UNH Today: Campus Life Articles
Burt Feintuch, director of the Center for the Humanities and professor of English and folklore, passed away on Oct. 29, 2018.Feintuch is remembered by colleagues as generous, kind, supportive and fair-minded. His demeanor was calm, his approach quiet, yet he fiercely advocated for faculty and their research. He was both steady and forward-thinking in the humanities — he respected tradition but looked for where change was needed and quietly worked to effect that change. He was passionate about how the humanities could engage with the public and make a difference. Defining humanities broadly, Feintuch provided Center funds for a wide range of faculty research projects across the College.
As a scholar of folklore, he was passionate and infinitely curious about culture. He loved talking about places — especially those he went back to again and again, such as Ghana, Cape Breton and New Orleans — and he actively sought out their people, traditions and nuances. He liked finding community with people, particularly when it could happen over good food and drink.
Feintuch came to UNH in 1988 to direct the then-new Center for the Humanities after having spent 13 years teaching in, and then directing, the graduate folklore program at Western Kentucky University. While in Kentucky, he chaired the Kentucky Humanities Council, which won an award for excellence during his tenure. Under his leadership, the UNH Center for the Humanities built an endowment, developed many interdisciplinary programs, and supported hundreds of faculty research and public humanities projects, as well as many lecture series, conferences and other endeavors. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975.
Feintuch published widely on roots music, cultural sustainability and other topics in traditional and vernacular culture. From 1990-95 he edited the Journal of American Folklore, the leading folklore journal in the English-speaking world. In 2005, with David H. Watters, he published the “Encyclopedia of New England” (Yale University Press), …