English Department

English Department

Prof. Peter Heinegg

Prof. Peter Heinegg

Peter Heinegg Remembered

Professor Emeritus Peter Heinegg, who had retired in 2017 after 42 years at Union, died June 1, 2021 at his home in Schenectady. He was 79.

Peter Heinegg was a force of nature and a genius. A polyglot who knew 14 languages, he translated over 50 books, including Leo Tolstoy's Confessions and Primo Levi's Is This a Human Being? Peter was a prolific scholar and an inexhaustible geyser of knowledge and wisdom, both classic and modern. He was honest, forthright, sometimes contrarian, but never boring. His enthusiasm for knowledge and for teaching was truly remarkable, and he regularly took on overload classes, including those at 8 am. Students adored and respected him for the breadth and depth of his knowledge, his kindness, and his dynamic, unforgettable lectures. In his 42 years of teaching at Union, he touched thousands of lives and inspired many minds. As a mentor and a colleague, Peter was generous with his time, a great person to debate with and to ask for advice. He was also hilariously funny. Peter's passing is a great loss for Union, but his legacy lives on in his numerous books and in the hearts of his many grateful alumni and colleagues. Светлая память, друже!

About the English program at Union

Writers engage the mind and the heart in search of answers to some of life’s toughest questions. Who am I, and what shaped me? How should I live my life? What gives life meaning? What is love? What is justice? What is evil? What is wrong with society — and can it be changed? Like painting, photography, sculpture, music, dance, and philosophy, literature confronts and expresses the most fundamental quandary of all: what it means to be human.

Student activities

Learning and literature at Union are not restricted to the classroom. English majors often participate in Mountebanks, the College dramatic society, contribute to Idol, the College arts and literary magazine, and write for Concordiensis, the student newspaper. In addition, those students interested in literature sometimes edit, and frequently publish in, The Minerva Review, an undergraduate scholarly journal for students from Union, Hamilton, Skidmore, Wellesley, and Siena.

Why study English?

The English faculty is very proud of what its majors have achieved after graduation from Union. Some have received prestigious awards, including Watson and Fulbright scholarships, and graduate fellowships from Washington University and Rutgers. Some of our graduates went on to attend law school at Cornell, Harvard, and George Washington. Others still have studied creative writing and journalism at Columbia, NYU, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, and Washington University, or completed degrees in business at the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford