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MAY 5, 2015

Co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies and the Department of English and Comparative Literature



rofessor Joy Kasson retired from the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in June 2015, celebrating over forty-four years of leadership for American Studies, English and Comparative Literature, and the Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kasson was at the center of the evolution of an undergraduate concentration into a fully developed department with fourteen full-time faculty, an undergraduate major and minor, concentrations in Folklore, Southern Studies, American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and Global American Studies, and the recently established Ph.D. in American Studies at UNC. Kasson’s extraordinary ability to recognize and seize opportunities built the foundational strengths not only of American Studies, but also of scores of partnerships and collaborations. She was in the vanguard of transformative initiatives at the university, including the Carolina Performing Arts and the Digital Humanities.

Kasson’s outstanding record of undergraduate teaching and service was celebrated when she received the University of North Carolina’s 2011 Thomas Jeferson Award, the highest honor bestowed on Carolina faculty. In 2013, the American Studies Association honored Professor Kasson with the prestigious Mary C. Turpie Award, given to the candidate who has demonstrated outstanding abilities and achievement in American Studies teaching, advising, and program. Joy Kasson arrived in Chapel Hill in the fall of 1971, fresh from the doctoral program in American Studies at Yale. Three years later, as a new assistant professor at the time, Kasson was appointed chair of the American Studies Curriculum and soon taught, scheduled classes, and planned extra-curricular activities for seventy-six majors. From 1974 onward, Kasson was repeatedly called upon to direct the department, totaling twenty-eight years of cumulative leadership as chair of American Studies.

As a professor, Joy Kasson inspired thousands of Carolina undergraduates and graduates as she has introduced the core principles and methodologies of American Studies in both lecture courses and seminars. Her expertise and love of American visual culture and the performance arts was demonstrated in her dynamic, engaged teaching, which encouraged undergraduates to appreciate the complex worlds of American expressive cultures. Kasson has advised hundreds of undergraduate students throughout her teaching at UNC, and also served on Ph.D. committees of many graduate students. Joy Kasson received numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Johnston Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Bowman and Gordon Gray Chair for Distinguished Teaching, and the Tanner Award for Undergraduate Teaching. The author of three books on American literature, the arts, and cultural history, she has been

recognized with fellowships from UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the National Humanities Center, competitive research leaves from the university, and appointments to the advisory boards of two of UNC’s most distinguished undergraduate programs, committee for Burch programs and the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence. She also served on the selection committee for Carolina’s Morehead-Cain Fellowships, which funds a four-year, competitive merit scholarship for undergraduates. Professor Kasson was selected for the inaugural Women’s Leadership Council’s Faculty Mentoring Award in 2006, and the Chapman Faculty Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. The Joy S. Kasson Excellence Fund in American Studies, established in 2011, honors Kasson’s extraordinary commitment to helping others realize the fullness of their teaching and scholarship goals. Past recipients have traveled to archives, undertaken ield research, invited

guest lecturers to campus, and realized dynamic and collaborative projects in the classroom, the community, and American Studies. Professor Joy Kasson’s commitment to excellence in her own work and cultivating it in others, her pragmatism and administrative acumen in pursuit of a larger vision for American Studies at UNC has been exemplary and inspiring. Most of all, Joy Kasson is deeply admired for her generosity of spirit with colleagues, students, and friends across the Carolina community. Simply stated, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill owes Joy Kasson the deepest debt of gratitude. Kasson was the chief architect behind an extraordinary academic vision that may have American Studies at its heart, but spans the breadth of the arts and humanities writ large.



