In the 70s I took a course offered at the at the Centre under the direction of Prof. Graham Nicholson, entitled “Hermeneutics”. We focused on Gadamer’s Truth and Method. It was that course that changed my life. I had come to Canada from Ireland where it was thought to be revolutionary to be reading the Canadian Lonergan and his book, Insight (1957). What the Centre allowed me to do was to explore the notion of “method” in Gadamer’s book and so expand the notion of “method”, which I had from Lonergan’s Method in Theology (1972)
This course offered by the Centre also inspired me to organize the York Literary Society and hold the international conference on “Hermeneutics and Structuralism: Merging Horizons,” 1978, at York University. The guest speakers included: Gadamer, Voegelin, Allan Bloom and Lonergan. The entire conference was video taped and is now available on DVD entiled, Voeglin at York ‘78 and is available from Amazon on line. Here you can see all the guest speakers in action, which is perfect for any classroom.
The Centre for Comparative Literature was also the inspiration and source for the founding of the York Literary Soeciety of which in those years I was president. We made an appointment to visit Frye at his Massey College, office, to invite him to the conference. He asked to see our poster listing all the guests and speakers and after some time he said he regretted that he had to decline our invitation because of a schedule conflict, but added graciously that we had picked all the right guys.
So the course at the Centre not only served as an excellent introduction to Gadamer, the founding of the York Literary Society, but was also the catalyst for what my friends like to say was my “conversion” from Lonergan to a lifetime commitment to Frye and his writings and his legacy.
I am presently working on a book, Frye on Dante, with the chairman of the Italian Department at U of T, Domenico Pietropaulo, who was also a student of Prof. Graham Nicholson and a graduate of the Centre.