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Issue 474, 3 December 2001

Professor Richard Andrews

Dick Andrews graduated from the University of Oxford in 1962. After working from 1963 as assistant lecturer and then lecturer in Italian at University College Swansea, he moved in 1972 to a senior lectureship at the University of Kent, and in 1984 was appointed to the Chair of Italian at Leeds.

In Swansea Dick had, in spite of his relative youth, been responsible for introducing Italian, and at Canterbury he had always been the senior Italianist. Once in Leeds, his experience was immediately put to good use in strengthening a department that was relatively long established but had suffered from the staff cuts of the early 1980s and had narrowly avoided being subsumed into another department. The undergraduate syllabus was tactfully but swiftly updated and the range of topics taught was widened: as our brochure proclaimed, our undergraduates were now 'studying Italy', not just Italian. Dick also proved to be an exceptionally gifted and hard-working teacher, second to none as an eloquent and witty communicator of ideas and enthusiasms as well as the necessary dry facts.

Throughout his career Dick has made an outstanding contribution to research in Italian studies. His first major project, a very intricate one, was to edit the medieval treatise on verse technique by Antonio da Tempo; his edition, published in 1977, will constitute the standard text for the foreseeable future. Thereafter Dick's interests moved to literature from the Renaissance onwards. Among his favoured authors have been two, Ariosto and Calvino, who ambiguously blend the serious, the comic, and the fantastic. But his major international reputation has come to rest on his books and articles on theatre and opera. His work on the sixteenth century is characterised by a close attention, practically unheard of in Italy itself, to comedies not just as literary texts but as part of theatre history and of social history, shaped by performance practices and by their environments. In the contemporary period, he has pioneered British study of the autodrammi written and performed annually by the villagers of Monticchiello in Tuscany. Dick's publications, together with his ability to encourage the work of others, have been crucial in the Department's steady rise to high research ratings.

Dick has made important contributions to the wider academic community in the University and beyond. For the Workshop Theatre, he taught commedia dell'arte for over fifteen years on the MA programme and chaired the Management Committee. He performed in his own translation of Gli ingannati both on campus and in the home city of the comedy, Siena. His drunken porter in a Scottish play, performed at the Workshop Theatre and on tour in Shanghai, was particularly memorable. Colleagues in the Workshop Theatre greatly valued both his professional and his personal support. Dick has also been a stalwart member of the Society for Italian Studies, speaking frequently at its conferences and serving as editor and then senior editor of its journal, Italian Studies.

Dick plans to remain active as a scholar, and will continue to work on Renaissance texts and performers as well as returning regularly to Italy to study community theatre in the loveliest of settings. He and his wife Gill will find more time to travel to parts of the world that even they have not explored yet. Dick has been the best of colleagues, and our best wishes go to him and Gill for a very happy and fulfilling retirement.


 
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