Paul Betz

Paul Betz Professor in the Department of English for many years, has chosen to retire from Georgetown at the end of the Spring semester of 2007.

Prof. Betz grew up in rural Pennsylvania, one of seven children.  He earned his B.A. from La Salle College and from there went to Cornell University where he met his wife Dorothy Betz, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D.  He joined the Georgetown English Department in 1965 where he has been a prolific contributor to this University.

Paul’s research and teaching interests ever since his graduate days focused upon Wordsworth and the Wordsworth circle; 19th Century literature; lyric poetry; and textual scholarship (editing, bibliography and literary forgery).  His publications include Cornell Wordsworth edition of Benjamin the Waggoner (1981, revised 1989) a landmark reconstruction of a virtually forgotten poem; and journal articles which include "After the Lyrical Ballads: Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1801-1802" (1973) and "Wordsworth's First Acquaintance with Blake's Poetry" (1970), "Pictures for a Revolution: Ten Contemporary Images" (in Wordsworth in Context, 1992).

            Paul has for many years been a collector of manuscripts, rare books, and association objects related primarily to Wordsworth and his circle, relying upon his knowledge and ingenuity, as well as his patience and tenacity, rather than upon a thick wallet. His remarkable successes over the years have led to a personal collection which is now widely admired and four important books have appeared to accompany special exhibits which Paul has prepared.  They include: British Romantic Art (with Jonathan Wordsworth and Robert Metzger) (1990);Romantic Archaeologies: comprising Some images of the age and Selected women writers (1995); William Wordsworth and the Romantic Imagination (2000) and Professor and Collector: a selection of books, manuscripts, pictures and objects (2004).

            A dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, Paul Betz has since the early nineteen seventies taught in the Liberal Arts Seminar, a special, nine-credit, two semester program for first year students concentrating on the Nineteenth century.  He was also for many years teacher of the second semester of Sophomore English Honors.  Students in those programs will remember among many other things Paul bringing items from his collection to class so that they could examine first hand manuscripts and books which had come from the writers they were reading.  One student can speak for many, "Professor Betz has the ability to inspire students to teach themselves. He makes the intellectual life enjoyable. His interest in the literature is infectious. Students want to be like him--to find something in their lives about which they are as passionate as he is about Wordsworth."  Paul Betz received the College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003.

            Prof. Betz tirelessly served Georgetown throughout his forty two years at the University.  He was English Department Chair for six years [1978 – 1984], for many years a member of the Faculty Senate and its President from 1991 – 1993, and served as a member of the crucial University Rank and Tenure Committee for five three year terms [1985 – 1993; 2000 – 2007], always as an elected member from the Faculty Senate.  He frequently acted as recording and corresponding secretary for this Committee as well as being for a time its Chair.

For many years Paul served as President of the Wordsworth Trust America, and he has been for a similarly long time a member of the Board of Directors of the Dove Cottage, one of the world’s most important centers for research in the work and period of Wordsworth. 

On April 25th colleagues, students, and friends of Prof. Betz gathered in the Riggs Library to honor him and his years of selfless dedication to Georgetown.  English Department Chair Penn Szittya introduced Jane McAuliffe, Dean of the College, Professors Joseph Sitterson and John Brough, and Artemis Kirk, University Librarian, each speaking on an aspect of Paul’s years at Georgetown.  At the conclusion of these proceedings Prof. Szittya announced that to commemorate Paul’s years at Georgetown the English Department and the Faculty Senate had directed that a tree be planted in his honor, along with a commemorative plaque which includes, aptly, a quotation from Wordsworth.

Paul Betz plans on continuing his University service.  He’s active on the Library Board of Directors and has turned his manuscript sleuthing skills in new directions, recently obtaining for the library typescripts of scripts by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman, and John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation each with significant connections to the authors or to people involved in early stage productions.

Hale and hearty at 67 Paul Betz can be counted on to be seen around campus for years to come, when he can tear himself away from his steadily expanding Maclean garden where, following in the traditions of his father and grand father, he loves to make things grow.