David L. Vanderwerken research collection on Chaim Potok
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
David L. Vanderwerken was an American literary scholar. Born in Canastota, NY in 1945, Vanderwerken was a graduate of Colgate and Rice Universities, and in 1971 became a professor of English Literature at Texas Christian University (TCU). During his forty-three year teaching and research career at TCU he received the Distinguished Teaching Award, an award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher Scholar, was twice nominated for the Chancellor's Award, and was a Fullbright Scholar to Hungary in 2005 and 2008. He was the author of Faulkner's Literary Children (Modern American Literature vol. 8) (1997); Sport in the Classroom: Teaching Sport-Related Courses in the Humanities (1990); and Sport Inside Out: Readings in Literature and Philosophy (1986). At the time of Vanderwerken's death in 2015, he was working on an extensive critical biography of Chaim Potok.
The author Chaim Potok was born in the Bronx, NY in 1929, to a family of Polish Hasidic immigrants. Discouraged from pursuing a talent in drawing and painting, he pursued an Orthodox Jewish theological education at the Yeshiva schools, where he discovered the novels of Evelyn Waugh, which convinced him to pursue a career as a writer. After graduating from Yeshiva University, Potok abandoned Orthodox Judaism and enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America to become a Conservative rabbi. His first published novel, The Chosen, was an immediate and enduring popular success, and was nominated for the National Book Award, inaugurating a long literary career in which he produced novels, nonfiction, literary criticism, books for children, and collaborated on a new English translation of the Hebrew bible. His bibliography includes the novels The Promise (1967), My Name is Asher Lev (1972), In the Beginning (1975), The Book of Lights (1981), Davita's Harp (1985), The Gift of Asher Lev (1990), and I Am the Clay (1992); the short story and novella collections Zebra and Other Stories (1998) and Old Men at Midnight (2001); the nonfiction works The Jew Confronts Himself in Modern Literature (1975), Wanderings: Chaim Potok's History of the Jews (1978), Tobiasse: Artist in Exile (1986), The Gates of November (1996), and Isaac Stern: My First 79 Years (with Isaac Stern; 1999); and the children's books The Tree of Here (1993) and The Sky of Now (1994). After living briefly in Israel in the 1970s, Potok and his family settled in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where he died of a brain tumor in 2002.
This collection includes material related to David Vanderwerken's planned critical biography of author Chaim Potok. It contains correspondence concerning the proposal for the book, submitted as an application for funding from Vanderwerken's employer, Texas Christian University; research on the critical literature surrounding Potok's literary career, life, and art; research on the critical literature surrounding individual works by Potok; a Vanderwerken interview with Potok, including Potok's edits; and copies of Potok's novels and nonfiction works, with Vanderwerken's annotations.
The majority of the collection's arrangement preserves Vanderwerken's original order. The general research is organized at the subseries level by the type of secondary literature under review (articles and book chapters, theses and dissertations, online biographies). The research pertaining to the critical literature around specific works is organized alphabetically by title. The Vanderwerken interview is arranged chronologically. The copies of Potok works are organized alphabetically by title.
Gift of Karen Vanderwerken, 2015
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Sam Allingham
- Finding Aid Date
- 2016 September 16
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use. However, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering.
Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.