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Realism and Its Vicissitudes

Essays in Honor of Sandy Petrey

Edited By Robert Harvey and Patrice Nganang

This collection honors the career of Donald «Sandy» Petrey, Professor of Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook for over forty years. The diversity of essays – written by colleagues, friends, and former students, and ranging in subject from the traditional Festschrift theme of the honoree’s compelling contributions to the study of realism and the novel’s role in history, to chapters on Susan Sontag’s experimental films, the thought of the late Marxist philosopher André Gorz, silence in the graphic novel, and linguistic disparities between American and Standard Italian – attests to the plasticity of Sandy Petrey’s mind and the ample indications of his work. Best-known (and well-loved) for his often gruff, no-nonsense style in teaching and prose, Petrey is celebrated by those whose careers and ideas he has helped to nurture, inform, and embolden. This collection is a fine text for courses in nineteenth-century as well as contemporary French studies and literature.
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6. André Gorz and the Philosophical Foundation of the Political

Remembering Past Times

Extract



DICK HOWARD

It has been more than four decades since I was welcomed to the very young State University of New York at Stony Brook by Sandy Petrey, who took me in hand in both the academic world and also the social environment—to the point that with his help we found ourselves neighbors for more than a decade in the village of Port Jefferson. In the academy, but also in the political climate of the time, when a New Left movement was searching for the theoretical foundations of its undoubted attractiveness, we found ourselves allies. Stony Brook was an isolated and artificial implant on the wealthy North Shore of Long Island; students, and especially graduate students, were left to fend for themselves. What some called the “Port Jefferson Left” formed a milieu of its own, with study groups, protest movements, and a feeling of youthful optimism. It was good to be there at that time.

The same optimism and enthusiasm was present among many of us at the university, where the lines of academic disciplines were constantly challenged by a collective curiosity. Sandy Petrey was one of the guiding spirits. Although the original élan remained, New York State experienced its first financial crisis (after the reign of governor Nelson Rockefeller). A paradoxical result was that the State University refused to certify any new graduate program that duplicated existing curricula. As a result, the newly created graduate philosophy department had to present its offerings...

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