Jeff Richards, a generous and friendly contributor to past Charles Brockden Brown Society conferences, passed away after an illness on Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, at age 62.
Jeff was a well-known figure in Early American literary studies. He held teaching positions at Duke University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Lakeland College, and Beijing Normal University, and for nineteen years was Professor and a Department Chair at Old Dominion University. Best known for his work on early American theater, through books such as Theater Enough: American Culture and the Metaphor of the World Stage, 1607-1789 (1991) and Drama, Theatre, and Identity in the American New Republic (2005), Jeff also edited, with Sharon Harris, Mercy Otis Warren: Selected Letters (2009), and produced numerous numerous essays and articles.
Many of us who encountered Jeff at Brown Society and other conferences enjoyed his intellectual acumen and ready sense of humor. Everyone who knew Jeff benefitted from his tremendous generosity and collegiality. His influence as a mentor was widespread and he was instrumental in the careers of many colleagues. Jeff was admirably young at heart; his contributions scholarly and convivial will be sorely missed at our future meetings.
Alfred Weber died March 23, 2006. He was 81 years old.
Alfred was the founding editor of the Charles Brockden Brown Electronic Archive and Scholarly Edition (now headquartered at the University of Central Florida), and a founding member of the Charles Brockden Brown Society. His patience, kindness, and interest in the work of other scholars made him an ideal mentor and friend. It was his dream to see the uncollected work of Charles Brockden Brown identified and published in a manner worthy of this genius of the early Republic.
By the time he initiated the CBB editorial project, Alfred was already retired from his position as Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of Tübingen, Germany, which he had held from 1968 to 1990. Born in Berlin, Alfred started his academic career in Berlin and Tübingen, where he received his Ph.D. in 1953. After several years as a journalist, he held academic positions in Berlin and Heidelberg before assuming the chair in Tübingen. On his many visits to the United States, he held grants from the Fulbright Commission, the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association), and he held visiting professorships at SUNY Cortland, the University of Oregon, and the University of Northern Arizona. In addition to his pioneering work on C.B. Brown and the American short story, for which most of us know him, Alfred also wrote about 19th and 20th century English and American poetry (his dissertation was on T.S. Eliot), and on the relationship between literature and film. He was the founder of the German Film Archive for American Studies and directed an interdisciplinary research project on the history of documentary film in the United States.
After his last published essay appeared in 1997, Alfred spent the next eight years compiling a treasure trove of bibliographical and editorial materials that became the foundation of the current Charles Brockden Brown editorial and digital project. He never stopped working.
We will miss Alfred’s genial presence and kindly company at our meetings. I will miss his wonderful “Berliner” voice on the telephone that never failed to send cheer and encouragement. It was a pleasure to know him, and a privilege to be his friend.