Dan exploring the town of Ostuni, Puglia, Spring 2009

At a recent Open House in which the department was presenting itself, the parent of a prospective Comparative Literature student asked me: “How long have you been teaching at AUP?” It came as a shock to me to add up the years, and arrive at the grand total of twenty-two. That means I have taught a lot of students; many of whom, I’m glad to say, I am still in touch with – and more of whom I hope to hear from soon through the CL blog.

When asked by alums what I am currently up to, I tend to answer “More of the same”. This is true, if only part of the story. I am still teaching in the Comp Lit programme, as well as in the English programme (this semester I am teaching EN100 for the first time, to a class of fourteen, not one of whom is Anglophone). I am also now teaching – or shall be in the Spring – in the Masters of Cultural Translation, which is now in its second year of operation.

I am still working, presently with four interns, on the Letters of Samuel Beckett, for which so many former students laboured in the archives. The first volume of the edition was published last year, with a big launch party in Dublin. The edition has been amazingly well received, and has been reviewed in more than sixty locations. If you are interested, you can read a selection of these at my AUP profile page:
All the students who had worked on the project – more than forty of them – were acknowledged by name in the introduction. Volume II was submitted to Cambridge University Press in June of this year, and will be out in September 2011. (In fact, put the date in your diary if you are anywhere near Paris: launch party at the Irish Cultural Centre on 15 September.) And now we are working on Volume III, which needs to be turned in next year: a huge task, but a fascinating one.

A lot of my extra energies over the past two years have gone into setting up and running the AUP Center for Writers & Translators. This operates along with the publication of the Cahiers Series, whose Editor I am (as well as being its occasional translator from French). This project has led to some very interesting visits from writers, such as, over the course of this year alone, Gao Xingjian, J. M. Coetzee, and László Krasznahorkai. I’m very proud of the Cahiers Series as they really are quite unlike any other publications I know of in the Anglo-American publishing world: they are beautiful, quirky, unpredictable, surprising. We have been fortunate enough to benefit from a grant from the Florence Gould Foundation, and with this assistance we shall be publishing a very interesting set of new cahiers over this academic year, starting in January with Evasions by the Harvard professor Daniel Albright, accompanied by paintings by the South African painter Peter Sacks. Details of the Center activities and of the cahiers can be found at: http://www.aup.edu/cwt/default.htm

I’m looking forward to hearing from you over the months to come as the blog becomes more active. One thing we are constantly hearing from new students, and above all from their parents, is: What can someone do with a degree in Comparative Literature? I know that our alums will help us to answer this question in a more informed and less approximate fashion.

Dan Gunn’s official AUP webpage is here.