Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Victor Kramer Receives Award As Merton Scholar

Published August 4, 2005

Victor A. Kramer, Ph.D., professor emeritus of English at Georgia State University, was awarded the “Louis Award” for distinguished Merton scholarship at the ninth general meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society in San Diego on June 12.

Kramer and his wife, Dewey Weiss Kramer, Ph.D., who live in Decatur, founded The Merton Annual in 1986, which will publish its next edition, volume 18, in January 2006.

He is also the editor of volume four of a seven-volume publication of Merton’s voluminous journal, which was released 25 years after his death in 1968. Volume four is entitled “Turning Toward the World: 1961-1963” and was published by Harper Collins in 1996.

The “Louis Award,” which takes its name from Merton’s title in religious life—Father Louis—is given every two years by the society to recognize an outstanding contribution by one of its members in studying and making the work of Merton more widely known.

One of the most important Catholic writers of the 20th century, Merton, who lived as a Cistercian monk at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, was at the same time a prolific writer whose over 60 books included spiritual essays, social commentary, poetry, autobiography and translation. Over one million copies of his autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain,” have been sold. Other prominent titles include “New Seeds of Contemplation,” “The Sign of Jonas,” and “The Waters of Siloe.”

Kramer was particularly honored as founding and continuing editor of The Merton Annual. The annual is subtitled “Studies in Culture, Spirituality and Social Concerns.” Each volume includes an interview with someone close to Merton, unpublished pieces by Merton, book reviews of work by and about him, and related materials. The annual also includes other articles about Catholic literature and culture and Catholic literary and spiritual issues.

First published in 1988, the annual is currently published by Fons Vitae, publisher of books about Eastern and comparative religious studies, with the support of the International Thomas Merton Society and the Thomas Merton Foundation of Louisville, Ky. Volume 17 can be ordered through bookstores or the publisher.

Kramer, who taught at Georgia State from 1969 to 1999 and served as director of the Aquinas Center at Emory University from 1999 to 2003, has also published four books about James Agee and three about Walker Percy. He currently teaches for Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., in its summer institute and graduate programs. He will teach a course on modern Catholic fiction this fall at the Atlanta extension site of Spring Hill College.