International Literary Scholar Awarded LSU Boyd Professorship

BATON ROUGE – Mar. 4, 2011 – The LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday unanimously awarded a Boyd Professorship to LSU English Professor J. Gerald Kennedy, an internationally renowned scholar of early American literature.

“Professor Kennedy has worked ceaselessly on behalf of the educational mission of LSU through his excellence in scholarship, his outstanding teaching and mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students and his exemplary service on behalf of his colleagues, all to ensure that lives are transformed through the academic experience,” read the Board resolution, awarding the Boyd professorship, the LSU System’s most prestigious academic rank.

The William A. Read Professor of English Literature at LSU, Kennedy is regarded as one of the foremost scholars of 19th and 20th century American short fiction and an expert on the works of authors Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

LSU System President Dr. John Lombardi described Kennedy as a “superb example of the distinction recognized by a Boyd Professorship.”

“His work is internationally recognized as outstanding in every respect and his prolific publications on American fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries have put him in the company of the world’s most significant humanistic scholars,” said Lombardi in noting Kennedy’s nearly 40 years as a Main Campus faculty member.  “Boyd Professor Kennedy offers a clear and timely demonstration of the value and significance of high quality humanistic scholarship within the context of America’s great research universities.”

Former LSU Arts and Sciences Dean Guillermo Ferreyra, who noted in his nomination letter that Kennedy enjoys a “stellar international reputation” and that he is “one of the university’s most visible and most respected scholars,” recommended Kennedy for the honor.

Once nominated, the System’s Boyd Professorship Review Committee, composed of faculty from LSU System campuses, including active and retired Boyd professors, as well as the System’s chief academic officer, solicits recommendations about the candidate’s work from recognized scholars in the field in the United States and abroad.  A potential nominee is never told before the Board of Supervisors vote that he or she is being evaluated for the professorship.

In their responses, the external scholars praised Kennedy’s “rigorous philosophical thought” and “keen feel for illuminating literary analysis.”  “He is unquestionably one of the premier scholars in American literary and cultural studies,” one reviewer wrote. “He is without doubt one of the most important scholars in the fields of American Studies and American Literature and you are fortunate to have him on your faculty,” commented another.

Kennedy is the 68th System professor and the 44th LSU A&M faculty member awarded the coveted title since it was established in 1953 to honor brothers David and Thomas Boyd, early faculty members and presidents of LSU.

Bestowing a Boyd Professorship is based on a nominee attaining both national and international recognition for outstanding research, teaching or other creative achievements.  Currently, there are 19 active Boyd Professors; 16 are retired; six departed for positions elsewhere; and 27 are deceased.

Kennedy received his Bachelor’s Degree from Grove City (Pennsylvania) College in 1969; his Master’s Degree from Duke University in 1970 where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors; and his PhD from Duke in 1973.  He came to LSU in 1973 as an assistant professor of English, rising to the rank of full professor in 1985.  He is the author of 14 books as well as 16 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious academic journals such as American Literary History and American Literature. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his reputation for research excellence acknowledged with both a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship in 2003 and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2002.

In addition, Kennedy was the recipient of a Louisiana Board of Regents Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars (ATLAS) Grant in 2005, a LSU Distinguished Research Master Award in 1999, and the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 1993.

Last year, Kennedy, the author of “Paris, the Luminous Years: Toward the Making of the Modern,” was interviewed as part of a national PBS documentary on how the French capital served as a creative focal point among literary expatriates during the early 20th century.  He also served as a founding member and vice president of the Hemingway Foundation and Society Executive Board, and as President of the Poe Studies Association.

Kennedy also was the founding director of the LSU in Paris summer program, the Master of Arts in the Humanities Program, and as chairman of the LSU Department of English.  During his summers in Paris, Kennedy taught classes on the so-called “lost generation,” which covered works by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein and other expatriates, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the places described by the authors in their novels and short stories.

For further information, contact Ashley Berthelot, LSU University Relations, 225-578-3870 (, or, Charles Zewe, LSU System Vice President for Communication, 225-578-3941 (