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Passages: Ted Braun, Emeritus Professor of English

March 15, 2013

On March 6, Professor Emeritus Ted Braun died of lung complications following cancer surgery at age 91 in Vancouver, Washington.

Ted joined the Lewis & Clark College English Department in 1957 after serving as pastor of Meridian Church in Frogpond, OR, now part of Wilsonville.

His passion for the world of ideas took him from Elmhurst College, where he earned his BA in 1943 with majors in Philosophy and Sociology; to Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he earned an M.S.T. (B.D.) in Philosophy of Religion in 1949; to Cornell University,  where he studied Rural Sociology for a year; to Reed College, where in 1953 he earned a masters degree in Philosophy and Psychology; to the University of Oregon for two years of graduate study; to the University of Washington, where he earned his PhD in English in 1967.

Ted’s  intellectual breadth and experimental approach to learning were facets of his inspired teaching. For example, he taught a course on Applied Pastoral Poetry in which he and his students planted a garden on an 8’ by 80’ plot on the south side of the Art Building. As they cultivated their garden, they grew together as a class, exploring a range of topics including the significance of gardens in poetry, myth, and scripture; the biological lives of plants; the Industrial Revolution;  Marx’s theory of alienation; and ecological destruction.

Another course—inspired by Ted’s making a Greek lyre and learning to chant Homeric poetry—involved creating instruments for the purpose of interpreting poetry through performance. Materials for the course—funded by a faculty research grant—included a vise, plane, saber saw, hand drill, knives, chisels, scrapers, files, rawhide, white  and yellow cedar, shellac, gourds, gut, nylon strings, and “junk,” in Ted’s words.  With their hand-crafted instruments, he and his students explored the “the radical inscape” of poetries, both ancient and modern.

Ted retired from Lewis & Clark in 1986 and moved with his family to Orcas Island—in possession of a wheel barrow presented to him by his English Department colleagues as a retirement gift.

Ted is survived by his wife, Alice, and their children—Erica, Enid, Marcus, and Tim—and their families.

Information about Ted’s memorial service will be forthcoming.