Daniel Schwarz honored with essay collection

Daniel R. Schwarz's influence as a teacher and scholar has involved promoting the value of undergraduate education; mentoring students, young colleagues and the future professoriate; and addressing aesthetic and historical concerns in rigorous, humanistic cultural and literary criticism.

Schwarz, the Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell, is the focus of a new book, "Reading Texts, Reading Lives: Essays in the Tradition of Humanistic Cultural Criticism in Honor of Daniel R. Schwarz" (University of Delaware Press; Rowman and Littlefield in the U.K.).

Co-edited by two of his former students, the festschrift acknowledges Schwarz's roles as an influential voice in modern critical studies of literature as well as an exemplary teacher and mentor. The book includes an interview with Schwarz by co-editor Daniel Morris of Purdue University and an extensive bibliography of Schwarz's work.

"Working on the festschrift was a true labor of love for me and an appreciation for all Dan Schwarz has done for countless people through his teaching, mentoring and teaching-oriented scholarship," Morris said. "It is mind-blowing to me when I think about all the students Dan has influenced through his teaching and writing. Dan has taught thousands of Cornell students; many of these have gone on to teach and mentor."

Schwarz began teaching at Cornell in 1968. He received the College of Arts and Sciences' Russell Award for distinguished teaching in 1998 and was named a Weiss fellow in 1999.

"I consider ['Reading Texts, Reading Lives'], along with the Weiss and Whiton, among the greatest honors I have received," Schwarz said. "I am simply touched and overwhelmed by the volume."

Morris and several of the contributors first met Schwarz as participants in National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars for College Teachers that he led. Many of the participants, Schwarz said, "I continued to mentor long after that summer."

Morris added: "By leading many of these seminars, Dan in effect has influenced all of the students of people like me who have now taught thousands of students over the last 20 years."

Co-editor Helen Maxson, M.A. '84, Ph.D. '87, studied with Schwarz at Cornell; she is now a professor of language and literature at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

Working on the book "allowed me to honor a teacher whose character and expertise shaped me a great deal as a professional," she said. "The Cornell graduate students I studied with were drawn to Dan's supportive, fun and humane qualities as a teacher. He took very seriously his job of training us to be professionals. Over the years, we learned from him what it means to stay current with a huge field that is always evolving. We learned what it means to be part of that evolution with an ethical perspective that builds bridges among factions."

Morris said: "He taught me that being a college teacher can and should extend in time and space beyond the classroom. Dan has made it his mission to keep in touch with people like me … decades after my classroom experience with him was over. Dan is still always there for me."

Beth Newman, M.A. '82, Ph.D. '87, of Southern Methodist University; and St. John's College English department chair Stephen Sicari, M.A. '83, Ph.D. '86, also contributed essays.

Schwarz has written 15 books, including a two-volume study of the complete works of Joseph Conrad and volumes on Benjamin Disraeli, James Joyce and Wallace Stevens. Other works have examined modern art and literature, books and films about the Holocaust, and Damon Runyon's New York. "Endtimes? Crises and Turmoil at The New York Times: 1999-2009" was published earlier this year.

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