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British Association for American Studies


In Memory of Edward Allan Abramson (1944 – 2015)


In Memory of Edward Allan Abramson (1944 – 2015)

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“He wore his learning lightly”:
Edward Allan Abramson (1944 – 2015)

[/dt_banner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”6660″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” image_hovers=”true” img_size=”medium” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Edward [‘Ed’] Abramson died of cancer at his home in Hull on the 9th of May. He had only recently returned from a memorable and exciting cruise taking in visits to Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia with his wife Nikki. A Service of Thanksgiving for his life and work was held at Chanterlands Crematorium on 28th May, followed by interment at the Western Cemetery. Ed will be remembered by many BAAS members as a frequent book reviewer in the Journal of American Studies, and for his presentation of papers at several BAAS annual conferences.

Born in New York City, Ed received a B.A. from the City University of New York (1965), an M.A. from the University of Iowa (1966), and a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester (1977). From 1966-69 he was an Instructor in English at East Carolina University, North Carolina. In 1971 he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer in American Literature in the Department of[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]American Studies at the University of Hull. During the academic year 1986-87, he was Visiting Professor of English at The College of William and Mary, Virginia. On his return, he remained at Hull until his retirement as a Senior Fellow of the University in 2008.

A natural and gifted teacher, Ed’s lectures, tutorials and seminars were highly regarded and well-attended. A genuinely modest person, his abilities were recognised not only by his colleagues at Hull, but in the larger American Studies communities in the UK, Europe and the United States. Ed introduced generations of Hull undergraduates to the joys (and sorrows) of American-Jewish literature. He also supervised M.A. and Ph.D. dissertations in this field, as well as acting as External Examiner of doctoral dissertations submitted to the universities of Ulster, East Anglia, Central England and Nottingham. Ed published two critical monographs: Chaim Potok (Twayne Publishers, New York, 1986), and Bernard Malamud Revisited (Twayne Publishers, 1993), and a BAAS Pamphlet, The Immigrant Experience in American Literature (1982). He also contributed articles on aspects of American Jewish culture and literature to Studies in American Jewish Literature, the European Association for American Studies Newsletter, and Modern Jewish Studies. He wore his learning lightly and liked to say to Nikki: “How many people are paid for reading what they love to read?”

I was Ed’s colleague (he had an office next to mine) for 30 years, and we remained close friends until his death. Over the years I got to know him not only as a dedicated and innovative teacher, but also as a loving husband, father and grandfather, never happier than when surrounded by his family and dog, Sally. He was proud of his boyhood distinction as an American Eagle Scout and in later life was a skilled amateur sailor. In her eulogy, Nikki reminded mourners that Ed was (literally) a Samaritan, who “tried to see good in all those he met”. To his student supervisees, he offered Kleenex, comfort and sage advice on their academic and personal problems. For many years he was a member of the Hull Reform Synagogue, and as Nikki recalled, sometimes led the services “in impeccable Hebrew”. Later, Ed was drawn to Soto Zen Buddhism, but retained an abiding affection for his Jewish heritage. Appropriately, his memorial service incorporated both these elements of his faith and philosophy, while emotional tributes were paid by his daughter, Elise, sons David and Dorian, and grandson Max (aged 10) who read a poem he had composed, which closed with the lines:

“Grandpa – you are the brightest star

It’s time to say goodbye, I will try not to cry.”

I was privileged to have known him, and will remember him as a confidante, counsellor, and someone who (almost) always laughed at my jokes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row margin_top=”15″ margin_bottom=”0″ padding_left=”0″ padding_right=”0″ bg_position=”top” bg_repeat=”no-repeat” bg_cover=”false” bg_attachment=”false” padding_top=”0″ padding_bottom=”0″ parallax_speed=”0.1″][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Contributed by John White, Emeritus Reader in American History, University of Hull.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]