I’ve heard from a reliable source that Leon Kass, upon completing his last class at the University of Chicago, received a grand (and well-deserved) ovation from his students. It was a touching moment, when the beloved professor announced what everyone in the class knew—that this would be the end of his teaching career—and perhaps no one was more touched than the professor himself, who was visibly moved.
In the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, The Scrapbook paid tribute to both Kass and his wife, Amy, who is also retiring. Here is the tribute, in full:
Two who reside high on the (short and selective) list of people THE SCRAPBOOK really admires—Amy and Leon Kass—are retiring at the end of this term after nearly three and a half decades of teaching at the University of Chicago. They are being showered with appropriate honors—Amy is receiving the Norman Maclean Faculty Award for outstanding contributions to teaching at the alumni convocation on June 5, and students from around the country are coming to Hyde Park to celebrate and express their gratitude to the Kasses at a reception on campus.
For those who won’t have been in Chicago, and who may not be direct students of the Kasses, there’s still a chance to learn from and about them, and to honor them, in a different way: Acquire the volume of essays that’s just been published by Rowman & Littlefield, Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver: Honoring the Work of Leon R. Kass. The book features, along with an invaluable bibliography of Kass’s works, 16 essays whose “consistently high quality . . . makes this volume a fitting tribute to a stellar thinker and gifted teacher” (as our colleague William Kristol observes in his blurb).
Some of the contributions deal with Kass’s own work—notably, the essays by frequent TWS contributors Eric Cohen, Yuval Levin, and Paul McHugh. Others address varied writers and thinkers in diverse but always insightful ways: You’ll read Homer, Sophocles, Jane Austen, and Henry James differently (and better!) after pondering Amy Kass on the Odyssey, Paul Ludwig on Antigone, Adam Schulman on Pride and Prejudice, and Harvey Mansfield on Washington Square. It’s a spectacular festschrift, assembled for a remarkable thinker and teacher. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of the marvelous anthology edited, appropriately, by both Kasses: Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.
The Scrapbook is pleased to join in the celebration of both of the -Kasses’ achievements.