This will be printed in my local paper this Sunday, but I wrote it, so I’m preserving it for posterity here.
Harry Maurice Geduld, Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, West European Studies, and Film Studies at Indiana University passed away peacefully in his sleep last Sunday at the Morgantown Health Care Inn after a long battle with dementia.
He was born in London in 1931 to Ann and Sol Geduld and survived the Great Depression and the London Blitz. His family lost three houses in the war, but they all survived. Coming from working-class roots, his intelligence and drive got him into the prestigious Latymer Upper School, one of the top private high schools in the United Kingdom.
After finishing his undergraduate degree and Masters Degree at Sheffield University, Professor Geduld completed his (masters and) doctorate at the University of London in 1961 with a dissertation on Bernard Shaw.
In 1959, he first came to Bloomington as a Fulbright scholar and fell in love with America, emigrating for good (after he earned his doctorate) in 1962. He became an American Citizen after his first son was born and was fond of saying he was, “British by birth, American by choice.”
In 1962, he joined the Indiana University faculty, eventually becoming chair of Comparative Literature from 1990 to 1996. He taught a wide range of courses on British, European, and American drama.
The creator, in 1964, of Indiana University’s Film Studies Program and its first Director of Film Studies, Professor Geduld is also credited with having introduced sixteen undergraduate and three graduate film courses into the IU curriculum. He taught courses on Silent Cinema, Screenwriting, Film Genres, and such major figures as Griffith, Eisenstein, and Chaplin. In 1979 he was the recipient of Indiana University’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Professor Geduld published more than 30 books and numerous articles and reviews on literary and film topics, humorous and autobiographical short stories, limericks and essays. His publications include Chapliniana, Birth of the Talkies, The Girl in the Hairy Paw, Versicles and Worseicles, The Purim Spiel and The Definitive Time Machine.
His vast knowledge of film and filmmaking allowed him to lecture at the Sorbonne for the Charlie Chaplin Centenary celebration, have lunch with Fellini, and meet many Hollywood greats including Frank Capra, Myrna Loy and became a friend of the director Edward Dmytryk. Many of his students went on to work in the film industry, most notably the Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Bruce Joel Rubin. Rubin’s first film, Brainstorm, was originally a screenplay written for a seminar Professor Geduld taught on screenwriting.
He was a devoted father, husband and son and is survived by his wife of 52 years, Carolyn Geduld, his sons Marcus and Daniel and his granddaughter, Violet.