Herbert A. Arnold, Professor of German and Letters, Emeritus, Dies

Editorial StaffJanuary 11, 20244min

Herbert A. Arnold, Professor of German and Letters, Emeritus, passed away on January 7 at the age of 88.

Herb completed his studies in Germany and the US, receiving his PhD from the University of Würzburg. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1962, and taught in the German studies department and the College of Letters for 41 years until his retirement in 2003.

“Trained as a historian, Herb also had a spectacularly broad and deep knowledge of European literature and Western philosophy,” recalled Krishna Winston, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, Emerita, “which made him a perfect fit for both the COL and the German department. Whether teaching in Wesleyan’s two-semester Freshman Humanities course, the COL colloquia, German period or topic courses, or courses for lifelong-learners offered by the Wasch Center, he pushed his students to recognize and articulate connections. In conversations with colleagues, he wore his erudition lightly, displaying a delightful sense of humor and a caring interest in others’ everyday joys and sorrows.”

Laurie Nussdorfer, William Armstrong Professor of History, Emerita, said “Herb was a challenging and endearing colleague who kept all of us aware of the broader geographical, chronological, and ideological context of the texts and ideas we discussed in COL.” Jerry Wensinger, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, Emeritus, and professor emeritus of the humanities said that when Herb joined the COL, “Wesleyan was enriched. He came and was exactly that: brilliant, multi-gifted, and multi-informed.”

“Herb Arnold had read everything and could talk about anything, which made him a captivating presence in the classroom,” recalled Leo Lensing, emeritus professor of film studies. “He was also a generous, affable colleague, an ideal intellectual companion, and a natural storyteller.” Karl Scheibe, emeritus professor of psychology noted that “Herb has been an important contributor to our lives at Wesleyan for over six decades. In recent years, his contributions to the Wasch Center and its programs have been notable, particularly in the WILL program which he helped to lead and in which he was a central contributor of courses. His intellectual prowess was formidable—but this did not keep him from being an affable colleague with a fine sense of humor.”

Herb is survived by his wife, Annemarie, his daughters, Bettina, Corinna, and Vivien, and his grandsons, Maximilian and Gabriel. Memorial contributions in Herb’s name may be made to the College of Letters by sending a check payable to “Wesleyan University” to the Office of Advancement, 55 High Street, Middletown, CT 06457. Please indicate in the memo line that your gift is in honor of Herb/College of Letters. You may also contribute online via give.wesleyan.edu, in the designation drop-down menu select “Other” and specify Herb/College of Letters. The family expects to hold a memorial at Covenant Village this coming summer.