on’t you feel, when you are around John and Joy Kasson, whether at their holiday party, or around their dining table, or even at a contentious department meeting, as if you’ve been elevated to a somewhat higher plane, where, perhaps, a little more, and a little better, is expected of you? John and Joy in some respects might seem to embody the ethos of the a more polite and generally more formal academic generation, supposing such a generation ever existed. It didn’t. What they bring us is a conscientious vision of life; not an inheritance but an achievement. Their generosity, grace, warmth, hospitality and goodwill sometimes seem almost too good to be true--and are thoroughly authentic. Their enthusiasm for and interest in others is arrestingly sincere as well as unselfconsciously and spontaneously egalitarian. They carry their citizenship as they do their scholarship, quietly and gracefully. John’s efervescence of wit can be dazzling. He is a card! In his wonderfully quick and

resourceful humor, his unerring instinct for the comic, there is an endearingly self-deprecating tone that springs from genuine humility as well as a bemused and candid perception of our collective follies. John knows how to make fun— and to arouse our own capacity for laughter and fun, often in situations where it is most called for, including in the classroom. In this sense John’s wit is of a piece with his deep intellectual and intuitive grasp of our most deeply held and least examined beliefs. And one always detects, within Joy’s genial manner, a searing intelligence properly intimidating. While you are assiduously cultivating your little half-acre of understanding, suddenly you realize she has the whole landscape in view, extending far to the horizon. And yet her main efort is always to help you feel that you’re pretty smart too, that you may amount to something—and, in trying your best to live up to her idea of you, you may actually, if glancingly and temporarily, succeed at it.

John Kasson is one of the most learned men I have ever met. He is diverse and comprehensive in his interests, capacious, exact, and imaginative in his reading, wonderfully versatile in the range of his understanding. His is a model of the liberally educated mind. I sometimes wonder whether there is anything John has not read—or whether he ever forgets what he has. If he has declined to beat the drums of poststructuralist theory it is not because he is unacquainted with it; he is more concerned with the historical concreteness, the day-to-day actuality of social life than with the structures of its domination. He is an indefatigably historical thinker, consistently alert to the igurative as well as the material cause in history, placing the human actor, with her capacity for creating symbolic meaning, at the heart of the historical narrative. In history, literature, popular culture (where he has been a pioneer researcher, scholar, and interpreter), in philosophy and the social sciences, particularly in the central streams of American literature and philosophy from the Puritan settlements to

the elite and popular cultures of the twentieth century, John’s erudition is seamless and vast. He is equally at home in the principal texts of English literature, in opera and musical theater, in ilm and popular song. In the several historical ields in which he has specialized, including the Revolutionary and early industrial periods, nineteenth and twentieth century manners, amusements, and cultural movements (most recently a study of the Great Depression through the life and career of Shirley Temple), he is thoroughly familiar both with the landmark scholarship and the most important current secondary work. I have also heard him speak in an informed and relective way about American architecture, photography, and technology. In politics he is a lucid and subtle observer, whose opinions—informed, imaginative, nuanced—I would not hesitate to consult were they to appear daily in The Economist or the New York Review of Books. Indeed I wish they did.

Rarely in my forty-ive year academic career did I ever encounter teachers as skillful, as dedicated, as conscientious as the Kassons. Joy’s teaching--in women’s art and literature, in visual culture, in cultural history, among other areas-works by gentle persuasion. A class with Joy Kasson virtually guarantees that students with proclivities towards literature, culture, and the arts will permanently dedicate themselves in some form to these ields. Having taught with Joy myself I can speak conidently to her vigorous and durable investment in her students, to her learning at once nuanced and profound, her enthusiasm for her subject, and her lucid and accessible way of articulating complex ideas. John is a brilliant lecturer, drawing on his own reading and research of course but at the same time open to new perspectives, methods, and insights and especially to the contributions of students. We have engaged together in the presence of crowded classrooms in historical and literary debates and conversations with one another and with them that I count among my

most stimulating and memorable experiences in the classroom. While John can be a formidable adversary, his knowledge readily accessible, his arguments swiftly and cogently formed, his eye keen for the logical error or the mistaken assumption, he is also a generous one, his ears open, always placing the personhood, his own and others’, above those sometimes transient intellectual commitments with which our selfhood is so often entangled. His aim is not to prevail, but to understand, to agree where possible, and ultimately to teach or, as the case may be, to be taught. Students, for the Kassons, are never secondary, never incidental; they are never dismissive, impatient, or contemptuous of students. Each takes considerable pains to know each individual student independently as a distinct personality, to measure carefully each of her particular strengths, and never to neglect or abandon any because they might be weak or ill-prepared. I have been amazed at the care both John and

