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Conference April 6-7 honors the late George Gibian for his contributions to the fields of Russian literature and comparative literature

George Gibian, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Russian Literature and Comparative Literature, was still an active member of the Cornell University faculty when he died at home in October 1999. In April, former students and colleagues will honor Gibian's memory with a conference titled "Cosmopolitan Crossings: Contacts and Connections Across Cultures and Disciplines," sponsored by the departments of Russian Literature and Comparative Literature at Cornell.

Events will be held April 6-7, beginning at 2 p.m. Friday, April 6, in the A.D. White House and continue there Saturday, April 7, at 10 a.m., before shifting to the Carl A. Kroch Library at 1:30 p.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m. with a concert in Lincoln Hall. All events are free and open to the public.

Gibian joined the Department of Russian Literature at Cornell in 1961. He was chair of the department from 1963 to 1973, acting chair from 1978 to 1982 and chair of the Committee on Soviet Studies from 1966 to 1969 and again from 1981 to 1982. Gibian wrote several books, including: Tolstoy and Shakespeare (1957); The Interval of Freedom: Soviet Literature During the Thaw , 1954 to 1957 (1960); and Russia's Lost Literature of the Absurd: A Literary Discovery (1971). In addition, he edited several Russian classics for the W.W. Norton series, among them these critical editions: Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment , Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina and Gogol's Dead Souls . In all, he edited 20 books and published 90 articles, was a major translator of Russian dramatists of the absurd and also of the works of Jaroslav Seifert, the Czech Nobel Prize-winning poet. He received numerous awards, among them grants from the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Guggenheim fellowship and a Fulbright research grant.

Conference speakers will be former students of Gibian who went on to distinguish themselves in various academic fields, and they include guest University Lecturer Thomas Seifrid, Ph.D. '84 (see accompanying article on Seifrid's University Lecture for more information). Speakers will address literature, literary theory, linguistics and law and society.Below is a complete conference program:

Friday, April 6, Guerlac Room, A.D. White House:

  • 2 p.m.: Peter Gibian, associate professor of English, McGill University: "'A Travelling Culture': Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature."
  • 3 p.m.: University Lecture by Thomas Seifrid, associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures, University of Southern California, on "Roman Jakobson's Sculptural Myth."
  • 4:30 p.m.: Reception.

Saturday, April 7, Guerlac Room, A.D. White House:

  • 10 a.m.: Richard Weisberg, the Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law, Cardoza School of Law, "More on the Examining Magistrate in Dostoevski and Malamud."
  • 11:15 a.m.: Caryl Emerson, the A. Watson Armour III Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Princeton University, "Again on Shakespeare, Pushkin, Boris Godunov, and Measure for Measure."
  • 12:30 p.m.: Buffet lunch
  • 1:30 p.m.: Exhibit in the Kroch Library Rare and Manuscript Collections, Level B.
  • 2 p.m.: Lecture in 2B Kroch Library: Louise Shelley, director of the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, "Trafficking in Human Beings: Russian Organized Crime in Comparative Perspective."
  • 3:30 p.m.: Musical performance in rehearsal hall B-20, Lincoln Hall: Caryl Emerson, Princeton University: Musorgsky, Three Songs and Dances of Death ; Sterling Beckwith, professor of music and humanities, York University, with Graeme Bailey, professor of computer science, Cornell, piano accompaniment, Shostakovich's Four Pushkin Monologues, opus 91.

Co-sponsors for the conference include the European Studies Program, the Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Society for the Humanities, the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, the University Lectures Committee and the Kroch Library Rare and Manuscript Collections. For more information, contact: William J. Kennedy, professor and chair of comparative literature, 145 Goldwin Smith Hall; phone (607) 255-4155; or e-mail wjk3@cornell.edu .

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