Update from Alumni: Joseph A. Amato PhD ’70



Since leaving Rochester in 1966, a half century ago, and completing my published dissertation on Mounier and Maritain: A French Catholic Understanding of the Modern World in 1970 under the insightful and generous guidance of Professor A. W. Salomone,  Amato has had a single teaching and minor administrative career principally at one place—at Southwest Minnesota State University, in Marshall, Minnesota.  There he taught, administered, and created the History Department and a unique program of Rural and Regional Studies.

Aside from the glories and scuffles of making and keeping a small college afloat, his devotion has been his wife Catherine, a nursing graduate from Rochester (1966) and four children, while my mounting “madness”  is  writing—defining the meaning of world and self.  Amato has written, co-authored, and published almost forty books, numerous essays (most recently for Everyday Life (2016), Why Place Matters (2015) and Suffering and Bioethics (2015).  During this time, his writing has ranged, perhaps strayed, across three areas—local, family, and regional history; memoirs focused on a reflective boy in love with a future in golf and mid-life bypass surgery; and finally and principally intellectual and cultural history bannered first by studies of “Guilt and Gratitude” and Suffering” and advancing a comprehensive social cultural history of walking and a cultural intellectual history of the small.  The later, Dust, A History of the Small and Invisible, was translated into several languages.

In the last two years Amato wrote another work in cultural and intellect history, Surfaces: A History and a work of philosophy and intellectual history called Twos: The Power of Contrasts, Polarities, and Contradictions.  At the same he published his first volume of poetry, Buoyancies: A Ballast Master’s Log.

With children long on their own and retirement providing free time, he may take up new volumes of poetry and non-fiction.  March 1 of this year will see the publication of My Three Sicilies: Stories, Poems, and History (New York Bordighera); October 1, Everyday Life: A Short History (London Reaktion Press) which was intended to form a companion to my explorations of family history (Jacob’s Well) and local and regional history, Rethinking Home.

To bring a half century of writing and self-promotion to an end, Amato wishes the best to all who shared a cup of coffee and an idea, held a hand, and suffered and enjoyed a seminar together.  Gratefully and affectionately from across a half of century he wishes you well in your ways and days This after all is no great span for we historians known for long memory and stirring the incandescent embers of youth.



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