Sunday, May 11, 2008

Festschrift for John J. Contreni

6 May 2008
US Fed News

A Purdue University historian will be honored by his colleagues and former students with a publication and three conference sessions devoted to his lifetime contributions in the field of medieval studies.

The career and scholarship of John J. Contreni, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will be celebrated at the May 8-11 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. Contreni is an expert in medieval literary, intellectual and monastic culture, specifically during the Carolingian Age when Charlemagne and his descendants in the 8th and 9th centuries rebuilt European society.

In addition to the three sessions in his honor at the conference on May 9, 19 scholars in the field are writing articles in honor of Contreni's scholarship. These articles will be published in a Festschrift, a German term for a commemorative volume of essays compiled in honor of a major scholar.

This particular collection will feature essays by medievalists from around the globe, said Steven Stofferahn, an assistant professor of history at Indiana State University and co-editor of the publication.

The book, which will feature articles on education, manuscripts, imperial expansion, hunting spectacles, Jewish-Christian relations, political ideals and the Carolingian Renaissance, will be published in 2010. It will be edited by Cullen Chandler, an assistant professor of history at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., and Stofferahn, two of Contreni's former students.

Contreni became dean of the College of Liberal Arts in 2006. Before that, he was dean of the Graduate School in 2004 after serving as interim dean from 2002-04. In 1999 his name was inscribed in Purdue's Book of Great Teachers. In 2003, he was elected a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in recognition of his contributions to medieval studies.

Contreni was head of the Department of History from 1985-97 and interim head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures from 1983-85. From 1981-85, he served as assistant dean for the School of Humanities, Social Science and Education, which is now the College of Liberal Arts. He has been at Purdue since 1971, and he earned his doctorate and master's degrees from Michigan State University in 1971 and 1968, respectively. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., in 1966.