Arthur Naething Tribute by Elizabeth Trostler Laban ‘85

Thirty-five years ago this month, I completed and handed in Mr. Naething’s iconic assignment: the tragedy paper. I had no idea then how much I would think about it from that time forward. Thanks to that paper, I always felt prepared to take on challenging research projects. I also credit that paper with leading me to my journalism career.

That excited feeling I had for the first time when I sat in my bedroom as a teenager surrounded by books analyzing tragedy, I would continue to experience every time I returned to a newsroom with a full reporter’s notebook. I still feel that now when I sit down to write fiction. It wasn’t that paper alone that changed me. It was also the Moby Dick project and the Hamlet soliloquy. It was listening to Mr. Naething dismiss us each day by telling us to, “Go Forth and Spread Beauty and Light”. I knew he believed we could. As I sit with my hands over the keyboard and, on good days, the sentences come tumbling out, I often hear his words mixing with mine. You know them: magnitude, hubris, order to chaos. All the things that make a good story. My time in Mr. Naething’s Senior English class was magical and helped me become the writer, and the person, I am today. Mr. Naething gave me the words, and he gave me the passion and confidence to use them.