Literary Arts + Studies


Mike Fink

Mike Fink came to RISD in 1957 out of Yale with an AMT from Harvard as a Brown graduate student. The English department had an established curriculum of freshman and sophomore requirements in American Literature, World Literature and Freshman Composition. As electives replaced those courses general to all area faculty, he taught a course on the new diverse voices of minorities. That option grew into his Jewish Narrative. The RISD Film Society turned into his Hollywood History class, and eventually his Freshman sections metamorphosed into his Journalism workshop. His art form seems to be the newspaper column as a genre of classical essay and memoir mixed with reviews and interviews, and he publishes a wide range of such pieces in local, national and international magazines. In cooperation with the FAV area and in particular in partnership with Professor Peter O’Neill, he has produced and directed, or participated in, several documentary films, most notably Here We Live Again, a study of Holocaust survivors who came to work and build families in Rhode Island. That project was funded by RICH and the Rhode Island Foundation. He and O’Neill also, with Professor Merlin Szasz, created a video portrait of Fink’s uncle/cousin Herbert L. Fink, who first brought him to RISD (where he had studied and was teaching) for the collection in the RISD library, which also houses a movie collection dedicated to him by his college friend, Joel Freedman. These are a few of the highlights from Fink’s half century and more at Rhode Island School of Design, a blessed place of promise and fulfillment, of dream and reality.