Kenneth Harper


Kenneth Harper (1918–2004) was a pioneer in the field of Russian literature in this country: he belonged to the first generation of American-born and American-trained Slavists. Like most of the members of that generation he received his Russian language training during World War II and his academic education as a result of the GI Bill. He received a doctorate in Russian literature from Columbia in 1949 and began teaching at UCLA immediately thereafter. Over the next 40 years he introduced innumerable undergraduates to the classics of Russian literature, especially the nineteenth-century novelists Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Goncharov. He directed dissertations dealing with these authors and regularly presented papers on them at national and international conferences. He was instrumental in forming the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and served several times as its chair. Early in his career he participated in a number of projects in the fields of machine translation and computational linguistics with the Rand Corporation and the National Science Foundation. He was a genial colleague and devoted teacher and scholar and will be missed by the many whose lives he enriched.