Robert Kellogg, former chair of the UVA English Department, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and first principal of Monroe Hill Residential College (later Brown College) died on January 3, 2004. I didn’t learn about it until today, thanks to the Alumni Magazine.
To me, he will always be the teacher who inspired in me a passion for the English language, its history, vocabulary, and usage.I took a course in the History of the English Language my third year from Professor Kellogg. The course, which covered semiotics, phonetics, basic linguistic theory, Old, Middle, and Modern English, resulted in my first paper on the Internet when I wrote about some of the words and expressions I observed people using in Usenet and IRC. (Portions of the essay, including Professor Kellogg’s introduction to its publication in a UVA undergrad journal and the glossary, by far the most useful portions of the text, are somewhat foolishly reproduced on this site.) I went on to take two semesters of Old English, including reading Beowulf in the original, and to become a passionate student of the language (though my impoverished writing on this blog may not always reflect that).
In 1999, at my five year reunion, I tried to see Professor Kellogg, to tell him how grateful I was to have had him as a professor. I didn’t realize that he had retired already by then, though he might have been teaching in his beloved Iceland. I never got in contact with him again, so I will have to settle for thanking him here.