Thank You, Anita — On Sunday, April 15, 2018, approximately 130 of Anita Moss’s family members, friends, colleagues, and students gathered to celebrate Anita’s life. As the various speakers recalled their experiences with Anita, underlying themes soon became apparent. Speaker after speaker talked about Anita’s kindness, her helpfulness, and her words of encouragement. Anita clearly made a difference in the lives of so many people. I am one of the people whose life was changed for the better because she reached out to help me.
I first met Anita at a Children’s Literature Association conference in 1980. I was a graduate student at the time, and I was just learning the ways of academia. Anita talked to me after I presented my paper about American responses to fairy tales, and she encouraged me to develop my paper into an article. For the next several years, she and I kept running into each other at academic conferences, and she always took an interest in my various research projects.
A children’s literature position came open at UNC Charlotte in 1984, and Anita encouraged me to apply for the position. I followed her advice and sent in my application. However, the fact that my Ph.D. is in American Studies rather than in English caused some to question if I would be a good fit for the English Department. I later learned that Anita strongly advocated that I be invited to come for a campus interview. Anita’s efforts worked, and I came for my interview in March 1984. The interview went well, and I was offered the position at the end of the interview. I later learned that this quick offer was also the result of Anita’s efforts.
After I started my career in our English Department, Anita helped me develop my classes and mentored me as I pursued my scholarly career. At the time, she was the North American Editor for Children’s Literature in Education. I had just finished an article about Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and she encouraged me to submit it to Children’s Literature in Education. After a few rounds of revisions, Anita accepted the article for publication. The success I had with this article eventually led me to write an entire book on Roald Dahl. None of this would have happened without Anita’s help and encouragement.
Anita was a big believer in the importance of community engagement, and she helped me make connections with literacy advocates in the community. Early in my career, she introduced me to various people associated with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library, and this resulted in my longstanding collaborative relationship with the public library. To this very day, I work with the public library on festivals, talks, and various other activities. It all started with Anita.
As I look back on my 34-year career as a professor in our English Department, I am aware that Anita was always there for me at just the right moment with just the right words. Thank you, Anita.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Last week Bryn Chancellor presented at Central Piedmont Community College as part of Sensoria: A Celebration of Arts & Literature and its Levine Reads program, for which Sycamore was selected as its inaugural book. She also gave a talk at the Alabama Library Association’s annual conference in Florence, AL, where she received the 2017 Best Adult Fiction Award for Sycamore, and then gave a fiction reading at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. Additionally, she led a short-story workshop for the Charlotte Writers Club.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines — Here is information about upcoming events:
April 16 — Janaka Lewis and I will give presentations on Romare Bearden’s Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy on Monday, April 16, at 5:00 p.m. in the Halton Reading Room in the Atkins Library. Janaka’s presentation is titled “Children’s Narratives of Freedom: Romare Bearden’s Li’l Dan the Drummer Boy.” My presentation is titled “Romare Bearden’s Artistic Influences as Reflected in Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy.” For more information about this exhibit, please click on the following link: https://library.uncc.edu/Bearden
April 19 — The English Department and UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens are co-sponsoring an event called “Gardens and Verses: An Earth Day Celebration.” This event will take place on Thursday, April 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. The organizers of this event are Jen Munroe and Matt Rowney from the English Department and Jeff Gilman, the Director of the Botanical Gardens. This event will feature poetry readings, opportunities to write about nature, a scavenger hunt, and free pizza while it lasts. For more information about this event, please click on the following link: https://inside.uncc.edu/news-features/2018-04-02/earth-day-botanical-gardens
Quirky Quiz Question — Anita Moss’s Ph.D. dissertation is titled “Children and Fairy Tales: A Study of Nineteenth-Century British Fantasy,” which she wrote under the direction of Donald Gray. Do you know the name of the university where she earned her doctoral degree?