The German Studies Association organized a “Jonathan Hess Memorial Roundtable” at its forty-second annual conference held in Pittsburgh between September 27 and September 30. More than a hundred people, including many of Professor Hess’s former doctoral students as well as colleagues from around the nation, came to honor and remember him and recalled together the impact he had on their professional and personal lives.
Professor Eric Downing, Interim Chair in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, held one of four prepared eulogies in honor of Professor Hess. “The GSA event was very moving,” Professor Downing explained in an interview. “There were lots of stories, tears and laughter. It was wonderful how so many of his former students and colleagues, and also present ones, came and spoke, and so many others whose lives he touched. I didn’t sleep for several days afterwards—but I’m so glad we had a chance to bring together so many of those in the field who needed to come together and share.” Joshua Shelly, a current Carolina-Duke graduate student who was one of Professor Hess’s doctoral students, was also in attendance: “Seeing the impact Jonathan had on so many people — former teachers, students, colleagues, and even his doctoral advisor — was quite emotional.”
Following the prepared presentations by Professor Downing, Professor Liliane Weissberg, Professor Hess’s doctoral advisor from the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Martha Helfer (Rutgers University), and Professor Skolnik (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), members of the audience were invited to share their own memories. Joshua Shelly recalled just some of these many memories. “Together, we told stories about our time with Jonathan and fondly recalled his wit and humor, his kindness towards us, and his joie de vivre,” […]