Albert Wilhelm

Albert Wilhelm

Soon after his year in Lublin, Albert Wilhelm served as a Fulbright Lecturer on American Literature at Seoul National University in Korea. Meanwhile, his regular job was as Professor of English at Tennessee Technological University. His publications, mainly on twentieth-century American fiction, included articles on Thomas Wolfe, Robert Penn Warren, and John Updike, and a book on the short stories of Bobbie Ann Mason. He retired from teaching in 2005 but is still working for Educational Testing Company, focusing primarily on the analytical writing section of the Graduate Record Examination. In partial retirement he is enjoying travel and finally getting to read some of those books that were set aside because of classroom demands.

My family and I arrived in Lublin at an exciting but occasionally difficult time. In 1977 freedoms (and food supplies) were somewhat limited, but the cordiality and helpfulness of colleagues and newly acquired friends knew no bounds. They assisted with housing, medical care, and other incidental problems, while we enjoyed learning about a new country and culture. Some academic customs (e.g., students presenting flowers to their teachers on the successful completion of oral exams) were refreshingly different from those in the United States. My students also provided many new insights into the familiar texts of American literature that I had come to teach. I learned, for example, that Thoreau’s preachings on economy had limited relevance to an economic system already plagued by shortages, and that some of Faulkner’s defeated but proud Southern protagonists acquired added resonance for readers in a country whose very existence had been threatened over several centuries. As is often the case for teachers, during my time at UMCS, I gained far more knowledge than I imparted.

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