Joy take with academic essays—their grasp of and appreciation for of each student’s particular style, their typically precise way of articulating its distinctive features, of pointing out to the student the path upon which her gifts are most likely to be realized. The best respond in kind; from them the students receive the most tender guidance, sound as it is unselish, as concerned for the intellectual and the personal as well as more strictly academic and professional outcomes. I have to assume that the Kassons’ intellectual style is something they have developed together over the years. What is it? Restlessly inquiring, often conident but not imperious, skeptical but not compulsively oppositional, pragmatic but never pedestrian. No mere retailers of ideas nor academic career counselors, both are “professors” in the traditional sense, scholars to whose inluence aspiring young intellectuals, recognizing the authority of a mature mind, deep learning, and an achieved vision, willingly

submit themselves to mentors whom they know will not compete with them but will nurture, honor, and instruct. In her many committee and board memberships--a mere glance at her vita will indicate her long involvement with the University of North Carolina Press, with the Women’s Leadership Council, the Morehead Foundation, and most recently the Carolina Performing Arts, to cite a small proportion of them--Joy has helped to shape the life of this university along humanistic lines and worked arduously to advance the position of women here as faculty and as students. But the record alone cannot capture the many subtle personal and professional interactions at various levels which constitute the life of a university professor in her intellectual, social and political incarnations; and yet this is precisely the milieu in which Joy performs her work, simply by virtue of her capacity for appreciation, her foresight, her power of discernment, and her immense patience for listening, understand-

ing, and remembering, of which all who associate with her have been the beneiciaries. Joy’s astonishing history of university and community service conspicuously includes her ten years as Chair of American Studies, during which among other things she converted a curriculum into a Department and inaugurated a graduate program. Yet she remains a scholar to be reckoned with. Her fellowships at the National Humanities Center and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, among other leaves, grants, and awards, have, along with her apparently inexhaustible energy and dedication, enabled her to remain one of the principal contributors to the ield. Consider her book Bufalo Bill’s Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History. Is that an American Studies title or what? She has sustained a continuous career of papers and presentations at regional, national and international meetings throughout her tenure as chair and up to the present, her intellectual and her administrative life conjoined

from beginning to end in a commitment with and through students and colleagues and the larger intellectual, social and political missions of a public university. So sooner has she completed a scholarly project than she is hot on the trail of another—so that happily we may look forward in the not too distant future, to a book on the progressive children’s author and illustrator Lois Lenski. One sees in Joy’s career the direction, unity, and power that comes of a temperament that delights in scholarship and learning but still more in sharing them with others. In dialogue, in negotiation, in reconciling aims, in sustaining in others a sense of membership and inclusion, in encouraging full participation—I speak here as much of her colleagues as of her students— in airming the importance of our individual and collective projects, and, not incidentally, in achieving her own purposes by these means, when she knows them to be appropriate and right, no one exceeds her. Her many accom-

plishments represent the force of a personality civil, considerate, and ingratiating in manner, cautious, thoughtful, and methodical in practice, clear and strong in vision and purpose. The Kassons have consistently been vigorous and consistent defenders of the highest academic standards and traditions, and though not easily swayed by the latest academic fashion are nevertheless strikingly progressive in outlook and often inspiringly hospitable to innovation. John expresses his positions persuasively and forcefully, and will not shrink from confrontation; while Joy, for her part, by a kind of sweet ferocity has over the years sustained among us a sense of collegiality, of mutual esteem, of openness and tolerance. One feels, in the Kassons’ presence, that it is a ine thing to be a member of an academic department; that the questions we entertain, the problems we address, the work we accomplish, which as all academicians secretly know are not always obviously of the utmost urgency or import,

nevertheless warrant energetic and thorough consideration. Speaking for myself, I always felt that my teaching at UNC was in some sense under their auspices and inluence, and have always found my association and friendship with them deeply reassuring. All of us who teach have, from time to time, had to answer a student who has expressed disappointment with the university, or with the academic life generally—a student sufering a loss of faith. I always said to them: the university is what we make it—it is never anything more than the few square feet of ground upon which we happen to be standing. Look at the Kassons, I would say. The space they create around themselves is our Harvard and Yale, which with their example we can summon into existence wherever we may happen to be.

