May 14, 1998
Vol. 17, No. 16

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    Exploring a relationship between Europe, U.S.

    Conference in honor of late Francois Furet

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Scholars and political leaders from Europe will join American counterparts in "The European-American Connection," an exploration of the changing relationship between Europe and the United States.

    The conference, sponsored by the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, will be held Friday, May 15, through Sunday, May 17, in the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes Hall.

    "The European-American Connection" is being held in honor of the late François Furet, the Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor in Social Thought, and leading French intellectual. Among Furet's many works is The Passing of an Illusion, an examination of the fall of Communism in Europe, soon to be published in English by the Press.

    "Furet's life and thought expressed a deeply held conviction of the political and intellectual importance of the European-American connection," said Nathan Tarcov, Professor and Chairman of the Committee on Social Thought and Director of the Olin Center. Furet originally proposed the conference, Tarcov said, and after his untimely death in July, the Olin Center decided to proceed with the conference in his honor.

    Ralph Lerner, Benjamin Franklin Professor in the College and of Social Thought and Associate Director of the Olin Center, worked with Tarcov on planning this conference. He said that Furet, "like his master Tocqueville, believed that Americans could learn from the birthplace of their civilization. Like the architects of the North Atlantic Alliance, Furet also believed that a world in which the United States and Europe had strong political ties was a safer and more humane one."

    The conference will open at 1 p.m. Friday, May 15, with the session "The Literary Connection." Glenn Most, Professor in Social Thought, and Helen Vendler, professor of English at Harvard, will speak.

    Sessions will resume at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, with "America in the European Self-Understanding." Among the speakers will be James Ceaser, professor of government and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia; G. M. Tamás, a retired member of parliament in Hungary and leading member of the democratic opposition under the country's Communist regime; and George Walden, a diplomat, writer and former undersecretary for education in Britain.

    At 2:30 p.m., the focus will reverse with "Europe in the American Self-Understanding." The speakers will include David Bromwich, professor of English at Yale; Charles Fairbanks, research professor in foreign policy at Johns Hopkins; and Wilson Carey McWilliams, professor of political science at Rutgers.

    The conference will conclude at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 17, with "The Political-Military Alliance." Pierre Hassner, a professor with the National Foundation of Political Science at the Center for International Studies in Paris, and John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science, will speak.

    For more information on the conference, call 702-3423.