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Burton Feldman Papers

Identifier: M145


Burton Edward Feldman (1926-2003) served as faculty member of University of Denver, Department of English from 1965-1998. During his time at the University, Feldman acted as Director of Undergraduate Honors in English (1968 - 1974), Editor of the Denver Quarterly (1970 - 1975), and Director of Graduate Studies in English (1980 - 1984). Feldman also published poetry and scholarly works, including The Rise of Modern Mythology: 1680 - 1860 and 'The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige. The collection contains records pertaining to Feldman's works as well as correspondence, photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings, address books, journals, calendars, scrapbooks, and research notes.


  • 1945-2004


Biographical / Historical

Burton Edward Feldman was born on May 3, 1926 in Albany, New York. He spent much of his early life in Troy, N.Y. and graduated from high school before enlisting in the Army in 1945. Feldman served in the military for three years, spending much of his time in the service stationed in the Philippines. Feldman achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant while serving as a Field Artillery Commander. Feldman then attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. where he received his B.A. in 1949. Feldman received his M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1954. While working on his master's degree at Columbia University, Burton married Margaret (Peggy) Mary Gildea in 1953. Feldman worked for a brief period in 1956 for United Productions of America. Feldman helped with writing episodes of Gerald McBoing Boing, and was also employed to conduct research on storylines in the public domain that could potentially be adopted into cartoons. Feldman then moved on to the University of Chicago to both teach and work on his Ph.D., which he received in 1965.

Feldman was a lecturer in both literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago from 1957 - 1962. During his time in Chicago, Feldman studied under Leo Strauss, a political philosophy professor, and became friends with Mircea Eliade, a Romanian author and scholar of religion. After leaving the University of Chicago, Feldman and his wife spent two years in Europe and Turkey teaching for the University of Maryland. After returning to the U.S., Feldman arrived at the University of Denver in 1965. During his time at the University, Feldman acted as Director of Undergraduate Honors in English (1968 - 1974), Editor of the Denver Quarterly (1970 - 1975), and Director of Graduate Studies in English (1980 - 1984). While teaching at the University of Denver, Feldman undertook his professional scholarship in earnest. Working with Professor Robert D. Richardson, Jr., Feldman published ''The Rise of Modern Mythology: 1680 - 1860'' in 1972. The book explored the use of myth in the western world and how it was used in literature and society from 1680-1860. Richardson and Feldman continued to work together from 1979 - 1984, and published a 50 volume compendium of rare and important mythological texts used by Romantic poets. The anthology is entitled ''Myth and Romanticism.'' In 2000, Feldman published a history of the Nobel Prizes entitled ''The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige.'' The book is a comprehensive study of the Prizes themselves, the process behind their awarding, and what each one has represented socially throughout its existence. Feldman worked on several scholarly projects that never saw publication. A book tentatively entitled ''Fame and Glory'' explored the idea of notoriety and the seeking of recognition in literary figures, both authors and characters. Feldman also wanted to write a sequel to ''The Rise of Modern Mythology: 1680 - 1860'' that would update it to modern day, but the project was never completed or published. Feldman was also a poet, amateur novelist, and an artist. Feldman had his poetry published in a number of different journals over the course of his life. Feldman made efforts to publish a book of poetry, but was unsuccessful. Feldman was also unsuccessful in getting any of his several novels published. Feldman never made any professional attempts at drawing, but maintained it as a hobby throughout his life. Feldman maintained friendships with many literary figures. Both Feldman and his wife regularly corresponded with both Rikki Ducornet and David Markson, two modernist authors.The Feldmans also kept in close contact with Mircea Eliade and his wife Christinel. Burton Feldman also struck up a friendship and corresponded for a time with Roald Hoffman, the winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Feldman retired from the University of Denver in 1998 and died from cancer in Denver, Colorado on January 10, 2003. At the time of his death, Burton Feldman had been working on a book that was part fact and part historical fiction that chronicled the friendship of Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, Bertrand Russell, and Kurt Godel in their declining years. Feldman had tentatively entitled the work ''Einstein and Friends.'' The book was finished and published in 2007 under the supervision of Peggy Feldman and Katherine Williams with the title ''112 Mercer St.: Einstein, Russell, Godel, Pauli, and the End of Innocence in Science.''


28 Linear Feet (28 boxes)

Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographs, drawings and scrapbooks, correspondence, research notes and supporting documentation, both published and unpublished manuscripts and drafts, 5.25 inch and 3.5 inch floppy disks, newspaper clippings, address books, journals, and printed ephemera. The materials pertain to several areas of Feldman's personal and scholarly life. The correspondence in the collection spans 1951 to 2004. The research notes and supporting documentation cover Feldman's research on a wide range of topics, but the majority of the work is focused around some aspect of mythology, and functioned as supporting documentation for Feldman's works on the topic, including "The Rise of Modern Mythology: 1680 - 1860". There is also research for Feldman's unpublished project tentatively entitled "Fame and Glory". Research on "The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige" and on "112 Mercer St.: Einstein, Russell, Godel, Pauli, and the End of Innocence in Science". Feldman's research and drafts for his unpublished novels are also all contained in this collection, as well as supporting material relating to his poems and his unpublished poetry collection.


The collection is arranged into twelve series:; 1. Photographs, 1920 - 2001.; 2. Correspondence, 1951 - 2004.; 3. Art, 1950 - 2000.; 4. Research, Drafts, and Personal Documents, 1953 - 1998.; 5. Faust, Goethe, and Fame, 1960 - 1995.; 6. Work and Research and Mythology, 1968 - 1977.; 7. The Nobel Prize, 1980 - 2000.; 8. 112 Mercer St., 1988 - 2004.; 9. Novel Manuscripts and Notes, 1980 - 2000.; 10. Poetry, 1950 - 2002.; 11. Memo Books and Calendars, 1959 - 2002.; 12. Electronic Media.;

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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