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Family-Placed Death Notice

GENOVESE, Eugene Eugene Dominick Genovese, preeminent scholar of slavery and the master class in the American South, died on the morning of September 26th, 2012, after a long illness. Born in 1930, he graduated from Brooklyn College (1953) and Columbia University (1955, 1959) and taught at Rutgers University; Sir George Williams University in Montreal, Canada; the University of Rochester; the College of William and Mary, and a coalition of Georgia universities - Emory, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and the University of Georgia. Ranking with the most influential historians of his generation, he also had appointments at Cambridge (as Pitt Professor), Princeton, Yale, and Columbia, was recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as president both of the Organization of American Historians and of The Historical Society, which he helped found. Genovese began his career as a Marxist and ended it as a Roman Catholic, having returned to the faith of his Sicilian American family. This spiritual and intellectual shift did not affect his, and his late wife's, continuing, collaborative study of slavery and the views of slave owners. Their last volumes, a trilogy - The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholdersí Worldview (2005), Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in the Southern Slaveholders' New World Order (2008), and Fatal Self-Deception: Slaveholding Paternalism in the Old South (2011) - published by Cambridge University Press, continued the analysis of Genovese's Bancroft Prize-winning study, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (1974). Undergirding Genovese's analysis of slavery in the United States was the concept of paternalism, which, for Genovese, centrally described a historically unique system of social relations, shaped by slaves as well as masters, in the slave society that was the Old South. From the masters' point of view, paternalism was not about kindness, but control, the need of the slaveholding class to translate power into authority. Slaves accommodated themselves to planter paternalism, but turned it to meet their own needs, to assert their humanity, to hold masters accountable, and to make gains toward the ultimate goal of release from bondage. The theoretical inspiration of Genovese's analysis came from Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci articulated the view that the ruling class, if effective, maintains its position through cultural hegemony - that is, by getting those they rule to accept their values even when resisting their sway. That essential insight informed Genovese's work throughout. "Aside from probing slaveholder ideology," Professor Peter Kolchin observes, Genovese "also was instrumental in shaping our understanding of slave life and consciousness, slave resistance, the economics of slavery, and comparative approaches to slavery." Pressured to leave Rutgers for his political views, he insisted on respecting the views of those with whom he sharply disagreed. This did not keep him from being a brilliant and engaging contro- versialist. On the other hand, as Professor Mark Smith remarks, "his kindness as a gentleman scholar .... was in many ways his signature as a man and as an historian." The funeral mass will be at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, October 2nd, at 10 a.m. The private burial will be later in New York. At that time, Professor Genovese will be interred beside his beloved Betsey - Elizabeth Fox- Genovese - his wife of a third of a century and noted scholar of southern women, who died in 2007. He is survived by a niece, Ann Marie Fasulo; two nephews, John Genovese and Robert Genovese; Robert's wife, Candi; two great nieces, Katherine Fasulo and Lily Genovese; sisters-in-law Josephine Genovese and Rebecca MacMillan Fox, and brother-in-law Edward W. Fox, Jr. Memorial gifts may be sent to St. Vincent de Paul Chapter, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 2855 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329. Online condolences may be made at

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Published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sep. 29, 2012.
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Memories & Condolences
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29 entries
October 19, 2012
It was my great honour to teach with Gene during his years at Sir George Williams University. I was a fresh PhD out of Wisconsin and Gene taught me about history, writing, teaching and the politics of academic life. He was a dear and loyal friend and, with Betsy, provided me with support throughout my academic career. Rest in peace, good and gentle friend. Charles L. Bertrand, Professor Emeritus of History, Concordia University, Montreal.
October 7, 2012
My prayers are with the family. I am thankful for Dr. Genovese's profound & courageous scholarship. I read "Roll, Jordan, Roll" in 1977 and have been arguing with it, thinking about it, & quoting its wisdom for the last 35 years. I too returned to the faith of my fathers & allowed this spiritual journey to enrich rather than impede my historical writing. So grateful for Dr. Genevese's example.
Daniel Woods
October 4, 2012
I knew Gene when he was at Rochester, and played regularly in his weekly poker game. His style of playing was certainly socialistic, for we drew money from ever pot and when the game was over split the money equally to compensate the evening's losers. It was egalitarianism, not poker. His departure from socialism took place after he left here, but I would be interested to hear how his later-life poker was organized. I enjoyed his stay at Rochester, and especially our quarrels at lunch time in the faculty club (which was not open to everyone, even at the height of Gene's influence.
Ralph Raimi
October 4, 2012
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. May the peace of God that excels all thought bring you comfort during this most difficult time. Phillipians 4:7
October 2, 2012
I'm sorry for your loss. Please allow God to be your refuge and your strength during this difficult time. (Psalms 91:2)
A. Smith
October 2, 2012
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
October 1, 2012
Robert Genovese
September 30, 2012
It is with great sorrow that I have learned of the passing of Professor Genovese. Gene was one of America's greatest historians. I shall never forget his example of scholarship
and his superb teaching at the University of Rochester where I was privileged to be one of his students. I shall always be grateful to him for leading me to the study of southern history, slavery, and religion. Gene was a remarkable mentor and teacher for me and so many others. May the angels lead him to paradise to be with Betsy, as well as to be with all those to whom his scholarship gave a voice. And may God continue to bless Gene's family at his difficult time.
Deacon Scott R. Reisinger
U of R Class of '80
Headmaster, Bancroft School
Deacon Scott Reisinger
September 30, 2012
So sorry for your loss. May the God of all comfort be with you and your family during your time of need.(2 Cor 1:3-5)
September 29, 2012
I was privileged to get to know Gene at the National Humanities Center in 1988-89 when we were both fellows. I respected his intellectual toughness and energy and his gracious kindness. Several years later I joined the faculty at Emory where I got to know Gene and Elizabeth as colleagues. Separately and together they displayed the best of the intellectual life: passion, skepticism, and an appreciation of how it was important to pay attention to points of view that initially may seem wrong-headed. Our understanding of the tangled path of race and gender in America has been enlarged by the hard and patient work each of them have done. I am thankful that our lives intersected along the way. Rest in peace, Gene. We will not forget all you have given us.

