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Constructing a Father’s Memory: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys
MRIC 2015/16

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Constructing a Father’s Memory: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys

Joy Passanante

Department of English (Emerita)

Sponsored by the Office of the President and Executive Vice President and the University Honors Program


This presentation will discuss the pleasures, challenges and surprises of writing “Through A Long Absence,” a literary memoir about Joy Passanante’s father, who died of Alzheimer’s disease four years before she began to write about him. Researched through his letters, diaries, taped interviews, paintings, music and the writer’s own memory and imagination — as well as investigations in six European countries, following his wartime footsteps with her husband, Gary Williams — the book tells the story of Bart Passanante, a first-generation American serving in the Army as a doctor overseas during World War II. In addition to describing her process in uncovering and constructing her father’s story, Passanante will read passages from her manuscript.


Joy Passanante worked for the University of Idaho until her retirement in 2014, as a teacher of more than 20 different courses as well as an editor, communications consultant and trainer, and writer. For 12 years, she served as the university’s associate director of Creative Writing. She has published three books in addition to poems, essays and stories in various literary journals.

Both her collection of stories, “The Art of Absence,” and her novel, “My Mother’s Lovers,” were finalists for several national awards. Her essays have received awards from the prominent literary journal Shenandoah and from the Magazine Association of the Southeast.

She has garnered Idaho Commission on the Arts Fellowships for poetry and fiction and an Idaho Humanities Fellowship for nonfiction. She recently completed her first book of literary nonfiction.

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