Information from Memorial Service Program

Remembering Dr. David Lavery Forums Memories of Dr. Lavery Information from Memorial Service Program

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    David Lee Lavery, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, author, Middle Tennessee State University English professor and television and film studies scholar, passed away after a brief illness on August 30, 2016. He was 67. David helped shaped the world of popular culture studies and has been invited around the globe to present his work.

    David, born in Oil City, PA, settled in Murfreesboro with his family in 1994. He served as chair of the MTSU English department, and later as graduate director. He is celebrated for his literary explorations of shows such as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Lost, Seinfeld, The Sopranos, and Twin Peaks, among many others, and is renowned for his studies on Joss Whedon and Owen Barfield.

    He has written more than 20 books on popular culture phenomena. David’s expertise extended beyond film and television studies: his book Late for the Sky focused on the cultural exploration of science. He had many other unfinished works, including a novel and his autobiography.

    David was a well-loved professor, whose classes ranged from narrative theory to modern poetry to popular culture. He was well-known for his numerous PowerPoint presentations that he neatly stored online for any student to reference. He enjoyed reading poetry aloud in class, particularly that of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, and more than one group of students reports tearing up as he read Williams’s poetry and explained what it meant to him.

    Lavery is known for his extreme dislike of Rene Descartes and abhorrence of Derrida.

    Students (and his daughters) report that they frequently visited him seeking an answer to a quick question, and more often than not, they walked away over an hour later, laden down with texts (both loaned and given) and were somehow signed up for another large project.

    He leaves behind his beloved wife of 36 years, Joyce Lavery, daughter Rachel Lavery and son-in-law Neel Dhingra, daughter Sarah Porterfield and son-in-law Jason Porterfield, and grandchildren Adelyn, Waylon, and Jackson Porterfield and Maya Dhingra. They were the lights of his life.

    For a Dancer
    Jackson Browne

    Keep a fire burning in your eye
    Pay attention to the open sky
    You never know what will be coming down
    I don’t remember losing track of you
    You were always dancing in and out of view
    I must have thought you’d always be around

    Always keeping things real by playing the clown
    Now you’re nowhere to be found

    I don’t know what happens when people die
    Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try
    It’s like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
    That I can’t sing, I can’t help listening
    And I can’t help feeling stupid standing ‘round
    Crying as they ease you down
    ‘Cause I know that you’d rather we were dancing

    Dancing our sorrow away
    (Right on dancing)
    No matter what fate chooses to play
    (There’s nothing you can do about it anyway)

    Just do the steps that you’ve been shown
    By everyone you’ve ever known
    Until the dance becomes your very own
    No matter how close to yours another’s steps have grown
    In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone

    Keep a fire for the human race
    Let your prayers go drifting into space
    You never know what will be coming down
    Perhaps a better world is drawing near
    And just as easily it could all disappear
    Along with whatever meaning you might have found

    Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
    (The world keeps turning around and around)
    Go on and make a joyful sound

    Into a dancer you have grown from a seed somebody else has thrown
    Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
    And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go
    May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know

    I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
    The Stillness in the Room
    Was like the Stillness in the Air –
    Between the Heaves of Storm –
    The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
    And Breaths were gathering firm
    For that last Onset – when the King
    Be witnessed – in the Room –
    I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
    What portion of me be
    Assignable – and then it was
    There interposed a Fly –
    With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
    Between the light – and me –
    And then the Windows failed – and then
    I could not see to see –
    – emily dickenson

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