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By Block, Ed | Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

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Block, Ed, Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature


It is once more with particular pleasure that we at Renascence present this special issue; showcasing the fifth Joseph M. Schwartz Memorial Essay, Professor Thomas Wortham's "William Dean Howells's Spiritual Quest(ioning) in a 'World Come of Age.'"

This biennial, commissioned essay honors the late Dr. Schwartz, emeritus professor of English at Marquette University and past editor--for seventeen years--of this journal. In alternate years, Renascence honors Dr. Schwartz by awarding a $1,000 prize for the essay judged best among those published in Renascence during the previous two years. The prize-winning essay is chosen by three of the Renascence Associates.

Dr. Schwartz would be especially pleased with this year's presenter, and his lecture. Tom Wortham received his B.A. from Marquette and was a student in Dr. Schwartz's twentieth-century American literature course, the area for which Dr. Schwartz was best known, as teacher and scholar. Tom credits Dr. Schwartz with setting the critical and scholarly bar high, leading him to strive for that level of expertise in American literature during his graduate work at Indiana University.

The essay itself presents a multi-dimensional view of one of nineteenth-century American literature's premier "realists," the many-sided William Dean Howells. Professor Wortham has spent decades studying and publishing on Howells. This essay, on Howells's struggle with belief, benefits from those decades' labor. …

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