In Memoriam: Douglas Noverr

Douglas Noverr

Former PCA President Douglas Arthur Noverr died February 14, 2020.  He was born on May 13, 1942.  Doug grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and graduated from St. Philip Catholic Central High School in Battle Creek.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in English from Central Michigan University and his Ph.D. in English in 1973 from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

Doug was President of PCA from 1997 to 2000.  Prior to that he served as Vice President (1995-1996) and as a Council Member at Large (1992-1995).  He also served as Sports Area Chair for many years.  Doug chaired the PCA-ACA Endowment Committee from 2001 to 2005 and served as PCA-ACA International Coordinator from 2007 to 2011.  He received the Governing Board Award for outstanding and far-reaching service to PCA-ACA.  The Douglas A. Noverr Grant for Collection Enhancement, awarded by the PCA Endowment, has enabled colleges and universities across the country to create and enhance campus-based research collections in popular and American culture studies.

Doug worked at Michigan State University from 1970 until his retirement in 2018.  During his time at Michigan State Doug served as Chair of the Departments of American Thought and Language and Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures from 1995 to 2007.  He served as Acting or Interim Chair of the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and Romance and Classical Studies.  He was Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Letters from 2007 to 2010.

Doug was a noted scholar of sports, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Midwestern literature, among many other topics.  He was active in the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.  He received a Fulbright award in 1976 and taught as a Senior Lecturer in American Literature in Lublin, Poland, at the Institute of English Philology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.

Doug’s books include The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865-1980 (with Lawrence E. Ziewacz) (Nelson-Hall, 1983); Walt Whitman’s Selected Journalism (edited with Jason Stacy) (University of Iowa Press, 2014); and Michigan State University: The Rise of a Research University and the New Millennium, 1970-2005 (Michigan State University Press, 2015).

Doug’s numerous articles and book chapters include “Popular Fiction and the U.S.-Mexico War: Thomas Mayne Reid’s The Rifle Rangers (1850) and John Ludlum McConnel’s Talbot and Vernon (1850)” (Journal of Popular Culture, 2001); “Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig” (in The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past, edited by Peter C. Rollins) (Columbia University Press, 2003); and “Popular Culture in Sports, the Popular Culture of Sports: A Cross-Disciplinary Historical View” (in Popular Culture Studies Across the Curriculum: Essays for Educators, edited by Ray B. Browne) (McFarland, 2005).

Doug is survived by his wife, Betty Noverr.  A graveside service in Doug’s memory was held in May 2020 at the Barnard Cemetery in Charlevoix, Michigan. Read more from Michigan State University. 

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