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Emeritus Professor Clayton Eichelberger (1925-2017)

Dr. Eichelberger, who joined the English Department in 1956, passed away last January. According to his wife Nancy, he didn't want a funeral. From the late 1960s through the 1980s, the journal Clayton established, American Literary Realism, attracted international attention and respect for UTA.

Several of Clayton's scholarly articles appeared in top journals, including American Quarterly and the Journal of Popular Culture. But his main publication focus was book-length bibliographies, including A Guide to Critical Reviews of U.S. Fiction, 1870-1910 (Vol 1. 1971; Vol. 2, 1974); William Dean Howells through 1920: A Research Bibliography (1976); and Harpers Lost Reviews (1976).

Clayton's impact on the Modern Language Association was significant. At a time when the late-19th early-20th century American literature was a bit of a lost child in American literature studies, he helped lobby for the creation of an MLA Group in the period. That lead to the creation of a regular section in the period.

His impact on the UTA library was also significant. He built a strong Library collection in the ALR period and build his own private collection, which he donated to UTA. When I was at Penn, UTA definitely had a stronger collection in books and periodicals in the period than Penn had. To grasp the extent of Clayton's contribution to the UTA Library, Google "Clayton Eichelberger Papers." The papers include letters from some of the most important American Literature scholars of the second half of the 20th-century, including Leslie Fiedler, another Hubbell Medal winner.

According to Dr. Kenneth Roemer, who remembers Dr. Eichelberger fondly, "Clayton was the moral guide for the department. His rural Nebraska Mennonite upbringing and the discipline learned as a Sergeant Major in U. S. Army and at The University of Colorado (BA; MA) and UT Austin (PhD) gave him little tolerance for sloppy scholarship, poor teaching, and ineffective University administration. He was a demanding teacher and dissertation director, but he was also kind to students and tolerant of the missteps of young faculty members. During one long proof-reading session, I momentarily dozed off and dropped a long bibliographic manuscript. As the pages scattered everywhere, he laughed and, in mock wonder, chided me for not being enthralled with reading bibliographic entries."