teacher, scholar, and friend.