My fondest memory of Joy may be my irst memory of Joy. She sent me an invitation to have lunch when I was a post-doc. I had just been in Chapel Hill for a month and hadn’t really met anyone yet since it was summer. We met in mid-August before the semester began, and she took me on my irst tour of the campus. One of the places we stopped was at the IAH. She explained what the Institute was—that it was a special place to support the research of faculty at UNC Chapel Hill. And then she said that one day I could be a fellow here. I was amazed. First of all, I didn’t know that I’d have a role at UNC beyond my two-year post-doc. Second, here was this esteemed and senior faculty member who went out of her way to get to know me, make me feel welcome, and most importantly, make me feel like I was already a part of UNC’s community. Not that I would one day it in—she assumed that I was already someone who did it in. For that, I’ll always be grateful to Joy. Because she saw me as a faculty member at UNC before I even did, and so she made me feel like I could see UNC being an academic home for me.


I met Joy the summer before I started college. My future college roommate and I were visiting UNC before we moved in that fall—wandering around the quad, exploring different buildings, and making our irst trek down to our new home, Hinton-James. We had just had our irst dinner on Franklin Street and were heading back down through campus when we decided to stop into Greenlaw. I was already thinking that I might major in American Studies, but was growing a little apprehensive about it walking through Greenlaw, knowing that this building would be where I would have to take my classes. It was about seven o’clock on a Friday night when we walked by Joy’s oice with the door open. The sign outside said “Chair of American Studies.” My roommate convinced me to knock on the door and introduce myself. Joy welcomed us in graciously even though I’m sure she had a good reason to still be in the oice on a Friday night in the summertime. Joy spent at least ten minutes telling me about the program and why I should consider American Studies while I blinked at her rather dumbfounded. I can’t remember what exactly she told me, but it’s obvious that it worked. Perhaps as it always is, Joy was the irst person that got me hooked on American Studies. I am so thankful she took ten minutes to talk to a nervous seventeen-year-old on a summer Friday night.


The Center for Documentary Studies wouldn’t be what it is today without Joy Kasson. I could always count on Joy, as aptly named as anyone on the planet. Among many tasks academic, we worked together making sure all of our joint professors known as the Lehman Brady professors in American Studies and Documentary Studies had a home in two places. She made everyone of them feel at home. She listed their courses. She made sure students signed up. Without her, the collaboration would have likely faltered. Here’s to you, Joy! Joy has been an undying supporter of all things documentary. If it had been up to her we’d probably even be located at UNC! Thank you, Joy, for believing! Thanks, Joy, for all the other support of CDS, for being on our board, for being a vocal supporter of all things we’ve tried to do to amplify voices in the broader community and to make our collaborative eforts for two neighbors a reality. And personally, thanks to you and John for being such great folks. May your years to come be illed with growth, intellectual engagement, strong friendships, and loving years with family and neighbors, far and wide. Abrazos, Charlie


I have known Joy for a long time, but for the last three years I have observed her more closely in her in her role as the irst Mellon Foundation Distinguished Scholar charged with initiating Arts@theCore. This program was designed to integrate the presenting program of Carolina Performing Arts into the academic fabric of the UNC curriculum, a bold an visionary concept, but also a high-risk venture with no guarantee of success. To say that the program has succeeded would be a huge understatement. The reason for that success is Joy Kasson. She was a role model herself for integrating performers and performances into her own teaching, and faculty all across the university responded to her because of the respect they have for her as a colleague. It has been beautiful to watch the progress made. Three years ago, 2012-13, there were 22 courses directly related to CPA performances. The following year, 2013-14, there were 37 courses; and in 2014-15, there were 60 courses. As I said above, this visionary program was not destined to succeed on the merits of the idea. It took a dedicated faculty member with high credibility among her colleagues to make this succeed. Joy hit the ball out of the park!


