Enlightening new scholars
/UCLA Today Staff
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, V.A. (Del) Kolve learned something vital from the Book-of-the-Month Club novels he began reading in the fourth grade.
"The only thing that gave me a sense that there was a world larger than farms, a one-room country schoolhouse and a very small high school was books," said Kolve, the son of Norwegian immigrants.
Books not only opened for him a window on the world, but gave him the intellectual stimulation and love for literature that have made him a leading scholar in medieval English literature and art. On Feb. 23, Kolve added to an already lengthy list of honors when he received the Faculty Award — the College of Letters and Science's highest honor — for his outstanding research, teaching and university service.
"Professor Kolve is a world-class scholar and a world-class teacher, joining two professional roles without sacrificing either," said Thomas Wortham, English department chair, who nominated Kolve for the award.
Kolve's list of honors began with a University of Wisconsin scholarship. A Rhodes Scholarship took him to Oxford, where he stayed for seven years, earning his M.A. and D.Phil. in 1962. He held faculty positions at Stanford and the University of Virginia before coming to campus in 1986 as the UCLA Foundation Professor in English.
While working on his thesis at Oxford, Kolve became interested in medieval visual arts, which tied into his research of that period and his passion for painting and sculpture. He is currently finishing two books on symbolic meaning in the visual arts of medieval drama and thought. A preeminent Chaucerian, Kolve is also completing the second volume of the three-volume "Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative."
Kolve, a 1995 UCLA Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award winner, has helped train many professors in medieval literature and takes tremendous pride in his students. "I have a very remarkable extended family of former graduate students. They're wonderful here," he said.