James E. Person Jr.

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James E. Person Jr. is a writer, editor, and lecturer who has been involved with the activities of the Kirk Center since its founding in 1995. He was named a Senior Fellow in 2011.

A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Denver Publishing Institute, Mr. Person has worked in publishing for over thirty years. He has edited and written for many literary, historical, and biographical reference works, including Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Contemporary Authors, Short Story Criticism, Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, What Do I Read Next? and many other titles, including American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Mr. Person is also a freelance writer who has published over 200 essays, articles, and book reviews in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Modern Age, the Detroit News, National Review, the Washington Times, the University Bookman, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, Crisis, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, the Raleigh News & Observer, and other venues. He contributes a column to the University Bookman titled “The Classics Revisited.”

Mr. Person was a friend of Russell Kirk and has written and spoken extensively on his life and work. His lectures, delivered at the Kirk Center, Young America’s Foundation’s Reagan Ranch Center, and elsewhere, include such topics as “Russell Kirk’s The American Cause, Then and Now,” “‘To Renew and Rebuild Civilization’: An Introduction to T. S. Eliot and His Significance,” “A Cook’s Tour of The Conservative Mind,” “‘For Such a Time as This’: Russell Kirk and the Uses of History,” and “‘The Ancient and Honorable Pastime of Snapdragon’: An Introduction to the Fiction of Russell Kirk.”

Mr. Person produced the first two books on the distinguished man of letters: The Unbought Grace of Life: Essays in Honor of Russell Kirk (1994) and Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind (1999). At present, he is researching, compiling, and editing “The Selected Letters of Russell Kirk.” In addition, the final stages of editorial work are being completed on a compendium titled “The Quotable Kirk.”

A native of Virginia, Mr. Person is a specialist on the literature and history of the American South, and is honored to be a friend and biographer of the Virginian writer Earl Hamner, author of Spencer’s Mountain and The Homecoming, as well as the creator of the beloved long-running television series The Waltons. (Mr. Person’s well-received biography Earl Hamner: From Walton’s Mountain to Tomorrow appeared in 2005.)

He lives in Northville, Michigan, with his wife Lista. They have two grown children, David and Rebekah.

A culture is perennially in need of renewal. A culture does not survive and prosper merely by being taken for granted; active defense is always required, and imaginative growth, too.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Seminars This Spring

For a long weekend in March, Hillsdale College Honors Students gathered at the Kirk Center to explore the theme “Man as Maker in Moral Perspective.” Professor of Classics Eric Hutchinson guided the students on the complex topics of transhumanism and cloning, followed by readings from Ray Bradbury’s science fiction stories. Although the March winds deterred students from an afternoon walk, they rounded out the weekend with piano-playing and singing at the Kirk house.

Hillsdale Seminar March 2018

On April 26–29, the Kirk Center welcomes this year’s recipients of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s prestigious Richard M. Weaver Fellowships for a seminar about Plato’s writings on education, sponsored by The Liberty Fund of Indianapolis. Since 1964, the Weaver Fellowship Program has identified and supported graduate students committed to freedom-oriented teaching at the college level. This year, fifteen students from across the country were selected as Weaver Fellows. Dr. David Corey, professor of Political Science at Baylor University, and Dr. Richard Gamble, professor of history at Hillsdale College, will lead the discussions.

Apr 2018

Buckley Biographer Visits Kirk Library

The Kirk Center was pleased to host a research visit for prize-winning historian and former New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus. Mr. Tanenhaus is the official biographer of William F. Buckley Jr. He made a trip from Connecticut to Mecosta to read the correspondence between Buckley and Kirk while enjoying the pleasant setting of the Kirk Library. Russell Kirk had a four-decades long friendship with Buckley, both admiring the other’s professionalism and contributions to the revival of the conservative tradition in America.

Jeff Nelson, Sam Tanenhaus, Annette Kirk

Apr 2018

Attention attorneys, judges, law students, and interested professionals: Registration just opened!

The Society for Law and Culture will gather to discuss “Moral Imagination and the Law” on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the Kirk Center. We are pleased to announce the following distinguished speakers: the Hon. Caleb Stegall, Justice, Kansas Supreme Court; the Hon. Stephen Murphy, Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; Clare Neuchterlein, Distinguished Practitioner Emerita of Law, Valparaiso University; and Allen Mendenhall, Associate Dean and Director, Blackstone and Burke Center for Law and Liberty, Faulkner University.

Society for Law and Culture, 2016 gathering

Formed by Maxwell Goss, a practicing attorney and former Kirk Fellow, the Society for Law and Culture is an organization for lawyers, judges, professionals, and academics that aims to strengthen the ties between law and culture and promote a renewed sense of the law as a vocation and humane profession. For more information and to register please see the event site.

Apr 2018