Walter Sokel

Professor Emeritus (Deceased 2/2014)

In Memoriam

Walter H. Sokel (1917-2014, February 21, 2014,) was Commonwealth Professor of German Literature at the University of Virginia from 1973 until his retirement in 1994.  He escaped from his native Austria in 1938, the year of its annexation by Nazi Germany, and made his way to the United States where, in due time, he became a leading member of that generation of immigrant Jewish intellectuals whose impact on the American university system can be felt even today.  His main focus as a scholar and writer was modern European literature.  His first book, The Writer in Extremis (1959), was a pioneering work, and is still a definitive work, on German expressionism.  His later writing deals with the work of a great many authors, but he is best known as one of the four or five major figures, worldwide, in the field of Kafka studies, to which his principal contributions are the books Franz Kafka:  Tragik und Ironie (1964) and The Myth of Power and the Self:  Essays on Franz Kafka (2002).  His courses at Virginia, as one might expect, were always authoritative and demanding.  But they were also always brilliantly engaging, and he was widely acknowledged to be one of the University’s best teachers.  At the end of one undergraduate course, in which he had discussed Nietzsche’s idea of “eternal return,” his students presented him with a bouquet of flowers and a note expressing hope for an “eternal return” of his courses.  In the German Department (and in the English Department, with which he became officially affiliated in 1980) he was known as an exceptionally friendly and conscientious colleague and a tireless worker for his graduate students.  He is still remembered by many at Virginia as a loyal friend.

Faculty List

Manuela Achilles

Director of German Undergraduate Programs, Director of the Center for German Studies

Dorothe Bach

Associate Director & Associate Professor, Center for Teaching Excellence

Benjamin Bennett

Kenan Professor (on leave 2017-2018)

Thomas W. Best

Professor Emeritus

Beth Bjorklund

Professor Emeritus

Paul Dobryden

Assistant Professor

Gabriel Finder

General Faculty, Associate Professor and Ida and Nathan Kolodiz Director of Jewish Studies

Jeffrey Grossman

Associate Professor and Chair

Janette Hudson

Professor Emeritus

William E. Jackson

Associate Professor Emeritus

Volker Kaiser

Associate Professor

William Little

Professor of German and Music Emeritus

Lorna Martens

Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Cora Schenberg

General Faculty, Lecturer

Walter Sokel

Professor Emeritus (Deceased 2/2014)

Gordon Stewart

Professor Emeritus

Renate Voris

Professor Emeritus

Chad Wellmon

Associate Professor