My favorite memories of Joy have to do with Carolina Performing Arts. Her love of the arts is infectious! She has frequently encouraged us to go see the latest show coming to campus, and I look forward to seeing her and John in the front row at Memorial Hall. She often knows more about what’s happening on campus than I do! I have been inspired by the ways in which she provides service and leadership to this campus through Arts@TheCore and through her classroom teaching. Thank you, Joy, for the knowledge, art, curiosity, and zest for life you have shared with us!


I met John and Joy my junior year of college when I studied abroad in London. Most semesters the study abroad program only has one UNC faculty member, but I was lucky enough to get two. Both John and Joy fully embraced the city and their courses encouraged us to get out of the classroom and explore. With Joy, I was both a tourist and a student, curating a hypothetical exhibit for the British Museum which sat between my lat the UNC building. My homework for John required me to visit local markets and chocolate shops, embracing the sights, smells, and lavors of British cuisine. My semester with the Kasson’s taught me to look at my surroundings in a new way, engaging academia with the easily overlooked wonders of our temporary home. To this day, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from them both, and I love telling people that I found American Studies by going to London.


As my mom, you’ve taught me so much—from making soulés to removing splinters. But you’ve also taught me, mainly by example, to be a strong, kind, professional woman. One of my favorite memories is of attending a session of your Ragtime freshman seminar when I was about the age of your students. I could appreciate the moment from both sides: seeing you through the students’ eyes, seeing them through yours. Sometimes I look back and wonder why I didn’t always know being an academic was what I wanted to do—but I think it’s because you and Dad were (and are, of course) such good parents. The older I get, the more I want to grow up to be just like you.


I irst met Joy in 2014 during our term as Academic Leadership Fellows. I am grateful to carry with me the gifts of her honesty, humility, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, curiosity and kindness. What a magniicent friend and role model!


My favorite Joy memory? Easy enough—it’s when Joy brought Trombone Shorty to UNC, and then invited my entire class to the performance. Oh what a night! Thanks, Joy, for knowing where the really important sounds come from, and how they sustain.


Thank you, Joy, for working very hard during your tenure as chair to preserve and expand American Indians Studies. When the recession and budget crisis resulted in the cancellation of a search to replace Mike, you lobbied the dean with subtlety and tact and got the search reopened. The result was the appointment of Dan Cobb. You saw the need for a scholar of American Indian literature and worked tirelessly for the targeted appointment of Chris Teuton, whose classes introduced scores of students to the words, ideas, and other expressions of Native people. Your support for American Indians extended beyond the department. When Clara Sue Kidwell retired as director of the American Indian Center, you went with me to meet with the vice-provost in an efort to protect the center and to bring it closer to the academic program, an efort that did not succeed but nevertheless demonstrated your broad vision for AIS. Towny Ludington was the founding chair of AIS but you were the sustaining chair, and I am very grateful to you.


Our Southern mamas trained us “not to tell stories” but only speak the truth. So we won’t tell stories on Joy. The truth we’ll is is that we are enormously grateful to her for extending the sheltering wing of American Studies over the Folklore Program and helping it ind a stronger perch within the structure of the University. And grateful to her and John for their constant friendship and many kindnesses, including being warm and kind to one of our daughters who had her irst experience as a babysitter under their friendly watch. She found them so encouraging that now she has three children of her own to sit with.


