A Highlands Literary Legacy, Part 2

by Anne Cornell, Gary Miller, and Eric White

It should be no surprise that the Highlands neighborhood, being so close to Penn State, has been home to some world-renowned scholars. On our second “literary tour” (see “A Highlands Literary Legacy”, posted on May 30, 2018), it is time to recognize some more of these individuals who lived among us. Some may still be remembered by neighbors, and some of us may be unaware that such illustrious scholars chose to make our neighborhood their home as well.

It is hard to give specific dates when these scholars lived in our neighborhood.  Our data comes mainly from old phone books and often older memories, and we hope that some readers may be able to give us more detail on their time in the Highlands.  What we can say—and celebrate—is that they all spent time as our neighbors.

Albert Tsugawa lived at two locations in the Highlands—the most recent being on East Foster Avenue—from the 1970s through the 1990s.  He came to Penn State as an Assistant Professor in 1961. Born in Hawaii, he earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. He studied Eastern art and religion, particularly in Japan, Taiwan, and Cambodia. He lived in at least two locations in the Highlands.  As neighbor Mark Lafer reports, “Albert Tsugawa was our next door neighbor and good friend, almost from the day I moved into our home, March 1988. He remained at 348 East Foster, until his death, 11/04/ 2011.”

Tsugawa is noted for his monograph The Idea of Criticism, which is a “detailed study of the argument patterns used in the discussion, criticism, and evaluation of the arts, and the different styles, methods, and emphases of different critics ….”  He is also the author of the Intention of a Work of Art.

At Penn State he taught a seminar in “Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Religions.”  A colleague wrote: “I know that Albert practiced the kind of loving friendship that he featured in his writings. There is also much…that reveals Albert the man, particularly his well-studied understanding and love of the arts, his analysis of interpersonal love, and his view of the meaning of life and his attitude toward death.”  Albert Tsugawa died in 2011.

Elmer Borklund

Elmer Borklund arrived in State College in 1962 and lived at 215 W. Fairmount Ave and two other addresses in the Highlands during his many years in State College.

He was born in 1930 and earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Borklund taught modern English literature, literary theory, and the art of editing.  Novelist and English professor Tom Rogers, another inhabitant of the Highlands, said of him: “People who knew him in State College remember him as a charming, interesting friend, and there are many people who remember Elmer’s dinners as famous events.”

His major scholarly work is Contemporary Literary Critics, originally published in 1977. One reviewer noted that Contemporary Literary Critics was “a remarkable achievement as essays in criticism. They are informed, well argued and elegantly written evaluations of the total output of the critics under discussion.”

In 1969 he was honored for outstanding contributions in the field of humanities at Penn State.  Elmer Borklund retired as an emeritus professor.  He died in 2008.

Sergei Utechin

Sergei Utechin lived at 464 East Foster Avenue in the first half of the 1970s.  A specialist in Russian History, he came to Penn State first as a visiting professor and was named a professor in 1970. He retired in 1984.

Utechin earned a bachelor’s degree from the Moscow University, a B. Litt. Degree from Ozford, and a Ph.D. from Kiel University in Germany. He previously held positions at the University of London, Oxford University, and the University of Glasgow.

Utechin House

At Penn State he taught the History of Russia and Studies in Russian and Soviet History. Among his many publications are Everyman’s Concise Encyclopeadia of Russia and Russian Political Thought: A Concise History.

He retired as a professor emeritus and was honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in 1984.  His “long-standing interest in historical methodology and his concern with rigorous procedures of investigation” was noted.  He died in California in 2004.

Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich is unique among residents of the Highlands. For ten years (1986 to 1996) he spent fall semesters at Penn State as a visiting professor of Science, Technology and Society, a nationally known interdisciplinary program founded by Professor Rustum Roy, a leading materials researcher and scholar at Penn State with an interest in the nexus between science and the humanities. During that time, he lived on the 200 block of West Fairmount Ave., as well as other locations in the area.

Illich was interested in issues such as education, medicine, and labor, among others. He was a controversial critic of western culture and its institutions. In particular, he was a severe critic of public education in the United States, expounding his case in Deschooling Society, published in 1972.  Illich died in 2002.

These individuals certainly brought their special abilities to Penn State, but they also chose to live in the Highlands and add to the social fabric of the neighborhood. They all made significant contributions to their chosen fields of study and helped to enhance the rich diversity of the Highlands community.

Should you know of others authors, artists, and scholars who have lived in the Highlands, please share their names and locations with us for a future update.

Anne Cornell, Gary Miller, and Eric White are members of the “Hearts in the Highlands” Editorial Board.