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Fond Memories of Amy Williamsen (1959-2019).

THE OUTPOURING OF BOTH consternation and solidarity following Amy's sudden passing on April 22nd is unprecedented in our field in my experience, but it is completely justified and understandable. Amy was sui generis, truly one of a kind. I have never heard a disparaging word about her--or from her! The aura of warmth and caring that surrounded her endeared her to one and all. Her acts of kindness were random but also continuous and constant, the dominant aspect of her effervescent charm. Two members of her mid-1980s cohort at USC called me, separately, to inform me of her passing, and amazed me by their effusiveness and the depth and sincerity of their grief. Bear in mind that they had not seen her since she and they were in seminars together. One recited a veritable litany of what he admired about Amy and how he felt he was a better person for having known her. It was like listening to confession, a sharing of otherwise guarded secrets.

It was my privilege to supervise Amy's doctoral studies at USC and to direct her dissertation to completion in 1985. The title was "Comic Subversion: A Study of Humor and Irony in the Persiles." Amy was 23 at the time. But she had arrived remarkably well prepared, having acquired Spanish in Spain as a child, a BA at Missouri and an MA at Toronto en route. It was a pleasure later to recommend the publication of a revised version of that dissertation to Tom Lathrop for Juan de la Cuesta, where it appeared in 1994. A look today at my copy of Co(s)mic Chaos--with a cherished letter of thanks tucked inside--was reassuring. It's good, solid scholarship. Stepping down after 20 years on Lathrop's editorial board, it was gratifying to know that Amy would be moving into that position.

Now it is rare indeed that one would oversee the doctoral work of the daughter of a peer in the same field. Vern Williamsen and I knew each other well, however, through comedia studies. In that context, Vern and I were invited to El Paso one day long ago to brainstorm with Everett Hesse, UTEP faculty, and a representative of the National Park Service, and conceptualize an academic component for the Chamizal festivities, thus, in hindsight, laying the groundwork for the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater. Vern offered a number of helpful suggestions that day. So, you see, Amy's devotion to AH CT came with her DNA. Also, the old adage about the apple not falling far from the tree is confirmed: Vern and Clara were wonderful role models.

As a graduate student, Amy was respectfully challenging. She asked one day in a seminar whether my supernarrator (the editorial voice of Don Quijote) might not imply a supernarratee. I had pondered that issue, but had set it aside. The seminar group discussed the matter, and the result, somewhat later, was "The Quest for a Superreader and a Supernarratee" which appeared through Ciberletras. I would like to dedicate that piece retroactively, herewith, to Amy. My advice to dissertation advisees was always to find their own path, not to follow me. After some hesitation at the outset (see dissertation title), Amy found her own niche, one that allowed her to explore several highly productive paths. I'm very proud of her.

Amy's first full-time teaching position was at Occidental College, very near where Patricia and I live, and a tranquil place to launch an academic career, as it must also have been for a young man named Barack Obama for his studies there in 1979-81. We saw Amy frequently, both socially and at professional meetings, during those halcyon days. At one Sunday soiree she had a long, animated chat with the venerable Luis Murillo. I recall mutual laughter. They seemed to bond in about ten minutes. After Amy moved to the University of Arizona, she invited me on two occasions to lecture, and I reciprocated later on by sending her a promising doctoral student.

What I remember most fondly about Amy is her effervescent charm, a manifestation of her unstinting commitment to altruism. 1 would cite two personal instances: 1) Amy generously offered to help edit my After Its Kind: Approaches to the Comedia in 1991 for Edition Reichenberger; and 2) she was a prime mover in organizing a homage volume in 2006. Titled Critical Reflections, it is complemented by an engraved crystal cube that reflects light onto the book in varying colors from different angles). She presented the crystal cube to me at MLA a year before the book itself was ready. It's the sort of attention to detail, caring, and thoughtfulness that characterized Amy. She had also co-edited a homage volume for Geoffrey Stagg, her mentor at Toronto. Amy is one of the two or three most giving and caring persons I encountered in academe during a 52-year career.

Pasadena, California 15 May 2019

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE

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Author:Parr, James A.
Publication:Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
Article Type:Obituario
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Words:826
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