Academic journal article Papers on Language & Literature

Introduction

Academic journal article Papers on Language & Literature

Introduction

Article excerpt

For someone so keenly interested in all things Gothic, Frederick S. Frank had an unusually ordinary upbringing. Born on December 23, l935, in Cobleskill, New York, he grew up in what he later referred to as an idyllic, small, rural community. He spent his summers working at a local fair and, as he became older, guiding tourists through the Secret Caverns, near the more famous Howe Caverns. Fred's lifelong interest in Gothic caverns and enclosed Gothic architecture might very well be traced to the many summers he spent leading people through the labyrinth, which culminated in a 100 foot underground waterfall.

Frederick Frank earned his B.A. from Union College, Schenectady, NY, in 1957. He went on to earn an M.A. from Columbia University in 1959, writing a master's thesis on "The Kierkegaaridan Consciences of Several Ibsen Protagonists." In 1968 he was awarded his Ph.D. from Rutgers University, writing a dissertation entitled "Perverse Pilgrimage: The Role of the Gothic in the Works of Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne." Fred entered the field of the American Gothic when it was in its infancy, and that might be putting the matter too optimistically. Virtually no one was doing serious scholarship on the Gothic at the time, and Fred can certainly be credited for opening up the field for serious scholars through his pioneering work on lost Gothic novels, dramas, and chapbooks, as well as his voluminous bibliographical studies. After a brief teaching stint at Boston University, Fred spent a rewarding and devoted 24 year career teaching at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, retiring from there in 1994. In some ways his research and publication career went into overdrive at that point. He established "The Sickly Taper," his online bibliography and, indeed, the most thorough annotated Gothic bibliography on the net or anywhere else. His editions of Walpole, Poe, and Evans were also all completed after his retirement. He frequently said that he did his best work after his retirement, and certainly he had ever)' reason to believe that that retirement would continue for a good many more years.

On a personal note, Fred was a devoted husband to Nancy and the father of their three children. He was also a mentor to many younger scholars of the Gothic. He was always quick to promote someone's most recent book on "The Sickly Taper," and he maintained email contact with dozens of people in the field. His extra-curricular interests included military history, clock making, and college football. In fact, he missed only one Allegheny College football game during the 24 years he taught there, owing to his sister-in-law's wedding. After a purely elective surgery to replace a hip, Fred developed an almost always fatal condition called Ogilvie's syndrome. He died on February 28, 2008. Those of us who worked most closely with him wanted to find some way to save "The Sickly Taper," and, after some negotiation, Carol Margaret Davison heroically assumed Fred's mantle by hosting the site at the University of Windsor, Canada: . It was Jack Voller's idea to assemble this collection of essays for Papers in Language and Literature in honor of Fred's legacy as a Gothic scholar extraordinaire, and I have been honored to edit and contribute to it myself. …

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