Walter Andrews received his PhD in Ottoman literature from our department, where he had studied under James Stewart-Robinson, Gernot Windfuhr, James Bellamy, Andrew Ehrenkreutz, and others, in 1970. With the support of another Michigan graduate, Jere Bacharach (PhD 1967), he was immediately recruited by the University of Washington, where he was a pillar of Near Eastern Studies long past his retirement.
Few scholars have single-handedly redefined an entire field in the way Walter Andrews changed our understanding of Ottoman poetry. Poetry’s Voice, Society’s Song (1985) became for many the entry point to an appreciation of this elitist, sophisticated, complex art. Andrews rescued the Ottoman ghazel from Orientalist and modernist disdain and opened the way to a reading as critical expression of societal concerns. The Age of Beloveds (2004, together with Mehmet Kalpaklı) may be considered one of the most ambitious attempts at writing Ottoman cultural history. Here Andrews showed the deep connectivity between Ottoman and European love poetry in the early modern period, and showed how it was grounded in the social realities of the time. Walter Andrews excelled as a translator of poetry, as a pioneer of digital humanities, and a creative and enthusiastic teacher who could get specialists and non-specialists equally excited.
Walter Andrews maintained his connection to Michigan throughout his career. He edited a festschrift for James Stewart-Robinson, his former advisor, in 2001, and established a fund for graduate students in his name. Özgen Felek, who received her PhD from MES in 2010, became a lifelong mentee. Among the many awards he received was the 2006 The Lighthouse Award by the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan.
His legacy as mentor, teacher, and scholar will continue at Michigan.