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English professor, 76, dies

English professor emerita Kenny Jackson Williams died Dec. 19 after a long fight with cancer. She was 76 years old.

  "She was an accomplished colleague and a loyal friend, and her passing leaves a big void in our midst," said English professor Victor Strandberg.

  Williams, who arrived at the University in 1976, was a scholar of Midwestern and African-American literature. She served on the National Humanities Council in the early 1990s and was a founding member of Duke's chapter of the National Association of Scholars. She received the MidAmerica Award in 1986 for her contributions to the study of Midwestern literature.

  "Kenny was one of the most welcoming of my new colleagues in the English department at Duke when I arrived four years ago," said Maureen Quilligan, professor and chair of the English Department. "I remember her small gifts and attentions with gratitude. I took it as Southern hospitality but I realize now it was also her greatness of heart."

  Her published works include They Also Spoke: An Essay on Negro Literature in America, 1787-1930, In the City of Men: Another Story of Chicago, Prairie Voices: A Literary History of Chicago from the Frontier to 13 and A Storyteller for a City: Sherwood Anderson's Chicago.

  A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 11 a.m. at the Community Baptist Church of Durham.

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