Conference to celebrate 50 years of Dan Schwarz's teaching

The Department of English will host more than 250 alumni, faculty and students March 23-24 in a celebration of a half-century of teaching at Cornell by Daniel Schwarz, the Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow.

The conference, “50 Years of Transformative Teaching,” will feature panels, lectures and other tributes, and will be held in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall. A full schedule and registration information can be found at the Celebrating Dan Schwarz event webpage. The event is free but registration is requested.

“The English department is thrilled to have this opportunity to honor the career of one of our most beloved teachers and mentors,” said Roger Gilbert, professor and the Picket Family Chair of the English Department. “We’re especially gratified that so many of Dan Schwarz’ former students will be traveling to Ithaca, some from distant parts of the world, to join in the celebration. It’s a testimony to the gratitude and affection Dan has earned from so many over his five decades at Cornell.”

Three of the conference’s keynote speakers are former students of Schwarz who are now professors: Lee Konstantinou ’00, University of Maryland; Janice Carlisle, M.A. ’72, Ph.D. ’73, Yale University; and Beth Newman, M.A. ’82, Ph.D. ’87, Southern Methodist University. The fourth, James Phelan of Ohio State University, is a longtime colleague and collaborator.

Konstantinou first met Schwarz in his First-Year Writing Seminar. “I loved his class so much that I took two others with him, including his wonderful course on Joyce’s ‘Ulysses,’” he said. “In my senior year, I asked him to direct my thesis. Now, more than 20 years after I first met Dan, it’s startling for me to think that my story is just one of many. Thousands of intellectual odysseys have launched from his classes. Dan's legacy will last a long, long time.”

The conference will include panels of alumni on “The Humanities as Gateway: Vocations and Avocations” and “Five Decades of Transformative Teaching.”

“Dan’s gravel-voiced brashness was legendary when I arrived at Cornell in 1978,” said Newman. “For me, as for many others, it soon became inseparable from his personal warmth, his love of literature and his passion for teaching. It is now indelibly part of my experience of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses,’ which I was lucky enough not only to study with Dan, but to teach with him as his TA. I watched him make one of the most difficult monuments of high modernism not only accessible but also meaningful to undergraduates. That is no mean feat.”

Schwarz’s research interests are broad, spanning multiple centuries and fields. He is the author of 18 books and editor or co-editor of many others. His most recent works are “How to Succeed in College and Beyond: The Art of Learning,” translated into Mandarin in China; “Endtimes? Crisis and Turmoil at the New York Times”; and two volumes on the European novel, “Reading the European Novel to 1900” and its recently published sequel, “Reading the Modern European Novel from 1900.”

Schwarz is faculty president of the Cornell chapter of Phi Beta Kappa as well as the longtime faculty adviser to the English Club, now called the Literary Society, and was for many years adviser to the men’s varsity tennis team. He is active in the Presidential Research and College Scholar programs and is the recipient of the 1998 College of Arts and Sciences Russell Award for distinguished teaching.

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle. 

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		 Daniel Schwarz, Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow