Arthur Walton Litz, Jr., Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres, culminated his exceptional undergraduate career a Princeton with a Rhodes Scholarship in 1951. Returning from Oxford three years later with a D.Phil., he served in the U.S. Army before joining the Princeton faculty in 1956 as an instructor of English. He continued to serve the University with distinction for the next 38 years as a highly popular undergraduate lecturer on modern literature, one of the department’s dissertation supervisors most in demand, chair of the Council of Humanities, and chair of the English department.
In addition to his active service as teacher and administrator, Professor Litz has been a prolific scholar and critic, with an international reputation for work on such difficult modernist writers such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams. He is also an authoritative critic of earlier writers, including particularly Jane Austen, and this range of literary interpretation has brought him an array of honors: the Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities; fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; election to the Eastman Professorship at Oxford University; fellow of the American Philosophical Society; and member of the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association. He has also served as a trustee of Oxford University Press and the Ezra Pound Literary Trust.
His contributions in the classroom, however, are what will be remembered most affectionately after his retirement, as they were recognized early on by a Harbison Award for Gifted Teaching. The abiding love of letters that Professor Litz has given to his students has carried them to eminence on faculties throughout the United States and in recognition of that gift, a number of them have brought together a collection of essays on modernism as a Festschrift in honor of their favorite Princeton professor.