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Eugene R August

Professor Emeritus


College of Arts and Sciences: English


Email: Eugene August


  • Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1965
  • M.A., University of Connecticut, 1960
  • B.A., Rutgers University, 1958


In 1966, Dr. August joined the UD faculty, having been recruited by the unforgettable B.J. Bedard, the department chair. His special area of literary studies was Victorian literature, which he taught for 30 years at UD. Over the years he branched out into World Literature in Translation, and later into Men's Studies. Because UD encouraged innovation, he was able to help create such enterprises as the University's Study Abroad Program which thrives to this day, and the Department of English's annual bus trip to the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario which continued for several years. For several years, he team-taught an interdisciplinary History-LIterature course with colleague and friend Alice Vines. He was among the founders of the original Core Program, which combines an interdisciplinary program of first-year courses in English, History, Philosophy and Religious Studies.

When Dr. August was appointed the University's first Alumni Chair in Humanities, he had an unparalleled opportunity to work with colleagues throughout the Humanities on annual symposia, courses and mini-courses, and other projects that allowed faculty to exhibit their scholarship and hidden talents.

Faculty perspective

"UD holds a special place in my memories as the site where I was privileged to learn from a remarkable group of colleagues, staff, and students. Over the years I have learned to value the University's commitment to a religious component in its educational mission. Secular universities lose something by not having a religious presence on campus that informs its curriculum with a living faith. Even those who do not share that faith or who question its tenets or practices can be enriched by coming into contact with a living faith tradition that is not merely academic."

Courses taught

  • Divine Comedies in World Literature
  • The Epic Journey in World Literature
  • Literature of Antiquity
  • Victorian Literature
  • European Literature of the Nineteenth Century
  • The Tragic Dilemma
  • Men's Studies in Literature
  • Dickens
  • Tennyson
  • Literature and Film
  • English Composition

Research interests

For the past 10 years, Dr. August has been working on a book tentatively titled Divine Comedies in World Literature. The book argues that the Western world has been obsessed with the "pro-tragic bias" that views tragic art as the highest form of art and devalues comedy as escapist art. After exploring the wide range of comic art, his study examines ten characteristics of divine comedies and traces how these characteristics appear in literary works as varied as Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, Goethe's Faust, and Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop.