Remembering Amy Kass

Remembering Amy Kass

Amy A. Kass (1940–2015) was born on Constitution Day, a fitting coincidence given the life she would lead. At the University of Chicago, where she taught for 34 years, she co-founded a yearlong common core seminar devoted to human and civic excellence with her husband and colleague, Leon R. Kass: “Human Being and Citizen.” One of her last projects was an anthology, assisted by Leon and their friend Diana Schaub, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech and Song (2011). In this work, Amy brought together her love of country and love of literature. Alongside our founding documents and the speeches of great statesmen, Amy compiled a treasure trove of short stories, classic and contemporary, to invite reflection on American identity and character.

With the aim of bringing this “literary approach to making citizens” to a broader audience of educators—from teachers to homeschoolers—Amy and her co-editors soon embarked on a digital learning venture, whatsoproudlywehail.org, complete with discussion guides, primary source texts, and model conversations. I had the privilege to assist them in their work, and we are delighted to now share our labor of love with its new host, the Great Hearts Institute.

A speech Amy delivered to the Washington, DC chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2011 is excerpted in the upcoming issue of VIRTUE. In it, she provides an overview of the structure and aims of the anthology and its sister website before turning to a discussion of Edward Everett Hale’s 1863 short story, “The Man Without a Country,” and demonstrating the power of story to produce better citizens and better patriots.

“The Man Without a Country” is the first short story discussed in ten-part “The Meaning of America” curriculum. You can view a model conversation between the WSPWH editors and historian Wilfred McClay here.

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