Faculty Profile

Arvid F. Sponberg, Professor

In Memoriam, Nov. 8, 1944 - Aug. 7, 2013


Professor Sponberg joined the Valparaiso University English faculty in 1972.

Professor Sponberg specialized in twentieth century drama and theater. His publications include two books: Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think About Commercial Theatre in America (Greenwood Press, 1991) , and A.R. Gurney: A Casebook (Routledge, 2003). With the help of a $10,000 Kapfer Research Award, he has researched the rise of nonprofit professional theater in Chicago. See the website www.chicagotheaterhistoryproject.org.  This research has led to his joining with colleagues at Columbia College in Chicago to organize the first scholarly conference devoted solely to the history of Chicago theater. Sustaining Chicago Theatre: Past, Present, Future occurred May 18-22, 2011 at Columbia College. Planning for second symposium in 2013 is under way. For more information, visit the Symposium's website at www.colum.edu/Academics/School_of_Fine_and_Performing_Arts/theatresymposiumindex.php   and www.facebook.com/groups/chitheatresymposium  On sabbaticals in 2001-2002 and 2010, he researched British productions of American plays, comparative histories of public financing for the arts in the US and the UK, and the rise of departments of theatre in American universities.

Professor Sponberg has also taught courses in the theory and practice of adapting plays for the movies.  Since 2009 he has taught a graduate course, New Ideas in Midwestern Literature, for which he started a blog at http://blogs.valpo.edu/midwestlit.  He is a member of the Society for the Study of Midwest Literature. 

In addition to teaching, Professor Sponberg has advised English majors and, with his colleagues Martin Buinicki and Sara Danger,  the Kappa Phi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society. With his colleagues Edward Uehling and Miranda Heckler he has also served as Co-Chair of Books and Coffee, an annual series of public book reviews. 

Professor Sponberg’s passions have included theater, for its clarity and precision; the history of science, for its emotional and ambitious obsessions; politics, for its complicated rhythms and harmonies; music, for its democratic and inspirational vistas; football, for its graceful choreography; golf, for its brutal physicality; and religions, especially the Lutheran family, for their simple, heartbreaking mysteriousness.

A beloved teacher and esteemed member of the English department for over 40 years, he will be dearly missed.


Ph.D. - University of Michigan, M.A., University of Chicago, B.A., Augustana College (Illinois)