Jeffrey L. Sammons

Elias Leavenworth Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Jeffrey SammonsJeffrey Sammons, B.A. Yale College, Ph.D. Yale University, faculty member at Yale since 1964, you were made Full Professor just 7 years after the Ph.D., when your book on Heinrich Heine established your international reputation. This was not your first book, nor was it even your second: it was the third of the thirteen books that you have written up until now. You have dedicated yourself to elucidating the literary world of 19th-century Germany, situating literature within its sociopolitical context long before it became fashionable to do so: indeed, your book on “Literary Sociology and Practical Criticism” appeared in 1977. You remained the world’s leading Heine specialist even while establishing yourself as a Schiller scholar, an astute reader of Kleist and Buechner, and the leading authority on the works of Wihelm Raabe. You were one of the first to study and teach German and Jewish literary relations—ahead of the times in this interest, too, you were rewarded with a fellowship to Ben Gurion University. Your edited volumes, your reviewing activities, your critical bibliographies, and your articles and essays are almost too numerous to count. One of the leaders of your discipline, you have worked indefatigably to support and preserve it.

Having been both its Director of Undergraduate Studies and its Director of Graduate Studies, you served twice as Chair of your department, first from 1969-77, and again from 1988-91. Within the university community, you have especially promoted the cause of books and libraries, and have served on committees ranging from Course of Study to Buildings and Grounds. A long-time Fellow of Silliman College, you have actively participated both in the work of the college and in its Fellows’ Meetings. And you have not neglected the New Haven community, either: for decades you served as a reader to the blind. Books—both texts and physical objects—have only been one object of your devotion: you have been devoted as well to your students—past and present—and they to you. As you retire, they—and we—salute a homegrown Yalie whose scholarship and teaching have brought pride and honor to the Blue.

Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans