Samuel Moon, Professor Emeritus of English, 1922-2011

September 19, 2011

Samuel MoonSamuel Moon, William G. Simonds Professor Emeritus of English at Knox College, died on Saturday, September 10, 2011, at his home in Cortland, New York. He was 89.

A graveside service will be held at a later date in Exeter, Ontario, Canada where his ashes will be buried next to his late wife, Doris. Moon's son, Peter S. Moon, is a 1976 Knox graduate.

A member of the Knox faculty from 1953 to 1984, Moon earned bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

Moon was chair of the English Department at Knox and in the 1960s was instrumental in establishing the College's highly regarded creative writing program.

"Sam was very staid, very modest, but he was a pioneer in the teaching of creative writing, and he had a significant impact on Knox," said Robin Metz, Philip Sidney Post Post Professor of English and Moon's long-time colleague.

Samuel MoonMoon also published many of his own poems in such prestigious journals as Poetry and Atlantic Monthly. He was also a noted literary critic whose non-fiction publications included the anthology "One Act: Eleven Short Plays of the Modern Theatre," and "Tall Sheep," an oral history of Harry Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley, Utah, which served as the location for a number of Western films.

Early in his Knox career, Moon also wrote "A Knox College Manual of Style" for use in the English department. According to Moon, "style" is larger than spelling, grammar, punctuation and footnotes. In a 1962 campus lecture, Moon described style as "an unending process" aimed at achieving wisdom.

Style is a ubiquitous fact of life. No man escapes working in one medium or another. No man avoids forming attitudes and values. No man is without some kind of style. No man lacks a mask -- a public face -- worthy or unworthy of his possibilities. We must discriminate in these matters. We must ask ourselves what we can do, where we can go with the styles we have...

While it would be disastrous for us to embrace our culture wholly and uncritically, it would be equally disastrous for us to cut ourselves adrift from it...

In that unending process which is style, the ultimate goal, attained only rarely, by men of the greatest genius but the goal toward which we all may struggle, is the style of wisdom.

-- Samuel Moon, Mortar Board Convocation, Knox College, March 1962