Madison - Joseph Thomas Shaw (Tom), Professor Emeritus of Slavic Languages, University of Wisconsin, Madison, died on April 4, 2011, at Oakwood Village Retirement Community, of a continuing illness. He was born in Ashland City, TN, on May 13 1919, the son of George W. and Ruby Mae (Pace) Shaw. He was married on October 30, 1942 to the late Betty Lee Ray; they had been married almost 60 years when she died on September 15, 2002. He is survived by one son, David M. (Pittsburgh, PA); and one brother, E. Wayne (Thomasville, GA). He was preceded in death by two sons, Joseph T. Jr. and James W.; and by three brothers, G. Wyatt, Henry A. and Loyle P. Shaw and one sister, Velma (Shaw) Taylor.
He served on active duty in the US Navy in World War II (1942-46) and the Korean War (1951-53), and after that continued in the active reserve and then the inactive reserve until his retirement with the rank of Captain, US Naval Reserve (Retired).
After graduating from Cheatham County Central High School at Ashland City in 1936, and spending two years at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN (1936-38), he continued his education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he awarded the B.A. with Highest Honors in English, in 1940, and the M.A. in 1941. He was elected to membership in two honorary societies: Phi Kappa Phi (all-University), and Phi Beta Kappa (humanities). After World War II, he resumed his education and he was granted the M.A. at Harvard University in 1947 and the Ph.D. in 1950.
He was on the faculty of Indiana University from 1949 to 1961, and after that, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as Professor of Slavic Languages from 1961-89. (At Wisconsin he was Chairman of his Department, 1962-68 and 1977-1985); in addition, he was Associate Dean (Humanities) of the Graduate School from 1965 to 1968.
As a scholar, he took pride in the opportunity he and his generation had to contribute to the development of the academic field of Slavic languages and literatures in America after World War II. In 1957, he initiated (as editor or co-editor) three scholarly publications in the Slavic field, all of which still continue: the quarterly Slavic and East European Journal (the central American scholarly journal in the field), the annual American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies, and the occasional Indiana Slavic Studies.
During his first Chairmanship of his Department at Wisconsin, he had the responsibility for instituting the regular Ph.D. program in Slavic Languages, setting the stage for the further development of the Department among the most outstanding in America; its graduates (including those who earned PhDs under his direction) are among the outstanding scholars and teachers in the field.
During his entire career his own scholarship was centered on Alexander Pushkin, the greatest and most-loved Russian poet and man of letters, and the central focus of literary scholarship in Russia. His three-volume annotated translation of Pushkin's Letters into English (first edition, 1964) is now in its fourth edition; in his scholarship, he is perhaps best known internationally, especially in Russia, for his detailed studies of Pushkin's rhyming and for his Rhyme Dictionaries and Concordances to the Poetry of Pushkin and also of two contemporaries, Batiushkov and Baratynskii. After his retirement from teaching, he continued to be active in research and publication. He not only worked to complete his long-term project on Pushkin's rhymes and wrote a number of new books, but he also republished, in his Collected Works, not only his previously published books, but collections of his articles, so that all the scholarship of his entire career is now available in book form. A number of his articles have been published or scheduled to be published in Russia; in addition, two of his books have been published in Moscow (with translation of the English): the two-volume Concordance to Pushkin's Poetry (1985; Moscow, 2000), and his book Pushkin's Poetics of the Unexpected (1994; Moscow, 2002), and more of his books are to be published there in Russian translation. His latest volume, Pushkin's Rhyming: A Comparative Study was published by the U.W. Press in 2010. In Moscow, the Pushkin Encyclopedia (1999), published in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the poet's death includes a section on Pushkin scholars ("Pushkinists") of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and their scholarship; of the 24 individual scholars memorialized with short articles, 23 are Russians, and the 24th is "Tomas" Shaw.
He was a lifetime member of the central American professional societies in his field: the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL), and the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS); he served on committees of all of them, especially the AATSEEL. He was a member of the Executive Council of the AATSEEL for 25 years, and president of that association for two (1973 and 1974), founder and editor for its first fourteen years of The Slavic and East European Journal (the organ of AATSEEL), and author of its history: AATSEEL: The First Fifty Years (1991). He was the recipient of two AATSEEL awards: in 1970, "For Outstanding Service as Editor of the Slavic and East European Journal, 1957-70" (1970), and in 1991, "For Distinguished Contribution to the Profession."
He was interested not only in scholarship, but in the teaching of foreign languages, especially Russian. In this connection his service is pertinent as member (1959-70) of the Executive Committee of Modern Foreign Languages Teachers Association (which publishes the Modern Language Journal) and twice its President (1965, 1969); his service on the Foreign Language Advisory Committee of the MLA (1966-69), and his contribution to the launching of membership associations of modern foreign language teachers, on national and one regional: the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and was one of the founders of the Midwest Council of Modern Foreign Language Teachers. He was a lifetime member (and served a term on the Executive Council) of the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR).
During his four decades in Madison he was a member of the Madison Literary Club and of the Bascom Hill Society. His Pushkin collection (of books and published articles) accumulated over more than forty years for his own scholarly use and that of his students--a gift of his to the University--forms the nucleus of the Pushkin Library in the Pushkin Center (Slavic Department). A couple of thousand other books of his were donated to the Memorial Library; a number of them are now in the Rare Book Collection. His Department gives two annual awards in his name to students (one for scholarship and one for language learning); to its graduate student-author of the most outstanding scholarly paper presented at the Wisconsin AATSEEL scholarly meeting each fall; and to its most outstanding undergraduate student of the Russian language that year.
From the time he came to Madison in 1961, he was a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, where (among other things) he served terms as Vestryman and as Warden. But his principal service in the Episcopal Church was as Lector (lay scripture reader) and server at Sunday services, on regular schedule, for more than a half-century (all but the first seven years at St. Andrew's). He was interested in the question of the selection and preparation of the ordained clergy; he served terms, under three Bishops, on the two organizations directly involved in this process in the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee: the Standing Committee (1972-76) and the Commission on Ministry (1978-86).
In celebration of his life, there will be a Memorial Service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 1833 Regent St., Madison, on April 16, 2011, at 10:00 AM, followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. The Rev. Andy Jones will officiate. There will be no visitation. It was his wish that, in lieu of flowers, any memorials be sent to the Slavic Department and/or Pushkin Center Funds at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, or to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, or to the charity of one's choice. Arrangements are in the charge of the Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, WI, tel. (608) 238-3434.
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