A.E. Wallace Maurer, 1921 - 2015

January 4, 2016
Wally Maurer

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Professor Emeritus A.E. Wallace (Wally) Maurer, age 94, on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. Funeral and burial service details are available through Snyder Funeral Home of Mount Gilead, OH.

Wally received his B.A. and M.A. from University of Manitoba (Canada), and his Ph.D. in English from University of Wisconsin in 1954. He came to OSU as an Assistant Instructor of English in 1953 and retired as a Professor in 1992. He was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus in 1992.

Wally’s area of expertise was eighteenth-century literature, but he also taught courses in other areas, including early twentieth century literature, introduction to poetry, introduction to fiction, and critical writing. He published widely on eighteenth-century English poet, critic, and playwright John Dryden, and served as one of the editors of The Works of John Dryden (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989). In that series, he co-edited Volume 17 on Dryden’s prose, 1668-1691 (1971) as well as Volume 20 on Dryden’s prose, 1691-1698. Wally’s work was cited frequently and influenced a number of other critics. For instance, his essay, “The Form of Dryden’s ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ Once More,” first published in Papers on Language and Literature in 1991, was reprinted in the collection Critical Essays on John Dryden (1997). He also published on Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw. Wally’s research methods were meticulous, which is one reason why his work had such staying power. He once estimated that for every line he published, he wandered for quarter of a mile through the OSU library, gathering supporting evidence. He was also, as one OSU dean put it, one of the College’s “best citizen-scholars,” serving, for example, on the Arts and Sciences senate, on the English department Promotion and Tenure Committee, and as President of the Johnson Society of the Central Region.

Wally’s retirement in 1992 was not by choice, but was required by federal law, which at the time mandated that university professors had to retire at age 70. That law was revoked in 1993, and Wally—as well as the university—knew the revocation was coming, so he fought his mandatory retirement, but was not successful. The Lantern and Columbus Dispatch reported on his efforts to prevent his “involuntary retirement,” as he called it, and his senior colleagues in English sent a passionate letter to President Gordon Gee, seeking to prevent the decision. Wally’s resistance to his retirement reveals how much he loved teaching, research, and the life of the mind. He once said that it was his job “to perceive the contours of current understanding of each student in [his] classes and to figure out where and how to set in motion their minds and capacities towards a ramified geometric progression of inexorable expansion.” Not surprisingly, students remembered him and his influence on their lives long after they had taken his class. For example, Fred Strickland, who enrolled in one of Wally’s graduate seminars in the 1960s, wrote in 2015 that he “made a powerful impression on me that has stayed with me throughout my life, and is part of what sustains me today. . . . I have never forgotten [his] love and knowledge of the subject, [his] kindness and patience with the students, [his] wit and genial good cheer.  [Professor Maurer was], and still is, my model of a great teacher, and I am fortunate to have been [his] student.”

Wally continued to be a vital and well-known presence in the English department and on the Ohio State campus for many years after his retirement. He taught a few classes each year for several years after retirement, attended a multitude of public lectures, and often (almost always unless someone beat him to it, which was hard to do) asked the first question. He was also an accomplished pianist. 

The Ohio State English community deeply mourns the passing of Wally and extends our sincerest condolences to Wally's family, friends, and colleagues.