Having served as Joy’s colleague in American Studies since 1994, it is hard to imagine American Studies and Greenlaw absent Joy’s smiling presence. My abiding memories of her are and will be as one of the most caring and unselish professional citizens I have had the pleasure to work with in my 37 years at UNC. If professional service earned frequent lyer miles, Joy and John could ly irst-class for the rest of their lives, but Joy would probably give the points up to her colleagues and students. She genuinely wanted to make her department, her university, her ield better and more humane through her service to them, and she succeeded!


At the end of our irst semester of the Ph.D. program, Joy and John had us over to their house for dinner to celebrate the end of American Studies 700. After dinner was over, Joseph Decosimo brought out his banjo and played for us. After playing a few songs, we tried to igure out a song that we all knew in common. The only song that we could think of was “This Little Light of Mine.” Joy led us in at least ten rounds of the same verse, unfortunately we could only remember the irst verse. During the verses we would say “All the way to____” depending on who we were talking to and where they were headed for the holidays. It seemed incredibly silly at the time and did not make sense, but Joy’s enthusiasm made every verse special. For my cohort, that was the night that solidiied many of our relationships and general collegiality. I know that I speak for everyone in my cohort when I say that Joy welcomed us into the Ph.D. program with open arms and made us all feel special in some way.


Thank you Joy! You have been a wonderful colleague since I irst arrived at UNC (1986). I have always enjoyed serving with you on committees, working together on special projects, and analyzing the pleasures or challenges of chairing a department. I have deeply appreciated your insights, lively intellect, and commitment to the arts and humanities. You have a great ability to bring people together at lively holiday parties and also at diicult discussions of complex issues. We’ve shared many events, conversations, and memorable events, and I’ve always learned from your comments, your enthusiasm for teaching, and your spirit of service to the University. Thank you for constantly enriching my own UNC life while you have constantly enriched the life of our entire UNC community! I can hardly imagine UNC meetings without your wise and fun presence. With best wishes for a very active and enjoyable retirement.


My favorite memory out of forty-plus years of hundreds of favorite memories of Joy: The three of us are huddled in my oice, Joy, Towny and I, the teaching team for next semester’s honors AmStud seminar. We toss themes, titles, events into the air and watch them settle like crows on the table. I sit back, pleased by our brilliance. Joy leans forward and says, softly-irmly, that familiar Joy tone: “let’s igure out what holds all this together.” Oh, yes, she is teaching me how to team-teach. And another: There’s Joy marching in her red coat toward Greenlaw, and I speed up to catch her smile. What better way to start a day!


MY LIFE OF JOY When I sat in my seat, that was how we did meet All because of my sparkling shoes. With such grace and such taste, quite at home every place Joy was ready for action, enthused. CPA was the place that did ofer this grace And Row A was the best place to be. Soon, with ine food and wine, a true friend I did ind With wit, warmth and wisdom and glee. Then, London came calling and soon I was hauling My suitcase to get on the plane. Our generous host was the one with the most— And now with a call onto Spain. With inesse she’ll address, and express and profess As she’s done her whole life with the best. And now she’ll explore, and learn more and more! With this gift of a friend, I am blessed.


Dear Joy, Some of my fondest memories of our early days in Chapel Hill take place in your living room and dining room! From the very irst, you and John made us feel at home. That’s so important when you irst move to a place, so crucial. Then, over the years, we’ve met so many wonderful people, both “new” and “old,” in your home—people who have enriched our lives over time. Thank you and John for your open doors and open hearts. We will remember you always for your many kindnesses to us. Love,


My favorite memory of Joy is her little black book--and the organized and precise way she takes notes on only the most important results of or things she has to do after a meeting. Joy was the irst chair who said to me that her goal was to help me (and others in the department) progress in the promotion process. She saw herself as a shepherd to this lock--and it made me want to be a member of this department.


