Alice Hughes Kersnowski
Alice Hughes Kersnowski, Ph.D., passed away on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.
She was a member of the faculty of the English Literature and Language Department in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, at St Mary’s University for thirty-four years, 1988-2022. A well-respected national and international scholar, she was the author of multiple books and peer-reviewed articles She made presentations at conferences, symposia, and colloquia in eleven countries, including Ireland, Spain, Finland, and Russia.
Dr K., as she was called by her students, held an MA and Ph.D. from University College Dublin (UCD), National University of Ireland, as well as a BA from Northwestern University. She served as a research fellow, symposium director and mentor at the Humanities Institute of Ireland, as well as a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, St Edmunds College, in the UK. She was the founder, mentor, and contributor to Ellipsis … A Journal for Undergraduate Research in the Humanities, as well as the founder of and mentor in Senior Mentors: Matching Senior Scholars and Emeritus Scholars with Undergraduate Researchers. Her publications included Conversations with Edna O’Brien and Conversations with Henry Miller, both from the University of Mississippi Press, as well as articles such as ‘If it isn’t this, What is it? Decommissioning and Trickster Tales in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, 1998-2003’ in the Trickster & Peace, special issues of Trickster’s Way: Journal of Semiotics. Dr. K was a member of the editorial board of The Robert Graves Review, published by the Robert Graves Society.
Dr K. was pivotal in raising awareness about and creating a presence for Research in English and Cultural Studies on campus at St Mary’s University where she was awarded the inaugural Senior Faculty Mentor Award for her work with more than 125 undergraduate and graduate students. She regularly mentored students in the McNair Scholars program and assisted many others in discovering the possibilities of graduate education in the United States and in Ireland. A dedicated archival researcher, Dr K. took students annually to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin, to explore one of the world’s richest archives in person and provided international archival opportunities for students to travel to and work with Trinity College Dublin’s archives as well as UCD’s. For her own research, Alice explored the archives of James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, and the Hunger Strike-era Prisoner’s Library at Her Majesty’s Prison Maze / Long Kesh Detention Center in Northern Ireland.
Dr K developed and taught over twenty-five different courses, including Irish literature, modernism, author and work: Joyce and O’Brien, women authors, research in English and cultural studies, writing assessment, senior English capstone, and world literature. Her areas of specialization included Irish literature, libraries and archives, modernism, and Edna O’Brien. She was dedicated to questions of peace at home and abroad as evidenced in her classes, as she highlighted the Marianist characteristics of educating for service justice and peace, as well as her work for the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) through the United Nations University and the University of Ulster, Derry / Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Colleagues and students will miss her Friday salon-style afternoons, which she called ‘Open Door Fridays’, in the department where conversations with students, faculty, and passersby ranged in topic, as questions were posed and contemplated. We will miss her impromptu tea parties. We will miss the ceilidh she threw each time she taught Irish literature. We will miss the way she always saw things we didn’t see and attempted to explain them to us as they appeared in her mind! We will miss the camaraderie, fun, and Alice’s real sense that reading literature mattered in the world.
Alice Kersnowski is survived by her husband of thirty-four years, Frank, her son Thomas, her stepdaughter Maud, and her granddaughters Amelia and Lydia.
Memorial gifts can be made payable in memory of Dr. K and mailed to: St Mary’s University, Advancement Services, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, TX 78228-8544.