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Register of the Sigurd Burckhardt Manuscripts MSS 117
MSS 117  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sigurd Burckhardt Manuscripts
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 117
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 1.0 linear foot (3 archives boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1955 - 1969
    Abstract: Manuscripts (1955-1969) of Sigurd Burckhardt, literary scholar specializing in Shakespeare, Goethe, and Kleist, and founding member of the University of California, San Diego, Literature Department. Materials include published and unpublished essays and articles, reprint copies, chapbooks, drafts, relevant notes, Burckhardt's dissertation entitled "Sprache als Gestalt in Goethes Blankversdramen," Shakespearean Meanings, and a transcript of Michael Kohlhaas. The collection consists of two series: 1) MISCELLANEOUS MANUSCRIPTS, and 2) BOOK-LENGTH STUDIES.
    Creator: Burckhardt, Sigurd, 1916-1966

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Sigurd Burckhardt collection contains manuscripts and typescripts of published and unpublished essays, articles, chapbooks, drafts, notes and book-length studies. Essays and notes related to Shakespearean plays in Series 1 can often be found in finished form in the manuscript, Shakespearean Meanings, located in Series 2. The collection is organized into two series: 1) MISCELLANEOUS MANUSCRIPTS, and 2) BOOK-LENGTH STUDIES.
    The MISCELLANEOUS MANUSCRIPTS series contains typescripts, reprints, chapbooks, and holograph drafts. This series is arranged alphabetically, and a number of manuscripts have been annotated by Robert Elliott. In many cases, each folder contains several versions of a particular study. Within each folder, manuscripts are arranged chronologically, that is, in order of refinement, with rough notes and other "groundwork" at the beginning of each folder, and the finished product at the end.
    This series contains three book-length studies arranged alphabetically. The first study is the manuscript of Shakespearean Meanings, a collection of Burckhardt's essays on Shakespeare, edited by R. Pearce and R. Elliott in 1967-1968. Press release forms and reviews, as well as some holograph notes from Elliott are included after the manuscript proper. The second study (exclusively in German) consists of the numerous preliminary drafts for Burckhardt's dissertation, "Sprache als Gestalt in Goethes Blankversdramen," as well as the completed dissertation. The third study is a transcript of Michael Kohlhaas (from an Old Chronicle).


    Sigurd Burckhardt was born on November 21, 1916, in Bielefeld, Germany. He received his secondary education at the Friedenauer Gymnasium, Berlin, from which he graduated in 1935. After absolving two years of compulsory military service, he emigrated to the United States. Burckhardt's family was relatively large and had long been working to earn enough money to send one of the children to America. When that sum had been accumulated, Sigurd seemed the most worthy recipient due to his scholarly inclinations and ambitious intellect. In the autumn of 1938, Burckhardt matriculated at the University of California at Berkeley, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in German in 1940 and, after some interruptions of his graduate studies by employment in a war industry and as a high school teacher, received his Master of Arts degree in English in 1945.
    Burckhardt was employed from 1947 to 1953 as an instructor and assistant professor at Saint Mary's College in California. In the autumn of 1953, he entered Ohio State University to resume his study of German language and literature while simultaneously teaching as an assistant instructor from 1953 to 1954 and as an instructor from 1954 to 1956. At practical odds with the "New Critics" such as Brooks and Leavis, Burckhardt straddled the ground between traditional scholarship and "close reading" methodology.
    In 1963, Burckhardt left his position at Ohio State and became a professor at the University of California, San Diego. A posthumous collection of his essays on Shakespeare has been co-edited and published (1967-1968) under the title Shakespearean Meanings by Pearce and Elliott. This was the first and only book to be published under Burckhardt's name. His preferred form of writing was the long essay, and he claimed to be intimidated by the scale of the book-length study. Sigurd Burckhardt died on December 15, 1966.

    Preferred Citation

    Sigurd Burckhardt Manuscripts, MSS 117. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available



    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Burckhardt, Sigurd, 1916-1966
    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832
    Kleist, Heinrich von, 1777-1811
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
    Criticism--United States