Me and Mecosta: Studying With Russell Kirk

Letter From Michigan

Russell Kirk played a prominent role in founding and promoting modern conservatism in America—not neoconservatism, but the more traditional variety which emphasizes culture and tradition more than political programs and economics. He is known as the author of The Conservative Mind, The Roots of American Order, The Age of Eliot, and other "conservative" studies and as the founding editor of Modern Age and the University Bookman. I knew him in this capacity, too. But I also knew him personally for over 15 years, having been one among the ranks of students and assistants who worked and studied under him at Piety Hill, his ancestral home in Mecosta, Michigan. It was my good fortune to study with him for two years back in the early 1980's and to continue a personal association with him until his death in 1994. With countless others, I remember Dr. Kirk for his literary achievement, but I also remember and honor him for the remarkable place he and his wife Annette created for hundreds of students, assistants, and visitors.

I first met Dr. Kirk in the late 1970's at Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) summer schools held at Rosemont College, Pennsylvania, and Georgetown University. At one of these events, Dr. Kirk lectured on "Education in an Egalitarian Society," mentioning that there were still a few good universities for graduate study in the humanities....

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