To know Joy is to know her love of the arts. We share an appreciation for all things artistic: museums, theater, dance, visual art, and music. I respect Joy’s unparalleled advocacy for the arts and her keen approach to incorporating artistic considerations into her courses. My fondest memory of Joy (there are actually too many to name) would be my visit to Chapel Hill. I was moved by her hospitality and the care she invested in crafting a visit that would highlight the full value of Chapel Hill. Chief among her selling points was Chapel Hill’s creative community, a community which I soon discovered she fully immersed. There is a quote that simply states that “Art makes us feel less alone.” To know Joy is to know her love of the arts and her keen ability through the arts to sustain community and ofer a level of hospitality that is unmatched. This semester ive graduate students embarked on a journey with John called Popular Culture. The course covered various topics, and was driven by robust discussions. We soon realized that John was a treasure among a slowly fading tradition representing the best that academia has to ofer. Through his wit, well appointed attire, and compassion for us we were exposed to something special. We bonded over many things driven by John’s person investment in the topics and our individual and collective success.


Dear Joy, I remember you once describing one of the irst faculty dinners you attended shortly after arriving in Chapel Hill, where the (mostly senior) men talked about their pensions and the women about where to store their furs in the summer. You and John decided to stay at UNC anyway. Now we are the ones who talk about our pensions and furs (or at least our pensions). Thanks for staying at UNC, and for being such a model colleague, teacher, and leader for so many of us, not only in American Studies but throughout the university. Congratulations on a splendid career at UNC, and best of luck continuing it into retirement. Best always,


I have always been thankful when Joy would speak up in our English and Comparative Literature Faculty meetings (not something we can say for all our colleagues, right?). Joy always said something of substance, and it was wise, tempered, and generous. I counted on her statements to help me calibrate my own ethical perspectives. When my mentor passed away, I reached out to Joy to help me think through where I was professionally. Her words, as always, were sage and kind. If we all tried to emulate Joy just a bit in our daily lives, then our little part of the world would be a better, and yes, more joyful place.


There are no words that can fully express my deep gratitude to Joy Kasson as a loyal mentor, generous colleague, and dear friend. Joy welcomed me into UNC’s “Curriculum” in American Studies as an adjunct professor in 2003, and then, for the next TWELVE years, steadily guided my journey to full professor. I will never forget our many meetings over tea at the Weathervane “to catch up.” She’d ask, “tell me about your writing?” “Where are you in the book?” “What are you teaching this fall?,”—AND— she really wanted to know! Over the years, I watched with great admiration as Joy similarly mentored new colleagues not only in our department, but throughout the university. This is what Joy does. A great teacher, a gifted department chair and administrator, a trusted mentor, a brilliant scholar, gracious party host, and devoted wife and mother! Who else could teach a full day, run a department, write six recommendation letters, go to three more meetings, build a graduate program, write a lecture, check in with her children and beloved John, weed the basil, book tickets to a concert, and then cheerfully throw a dinner party for that same hungry department and out-of-town guests?!? Thank you, Joy—with all my love and appreciation.


We all know of how the extraordinary partnership of Joy and John for more than forty years built a tiny Curriculum with a couple of faculty appointments to a thriving American Studies Department with a doctoral program, but we are also privileged to see their wonderful loving partnership at home celebrated at their annual holiday party with their children. My favorite memories are watching Joy blush as John honors their December anniversary by publicly proclaiming her virtues in his annual toast in front of family, friends, and colleague. It reminds us all of how much they truly love each other!


I always feel better after talking with Joy; inspired to think about something new, or, simply reairmed as to where one should be, culturally speaking, in one’s life.


Dear Joy and John: Thank you for all you have done for Carolina and the world. I’m so sorry I’m not there tonight to toast you both and all you have done. Joy Kasson is without a doubt the best teacher in the humanities that I ever had. Of course, I never signed up for any of her classes, but I should have. Fortunately, I got the chance to learn from her in the leadership program and through our friendship over the years. She taught me about critical theory. She taught me about the way that new disciplines like American Studies emerge and become ixtures in the academy. She taught me a lot about the sociology and psychology of humanists. She taught us all about how the ine arts and performing arts inform us about the human condition. She is a champion for great teaching and great scholarship. My favorite memory of Joy Kasson is listening. Listening to her teach us all so much. Thank you, Joy!




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