Nicholas Graham: Fruits and Legacy of the Centre for Comparative Literature


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.

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2 thoughts on “Nicholas Graham: Fruits and Legacy of the Centre for Comparative Literature

  1. Dr. Frank Braio

    Dr. Graham seems to be making the same point as Dr. Denham.
    Loss of the Frye position at U of T would be a terrible loss to
    the students & to the future of U of T.
    I hope that there still is time to change things……
    A vital part of university life is being sacrificed.
    Sincerely, Dr. Frank Braio

  2. Jonathan Allan

    Please send a letter to the President of U of T, cc’ing the Provost, Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Chair of Comparative Literature, and the Save Comparative Literature Campaign (contact information: These are exactly the types of stories and histories that the University needs to be made aware of and the Frye blog is doing an excellent job of publishing these. I am preparing a post on the History of the Northrop Frye Professor in Literary Theory.


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