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Former students will gather to celebrate Jonathan Culler

Jonathan Culler

Many of professor Jonathan Culler's former and current students will gather to celebrate Culler’s 70th birthday and honor his contributions to literary theory at a conference Oct. 3-4, “Literary Theory at Cornell: A Celebration of Jonathan Culler and His Students.”

“Jonathan Culler has been one of the most active and generous graduate mentors in the history of Cornell,” says Roger Gilbert, chair of the English department. “His dedication to training young scholars is all the more remarkable given his international stature, prolific scholarship and busy speaking schedule. Jonathan has worked closely with students from English, comparative literature and other departments, with interests ranging from literary theory to narrative prose and lyric poetry. We’re very excited at the prospect of welcoming many of them back to Cornell.”

The Class of 1916 Professor of English, Culler’s scholarship in literary theory is among the most highly regarded in the field. His seminal texts, which have been translated into more than 25 languages, include “Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature” (1975, revised 2002), “On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism After Structuralism” (1982), “Framing the Sign: Criticism and Its Institutions” (1992) and “Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction” (1997).

His honors include the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association, a Rhodes scholarship, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has served as president of the American Comparative Literature Association and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He earned his B.A. in history and literature at Harvard University in 1966 and a B.Phil. in comparative literature in 1968 and D.Phil. in modern languages in 1972, both at Oxford University.

Swedish philosopher and literary scholar Martin Hagglund, professor of comparative literature and humanities at Yale University, will give the conference keynote, "Burying the Dead in a Secular Age," Friday, Oct. 3, at 4:30 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, followed by a reception. Hagglund's work was the focus of a 2008 conference at Cornell, "The Challenge of Radical Atheism: Critical Responses."

Saturday’s panel discussions with Culler’s former students take place in 120 Physical Sciences; topics include “Theory and the Humanities,” “The Lyric” and “Theorizing Literature.” Jeff Nunokawa (Princeton University) will serve as master of ceremonies.

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