Sunday, February 11, 2007

RIP Wolfgang Iser

Having been on father leave for almost 6 months now I am just starting to get back into seriously working on my thesis. I am putting together a detailed Table of Contents/Chapters Plan at the moment, ready for my return to full time study nexy month. It was while doing this that I became aware of the very recent death of Wolfgang Iser. While he was 80 years old, it came as a shock to me as I was holding The Implied Reader in my hands at the time. Iser is one of the central mentors to my thesis. Here is the obiturary from his employer, UCI:

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Professor Wolfgang Iser, Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature. At the time of his death, Professor Iser was one of the most prominent literary theorists in the world. A founder of the "Constance School," along with Hans Robert Jauss and Juri Striedter at the newly established University of Constance on the German/Swiss border, he shifted the focus of German literary theory in the late 1960s from the author to the reader. Rather than ask what a work of literature means, he turned his attention to what a work does to the reader. His own works of theory and criticism had a major impact on literary study in the United States with the publication of THE IMPLIED READER (1972) and THE ACT OF READING (1976).
In 1976, Professor Iser came to UC Irvine as a visiting Professor of German. In 1978 he became a permanent member of the UCI faculty in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, dividing his time between Constance and Irvine. Along with Murray Krieger, J. Hillis Miller, and Jacques Derrida, he helped make UCI one of the most important centers of literary theory in the world. Expanding on his groundbreaking work on the effect of literature on the reader (Wirkungsaesthetik), he explored new territory by developing the field of "literary anthropology," which speculates on how literature functions in the human experience. This phase of his career resulted in PROSPECTING (1989) and THE FICTIVE AND THE IMAGINARY (1993). Noted for his excellent readings of individual works as well as for his theoretical positions, he also published a major book on Shakespeare's history plays, STAGING POLITICS (1993), and numerous essays on Fielding, Pater, Joyce, and Beckett. In 1991 he retired from the University of Constance, but continued to teach at UCI until 2005. In 1994 he delivered the Wellek Lectures at UCI. (
Extremely productive even after retirement, in 2006 he published HOW TO DO THEORY and lectured in nine different countries, playing, as he had done for over 25 years, the role of international ambassador for UCI. Born July 22, 1926, in Marienberg, Saxony, Germany, he was 80 years old when he died, January 24, 2007.
-- Ned Raggett (ne...), January 27th, 2007.

No comments: