Dan Stout, renaissance man

By David W. Scott

I want to talk about Dan Stout, my friend and colleague. When we celebrate his accomplishments at AEJMC this year, I’ll add more thoughts on his outstanding contributions to the study of media and religion. They are many.

I met Dan Stout when I began my MA degree in 1993. When we met, I assumed he was like every other professor, but after a brief conversation in his office, my opinion shifted considerably. I discovered that Dan is a true intellectual — not the kind who sits in an ivory tower and shouts knowledge at the students or who relies on posturing and self-aggrandizing behavior to garner respect. Instead, Dan invites all into his world. Nobody is an outsider.

Dan exudes pathos to all he speaks with, whether it’s a freshman studying advertising, a renowned intellectual at a conference, or a heavily tattooed pizza cook at a dive in Boston. His ability to connect and make those around him feel important inspires them to share their own ideas and rethink their world views and learn in the process. That he does this with such humility is a manifestation of his great character.

This level of humility is astounding given his intellectual abilities.Dan can read a 500-page tome in a few days and afterward distill its contents as if it were a 20-page graphic novel. It doesn’t matter if the book covers technological determinism, social constructionism, or the Grateful Dead. Dan will read it, deconstruct it, and enjoy it.

Dan’s love of the “life of the mind” is contagious. (Is that OK to say in the current climate of Covid-19?) So much so, that within a semester of studying with him, I was convinced to jettison my plans to go to law school and instead seek a Ph.D. He continues to inspire me and many others.

He is a true renaissance man.

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