Michael Armstrong Remembered

Remembering Michael Armstrong

If you are one of the more than 4,000 students who attended Bread Loaf between 1986 and 2015, chances are you have heard of the late Michael Armstrong. His courses on the pedagogies of imagination, narrative, Calvino, and storytelling were transformative, his delighted engagement with the community all encompassing, his philosophies of education powerfully influential. And if you are one of the nearly 600 students who were fortunate enough to take a class with Michael, you experienced firsthand the might of his genius, imagination, interest in the work and minds of his students, and ability to inspire.

When faculty, students, staff, and other friends gathered together at the Vermont campus last summer to celebrate Michael’s life and work, they emphasized the reaches of his imagination and exuberance. Bread Loaf faculty member David Huddle composed a roman-à-clef short story for the occasion: “The Professor of Levitation.” Wherever the protagonist went, writes Huddle, “people felt peculiarly uplifted, an upgrade of dignification. They had been ‘betterized.’ ‘How did that happen?’ they’d ask themselves.”

We might never find the answer to just how Michael lifted us up to our best selves. But we’ve gathered here some of the memorable voices from that evening in the spirit of collective celebration and gratitude for the buoyancy Michael Armstrong offered us. 

Invisible Cities of Strength
By Laura Benton, current student and Kentucky Bread Loaf Teacher Network Fellow

Michael Closely Observed
By Julie Bernson, Deputy Director of Learning and Engagement, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, in Lincoln, Massachusetts

Michael the Teacher
By Michele Stepto, Bread Loaf faculty

Calvino and Beyond
by Sarah Getchell MA ’14 

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In Memory of Michael Armstrong
By Gwyneth Lewis, Bread Loaf faculty