Gerald Kennedy is Boyd Professor of English at Louisiana State University and a former chair of the Department of English. He also served as president of the international Poe Studies Association and as vice-president of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and Society. Most of his work as a scholar has focused either on early nineteenth-century American literature and culture or on the expatriate modernists who converged on Paris in the early twentieth century. Kennedy’s academic honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2001-2002 and an NEH Senior Fellowship in 2003. He has twice been a Taylor Fellow at the University of Virginia, and in 2017 he was a writing residency fellow at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy.
His books on Poe include Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing (Yale, 1987), “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” and the Abyss of Interpretation (Twayne, 1994), a new edition of the Portable Edgar Allan Poe (Penguin, 2006), and three edited or co-edited collections of essays: The Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe (Oxford, 2001); Romancing the Shadow: Poe and Race (Oxford, 2001), co-edited with Liliane Weissberg; and Poe and the Remapping of Antebellum Print Culture (LSU Press, 2012), co-edited with Jerome McGann. With Scott Peeples, he has co-edited the new Oxford Handbook of Edgar Allan Poe, an 850-page research volume that features the work of 45 top scholars. Kennedy’s books on antebellum U.S. literary culture include, as Vol. 5 of the Oxford History of the Novel in English, The American Novel to 1870 (Oxford, 2014), co-edited with Leland S. Person. Kennedy’s career-capping study, Strange Nation: Literary Nationalism and Cultural Conflict in the Age of Poe(Oxford, 2016) won the Patrick F. Quinn Award from the Poe Studies Association.
A Fulbright Junior Lectureship in 1978-79 led to Kennedy’s preoccupation with American expatriate writing and modernist Paris. After establishing the LSU in Paris summer study program in 1981, he began writing Imagining Paris: Exile, Writing, and American Identity (Yale, 1993). As site director of the Hemingway-Fitzgerald International Conference in Paris in 1994, he subsequently co-edited (with Jackson R. Bryer) French Connections: Hemingway and Fitzgerald Abroad (St. Martin’s, 1998). His years on the Hemingway board led to involvement in another major project, the Cambridge Letters of Ernest Hemingway, under the general editorship of Sandra Spanier. Kennedy served as advisory editor for volumes 1-3 and wrote the introduction for Vol. 2 (1923-25) on Hemingway’s apprenticeship in Paris. He has been appointed, with Michael Von Cannon, to edit the final volume of letters, 1957-61, with Valerie Hemingway (Ernest’s onetime secretary) serving as Advisory Editor.
Kennedy has also published on the contemporary American short story and edited Modern American Short Story Sequences: Composite Fictions and Fictive Communities (Cambridge, 1995). He also produced a popular paperback edition of the Life of Black Hawk (Penguin, 2008). His current work-in-progress will distill forty years of teaching Poe into a trade book for general readers that explains the author’s ballooning popularity and visibility in the 21stcentury. It traces the onset of a culture of fear fostered by the rise of electronic media, new technologies of mass destruction, and the advent of terrorism.