Alumni News

October 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

Notable Alumni | Renowned Scholar Wrote the ‘Book’ on Don Quixote

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences launches the Notable Alumni Awards, honoring 37 Notable Alumni in 2017 for broad accomplishments in their careers, a commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University, the College of Arts & Sciences, and its students.

Dr. James Parr ’59, ’61M.A. Spanish

Ohio University alum James Allan Parr was a squad leader and acting sergeant in Army basic training at age 17, chief clerk of a 450-vehicle administrative motor pool in France at age 19, and full professor and chair of Modern Languages at Murray State University at age 27.

The young man who was born in West Virginia and grew up in rural Ohio would spend 45 years as a modern languages teacher and researcher on the West Coast, an internationally renowned scholar specializing in Spanish language and literature.

More particularly, he wrote the book “Don Quixote”: An Anatomy of Subversive Discourse, which shaped the study of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote.

Dr. James Parr

Dr. James Parr

B/W headshot of Parr

James Parr upon entrance to OHIO (1953)

He earned a B.A. in 1959 and an M.A. in 1961 in Spanish from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University; his area of concentration for both degrees was Romance Languages.

After 20 years at the University of Southern California, followed by 25 at the University of California Riverside, he retired as distinguished professor in 2015. Director of three NDEA Institutes, 12 summer sessions in Spain, and 28 Ph.D. dissertations, he was also a Fulbright lecturer in Argentina and Uruguay and a visiting Eminent Scholar in the Humanities at Alabama, Huntsville.

Editor of Volumes 25-50 of the Bulletin of the Comediantes and past president of the Cervantes Society of America and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Parr had a book of essays on Cervantes dedicated to him in Germany in 2005, followed by the presentation of a homage volume at MLA/CSA in 2006.

He enjoys retirement with his wife, Patricia, as well as the company of their three daughters and six grandchildren.

Career Highlights and Praise from Colleagues

James A. Parr, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Riverside

  • Past President, Cervantes Society of America, 2004-2006
  • Past President, American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese, 2008
  • Editor Emeritus, Bulletin of the Comediantes, Vols. 25-50, 1973-98

Standing in Specialty, Spanish Golden Age Literature, Prior to Retirement in 2015

Selected Comments of Parr’s Unidentified Peer Reviewers

  • #3 of 2009:  “… one of the most authoritative, illustrious Hispanists not only in the USA but in the world. He deserves the highest recognition and honors that our profession can bestow.”
  • #5 of 2004: “Parr is the leading ecumenical critic in Spanish Golden Age studies now living.”
  • #1 of 2009: “Professor Parr is without doubt one of the top two or three scholars in the field.”
  • #2 of 2009: “James Parr is, for me, one of the exemplars of Hispanic studies; … a subtle, profound, and judicious thinker who is never satisfied with the status quo, [he is] in the best sense of the terms, a mover and a shaker…. It is rare for me to give a course on early modern literature without using several of Parr’s critical studies.”
  • #4 of 2009: “… representative of the best that American Hispanism has been able to achieve.”

In Relation to Don Quixote

  • “First of all, Jim is one of the most outstanding and influential Cervantes scholars of the twentieth (and twenty-first) century. His Anatomy book is, by all standards, a classic in the field and one of the most influential books ever written on Cervantes’ novel.” (Peer review #6, 2009)
  • “We dedicate this volume to James A. Parr, President of the Cervantes Society of America, fulfilling a debt of honor long overdue. For his ‘Don Quixote’: An Anatomy of Subversive Discourse has firmly directed the conceptions of a whole generation of Cervantistas, leading them gently to the core of scholarly proceedings…. There can be no doubt that we all owe the sound and steady progress of Cervantine studies in large measure to his gentle, careful, and highly effective advice.”  (Kurt Reichenberger, director of the Reichenberger Press, Kassel, Germany, 2005; see IV. 2)
  • “Para James Parr, maestro y guía de la renovación crítica en el estudio del Quijote” (José María Paz Gago, Spanish critic and theorist; autographed copy of his 1995 Semiótica del ‘Quijote’)

Regarding Golden Age Drama Studies (Editor, BCom v. 25-50, 1973-98; A CELJ Distinguished Retiring Editor, 1999)

  • “Prof. Parr … opened its pages to structural studies, reception theory, genre, etc., providing thereby a wide forum of ideas that liberated criticism of this field from the straitjacket of traditional approaches.” (Peer review #5, 2009)
  • “Since Parr wrote his plea for a more intrinsic approach in literary scholarship on the comedia [Hispania 1974], critics have moved in that direction.” (Henryk Ziomek, A History of Spanish Golden Age Drama, 1984, p. 197.)

Two Laurels

  • Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr. Ed. Barbara Simerka, Amy R. Williamsen, with Shannon Polchow.  Bucknell UP, 2006. Presented at the annual meeting of the Cervantes Society of America, at MLA, Dec. 2006, immediately preceding his presidential address.
  • Cervantes y su mundo.  (3 vols.)  Ed. Kurt Reichenberger.  Kassel: Reichenberger, 2005. (Vol. 2 is dedicated to Parr)

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