Frederik N. Smith, a retired professor and former chair of the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte, died on March 19, 2020.
Smith was born in Baltimore in 1940. He earned his undergraduate degree from Baltimore’s Loyola College (now Loyola University Maryland) and his master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Virginia. From 1967 to 1976, he taught in the English Department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, after which he became the chair of the English Department at the University of Akron. Smith came to UNC Charlotte as chair of the English Department in 1984 and served in this capacity until 1990. From 1995 to 1999, he directed the department’s graduate program. During his years at UNC Charlotte, he taught courses on such topics as eighteenth-century literature, Irish literature, and stylistics. Smith retired in 2000, but he continued to participate in English Department functions for the rest of his life.
In addition to teaching and performing administrative duties, he published numerous works over the course of his career. His first monograph, Language and Reality in Swift’s “A Tale of a Tub,” was published by the Ohio State University Press in 1979. He edited a scholarly collection titled The Genres of Gulliver’s Travels, which the University of Delaware Press published in 1990, and his second monograph, Beckett’s Eighteenth Century, came out in 2002 from Palgrave Macmillan. Although Smith focused his scholarship on Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett, he published articles and book chapters on many other topics. The most unusual for an English professor was probably his essay “Reading Superman” in the collection Superman at Fifty: The Persistence of a Legend (1987).
Smith enjoyed drawing cartoons and caricatures, especially during long meetings. His post-retirement gift to his colleagues, an amusing cartoon titled “If English Ruled…” still hangs in the department’s lobby. It is one of the many ways Smith’s legacy lives on in the department he so capably led. He will be missed.
His obituary can be found here.
Words: Mark West, Professor, Department of English