Hart Wegner is Professor of German, Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and chairs its Department of Film, of which he is the founder. He was educated first at the ancient Elisabet Schule--founded two-hundred years before Columbus.--in the Silesian capital Breslau. At the age of fifteen, he began work in a coal mine in the Ruhr District of Germany. In an ironic twist, Wegner then graduated from the Combat Intelligence School of the U. S. Army. Under the G. I. Bill, he studied philosophy and history at the University of Vienna (Kainz, Gabriel, Topitsch, Hantsch). Back in America he went on to receive his B. A. and M. A. from the University of Utah and his Ph. D. from Harvard University.
Throughout his career, Hart has championed the study of film as an independent, academically respectable discipline, which need not serve as ancilla to any other. To this end he has been teaching and lecturing at many universities, as well as teaching teachers of film during thirteen summers at the University of California Berkeley, while serving there as Visiting Professor at other times.
Wegner has also worked extensively in television. He has written and hosted three series on public television dealing with the world of film (the longest ran for 105 weeks) and has worked on specials as well. For the Educational Technology Development Satellite Project of the Education Commission of the States, he was a consultant/writer.
He has programmed and hosted the International Film Series at UNLV for twenty-five seasons. The Series was, at times, the only venue left in the state of Nevada dedicated to the showing of foreign films. Beginning with the Fall Season, the Series will be named after Hart Wegner in his honor.
Wegner has received numerous grants and awards, such as inclusion in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories. He was the first foreign-born writer elected to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. He won the Charles Vanda Award for Creativity in its first year and the Regents Award for Creativity in its second year. He also received the William Morris for Excellence in Teaching. In 1998 he will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Shenandoah University, Virginia.
Naturally, he has written on the teaching of film, but also on John Gardner, V. S. Naipul, Bruce Chatwin, Bert Brecht, Vittorio de Sica, Jean Renoir, Virgil Goethe, Otto Preminger, Douglas Sirk, John Ford, Friedrich Duerrenmatt, and others. He recreated the original screen play of Josef von Sternberg's Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel, Harcourt Brace) and published Houses of Ivory, a first collection of his fiction (Soho Press, dist., by Farrar, Strauss, Giroux). Houses of Ivory was adapted by the Library of Congress for its Talking Book Program for the Blind, and recorded by the Capital American Foundation for the Blind. Off Paradise, a second collection of Wegner's fiction, is almost complete. A novel, influenced by Chinese folk-lore and poetry, is a work in progress.
Hart Wegner is also
planning a Research Center for American Film whose
initial pillars are the Chuck Jones Collection of
Animation Art (a comprehensive representation of his work
while he headed the Animation Unit at MGM) and the Howard
R. Hughes Film Archive, which consists of the largest
collection of motion picture material documenting the
tycoon's involvement in the film industry.
JR & F