John Nagy ’00 M.A. | September 30, 2020
Father Thomas E. Blantz, CSC, ’57, ’63M.A. begins at the beginning. In The University of Notre Dame: A History, published in August by Notre Dame Press, he spares his readers the long, theoretical introduction customary to academic history. Instead he launches with a theme-setting story: Father Edward Sorin commenting appreciatively that his conspicuously English first name carried no “vestige of nationality.” That blessing allowed annual campus celebrations of Sorin’s patron saint’s feast day to serve as yet another sign that the school he founded in the Indiana backwoods was to be wholly Catholic and wholly American from the start.
The author of three books, Blantz has lived a significant portion (but keeps himself out) of the history he writes about, an arc that stretches from undergraduate student who arrived in 1953 to professor emeritus of history today and spans graduate studies as well as administrative work in residence halls, the archives and the Main Building. Along the way, he acquired sensitivity to the needs of readers, noting his book’s short preface and tidy conclusion with the inauguration of Father John I. Jenkins, CSC, as University president in 2005. “I thought they were sufficient,” he says of largely bypassing those traditional elements in a volume that weighs in at 605 pages. “I did not want the book to be impossibly large.”
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