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J. Alden "Nick" Nichols

J. Alden "Nick" Nichols

This Guest Book will remain online until 8/3/2015.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
The most memorable lecturer I ever experienced in the U of I History Department, J. Alden Nichols was always supportive and invariably kind to me, as well as to others. He gave everyone the impression that above all he enjoyed being a teacher, though his two major publications were meticulously researched and well-written. But what was most amazing was his ability to entertain as he lectured; History 311 and 312 were not only thought-provoking and informative, but they were like individual performances, timed to end with a perfect big finish at the 49th minute out of the 50 minute time periods. And of all of the classes he taught, his four presentations on "Romanticism", in one of which musical excerpts, especially from Wagner, figured so prominently, were perhaps the best individual set of lectures I heard from ANY instructor at UIUC. Like many of my fellow students in the History Department, I looked forward to every session of his courses. His graduate problems course, in which he told graduate students he would rather have them submit their term papers a little late than have them over-stress and do a poor job, showed his humanity and decency. He also was open in his graduate seminar to various unconventional topics --- such as "The Growth of the German Film Industry Prior to WWI", a paper that helped me grow as a film historian. He served on my doctoral committee, and throughout he was encouraging and helpful to me. He will be missed.
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