Faculty Stories

The College Memory Project: David Bevington

Editor's note: Prof. Emeritus David Bevington died peacefully at home in Chicago on Aug. 2, 2019. He was 88 years old. Remembered by family, friends and colleagues as a vibrant, generous and intellectually inquisitive man, the interviews below stand as a testament to his love of both Shakespeare and the University of Chicago. 

The College Memory Project is a series of interviews with long-serving faculty and staff of the University of Chicago.

In the first installment, we sat down with Chair of Theater and Performance Studies and the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and in English Language and Literature, David Bevington. In 1967, after serving in the navy as a lieutenant (junior grade) and graduating from Harvard with an M.A. and a Ph.D, Professor Bevington came to the University of Chicago as a visiting professor, becoming a faculty member the following year. 

In his almost 50 years at the University, Professor Bevington has taught a wide variety of courses focusing on Shakespeare and both classical and contemporary drama. In addition, he has contributed greatly to the College's and Hyde Park's theater community; from the founding of Court Theater to the creation of the Theater and Performance Major, while working continually to ensure the success of University Theater. 

The only living person who has edited Shakespeare's entire corpus, Professor Bevington is one of the world's foremost Shakespeare scholars, deemed by Harold Bloom as "one of the most learned and devoted Shakespeareans." Though formally retired, he continues to teach in the College, leading his two-quarter course, "History and Theory of Drama," in the fall and winter each year.

Professor Bevington reminisces about his early years teaching at UChicago, touching on subjects from Core courses to the intellectual environment he encountered when he first arrived here.

In this next video, Professor Bevington discusses the genesis and cultivation of University Theater and the TAPS department at the University of Chicago, ranging from its improvised and haphazard beginnings to its current matured and incredibly successful form.

In this video, Professor Bevington discusses the sense of community at the University of Chicago and around Hyde Park and how he has engaged with that community by lecturing during Humanities Day, holding artististic gatherings at his house, and being part of the UChicago Chamber Orchestra, among other things.

Professor Bevington answers a series of rapid fire questions ranging from his favorite book to the nicest compliment he's ever gotten from a student.

In this last, bonus video, Professor Bevington recites, from memory, the Chorus's Prologue from Shakespeare's Henry V. Each quarter, Professor Bevington begins the first day of class by reciting this speech to his new students.

Directed by: Max Asaf, AB'16 and Jenzo DuQue, AB'15

Produced by: Valerie Archambeau and Benjamin Chandler

Interviewed by: William Rhee, AB'17

Edited by: Max Asaf and Jenzo DuQue

Special Thanks to David and Peggy Bevington