Also today, my friend and colleague, Dr. Karen Cajka, Associate Professor of English and Director of Women’s Studies at ETSU, passed away from complications stemming from pulmonary embolism. She was forty-five years old. I need to take a moment as I write to wrestle with the fact that I am writing of her in the past tense; I’m going to do it deliberately in this paragraph, despite how ridiculous it feels, in an effort to clear some of the fog that blew into my head when I got the phone call this morning. We are all quite rattled. We can’t get it to make any sense at all for any of us. She was an advocate for women’s studies, a champion for social recognition of women’s literature and the ways it has impacted and continues to impact women’s lives and broader social understandings of them. She had a keen mind and sharp wit, often flavored with a sweet dose of sarcasm and blended deliciously with wry humor. Her students were and are true devotees whose lives were changed and paradigms were shifted and visions were sharpened. Her physical presence is gone from us but her mind and her passion for women’s writing and perspectives in the lives of her students and colleagues.
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