Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Schumann, Detlev W.

Detlev Walther Schumann (1900-1986), professor of German, was born in Kiel, Germany, on May 20, 1900. After receiving a Ph.D. degree from the University of Hamburg in 1923 he taught in secondary schools in Germany until 1926, when he came to the United States. He taught at Bowdoin College from 1926 to 1929, at Lincoln School of Teachers College at Columbia from 1929 to 1931, at the University of Missouri from 1931 to 1934, and at Swarthmore College from 1934 to 1935. In 1935 he came to Brown as assistant professor of German, and was promoted to associate professor in 1936 and professor in 1946. He left Brown in 1949 to teach at the University of Illinois, where he remained until 1957. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1957 to 1962. When an opportunity to return to Brown as chairman of the German Department arose in 1962, Schumann found himself taking a sentimental trip back to where he wanted to be, “in Marston Hall, which still had exactly the same musty (somewhat pleasantly musty!) smell as of yore, an odor by which I would identify it if I were left there blind-folded after years of rotating in outer space.” In 1964 he received the Medal of Merit First Class, one of the highest medals of the German government, for promoting student exchanges between Brown and the University of Kiel, for the quality of his scholarship and teaching in German studies, and for the contributions to German culture afforded by dissertations supervised by him. In 1965 Schumann represented Brown at the tercentenary of the University of Kiel, on which occasion he was made an “Ehrenbürger,” or Honorary Fellow of the University. He was chairman of the German Department until 1965, and retired from Brown in 1970. He died in Providence on December 29, 1986.