Fonds F2300 - Sheldon Zitner fonds

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Reference code



Sheldon Zitner fonds


  • 195?-2005 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

66 cm of textual records
1.64 MB of electronic records (453 files)
1 audio compact disc (ca. 54 min.)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Sheldon Paul Zitner was a Professor of English at Trinity College and a published poet. He was born on April 20, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest son of Dora and Morris Zitner and brother of Robert J. Zitner (b. 1932). He was educated at Townsend Harris High School (Flushing, New York) and subsequently enrolled in Brooklyn College at the age of 16. After three years he enlisted in the army and served in the United States Air Corps in the South Pacific during the Second World War. Upon his return he continued his studies and received his BA (1947), an MA from New York University (1948) and a PhD from Duke University (1955). In 1951 Prof. Zitner became an assistant professor at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia. In 1957 he took a position in the English department at Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa) where he held several positions, becoming the Carter-Adams Professor of Literature (1963) and Roberts Honour Professor (1964). He also served as the chairman of the Department of English (1960, 1962-63) and the chairman of the Division of Humanities (1964-68).

In 1969 Zitner came to Trinity College. His research interests included Shakespeare, Renaissance literature (especially drama), literary criticism, and contemporary poetry. He taught a variety of courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and supervised numerous doctoral theses. He published extensively in academic publications and edited three scholarly editions: Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (Oxford University Press 1993), Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Manchester University Press 1984), and Edmund Spenser’s The Mutabilitie Cantos (Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1968). During his career Prof. Zitner took on many administrative and committee positions within the Department of English and was a member of professional organizations including the Shakespeare Association of America, the Toronto Renaissance and Reformation Colloquium, the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English, the Northeastern Modern Language Association, and the Society for Textual Scholarship.

Upon his retirement in 1989, Zitner began to write poetry full-time. His first book of poetry, The Asparagus Feast, was published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 1999, followed by Before We Had Words (MQUP) in 2002, The Hunt on the Lagoon (Goose Lane Editions) in 2005, and a small chapbook, Missing Persons (Junction Books), in 2003. His poems were published in various literary publications including The Walrus, Fiddlehead, and The Nation. In the years prior to his death, he began working on a translation project with Herbert Batt, “Chinese Vernacular Poetry, 1919-1949”, which remains unpublished. He maintained strong ties with Trinity College after his retirement and was an active member of the Friends of the Library. In 2001 he received an honorary doctorate of sacred letters from the College in recognition of his many years of teaching.

Sheldon Zitner married Dona M. Waldhauser of Brooklyn, New York in 1947 or 1948. Their daughterr, Julia was born 15 March 1963. Julia Zitner married Duncan Steel of Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England in and they have one daughter, Rebecca Steel, born 2005. Sheldon Paul Zitner died on April 26, 2005, in Toronto.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Materials accrued in three accessions from Sheldon Zitner’s literary executor Fred Tromly.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created by Sheldon P. Zitner over the course of his career as a scholar, writer, and poet. Files include published and unpublished drafts of poetry, correspondence relating to his career as a poet, drafts of academic essays, and various other records relating to his career. Also included is a copy of an interview of Zitner with Michael Enright from 2000.

Contains series

  1. The Asparagus Feast.
  2. Before We Had Words.
  3. Missing Persons.
  4. The Hunt on the Lagoon.
  5. Unpublished Materials
  6. Published Materials
  7. Biographical and teaching files
  8. Electronic records

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

After Zitner’s death, records were re-arranged at the file level by his literary executor Fred Tromly. Subsequently, materials have been arranged into series by the archivist. Electronic records have been migrated to PDF/A format for long-term preservation and access.

Conditions of access and use area

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Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is held by Julia Zitner Steel

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  • English



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