Paul Courtright, Department of Religion
Emory University
September 29, 2012
An exemplary teacher, scholar, and colleague, Gene was the very embodiment of the idea of the university. he inspired us all and held us to high standards.

We'll miss him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Joseph M. Knippenberg, Brookhaven, GA.
Joseph Knippenberg
September 29, 2012
May you find strength and comfort from God and peace through the love of your friends and family. James 4:8
September 29, 2012
Please accept my sincere condolonces at this time. May the peace promised in God's Word (John 14:27) sustain you all and help you endure. Trust in Him and He will provide whatever you may need.
Renee - Atlanta, GA
September 29, 2012
I'm truly sorry for your loss. May God comfort you and your family during this time.
Matthew 11:28-30
S. Whiting
September 29, 2012
I am truly sorry for you loss. May you find comfort in the love of your family and friends Is 65:17.
September 29, 2012
Gene Genovese was an outstanding historian who influenced all of us. I will always remember his rigorous scholarship and standards as well as his kindness when my husband and I visited Gene and Betsey at their home. What a remarkable couple! My condolences to the Genovese and Fox families.
Ann Chirhart
September 29, 2012
With deepest sympathy to the Genovese family during your time of grief...Psalm 46:1...God is for us a refuge and strength, A help that is readily to be found during difficult times...May God provide you with peace and comfort to endure the days ahead.
September 29, 2012
What a beautiful and enduring love Betsey and Gene shared on earth. May it continue in heaven -- and may the angels lead him into paradise.
Lorraine and Jef Murray
September 29, 2012
Truly a man of knowledge. A man that would change the World and make it equal for all. That's a Godly quality!Ecclesiastes 7:1-2
September 29, 2012
I give my deepest condolences
Brittany (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)
September 28, 2012
Gene and Betsey are, I very much hope, dining out tonight. Gene was an extraordinary friend, a true gentleman, a great historian. My condolences to the two families Betsey and Gene united, and to all of us who miss both of them.
Deborah Symonds
September 28, 2012
May the God of all comfort be with all those mourning.
Terri A.
September 28, 2012
With My Sympathy especially in times like theses, faith can provide such strenth TRUST IN Jehovah God. His love is there to protect and guide you. And lean on me....I'm here for you to try and give you all the support you need, To pray for you, and to remind you how much Jehovah God loves you.
Geneva Mcclendon
September 27, 2012
May the love of those around you help you through the days ahead. Hold tight to cherished memories. Lean on friends for support. And cling to God's word, the Bible, for strength and comfort.
September 27, 2012
To the Genovese family, God can refresh your soul and comfort you through this difficult time. Psalm 23. I offer the Genovese family my condolences.
September 27, 2012
Our hearts are heavy, but we know that Gene is now, once again, reunited with his beloved Betsey. Gene, you will always be in our hearts and in our history. A truer gentleman I never knew.
Michelle Zupan
September 27, 2012
My Condolences to the Genovese family, God is a refuge for us during distresses, a helper and strength. Psalms 46:1
Tina King Atlanta, Ga.
September 26, 2012
Robert and I are grieving the loss of a dear friend whose company we have missed very much since leaving the Atlanta area - but his friendship still meant a great deal to us and we are sad that we will neve discuss and argue again as we did in the 90's. Those were good years and wil always be associated with the excitement, the brilliance, and the kindness of this wonderful, gifted man and his beautiful, sweet wife Elizabeth. We were lucky and blessed to know them. May this good and faithful servant of the Lord, enjoy a blessed rest with his beloved Betsy.
Christina Jeffrey
September 26, 2012
Gene was a very great historian, probably the best of his generation, and I was extremely lucky to have him as my mentor at the University of Rochester in the 1970s. I'm very sorry to hear of his passing.
Maurice Isserman
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