Conference celebrates Jonathan Culler

Stella Dawson
Cornell Chronicle

For a quarter of Cornell’s 150-year existence, Jonathan Culler, the Class of 1916 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, has been teaching and writing at Cornell. On Oct. 3-4, a conference celebrated his 70th birthday as well as many former and current students he’s taught in his 37.5 years on the Hill.

“Jonathan Culler is a great scholar, thinker and teacher whose work has played an outsized role in shaping informed discussion of literary theory,” said Marc Redfield, M.A. ’85, Ph.D. 90, chair of comparative literature at Brown University, who spoke at “Literary Theory at Cornell: A Celebration of Jonathan Culler and His Students.”

“His legacy is that more than anyone else he has made theory – especially literary theory – a force to contend with,” said Srinivas Aravamudan, Ph.D. ’91, professor of English, Romance studies and the Program in Literature at Duke University.

Cathy Caruth, the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, surprised Culler with the announcement that she’d arranged for two books to be published in his honor: a Festschrift of papers presented at the conference and other papers by Culler’s former students, with Redfield as lead editor, and “The Jonathan Culler Reader,” a collection of his writings to be edited by Culler’s most recent graduate student, Avery Slater, M.A. ’11, Ph.D. ’14, now a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin.

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