Chris Gossip’s colleagues honour him with scholarly publication

Published 24 November 2009

chrisgEmeritus Professor Chris Gossip was presented with a volume of essays in his honour on the 45th anniversary of the beginning of his academic career.

The volume – French Seventeenth-Century Literature: Influences and Transformations, Essays in Honour of Christopher J. Gossip – demonstrates the respect for him as a scholar and teacher – and the affection for him as a friend and colleague – that he has inspired in the course of that career.

Chris Gossip (pictured here) was Professor of French at the University of New England from the beginning of 1991 until July 2007.

He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, and it is an essay by his PhD supervisor at Edinburgh – Emeritus Professor H.T. Barnwell – that opens the celebratory volume (or Festschrift).

Professor Gossip held academic positions at the Universities of Aberdeen and Swansea before being invited to Australia to fill the New England Chair, and the volume includes contributions by Professors of French from both of those universities and from six other Professors and retired Professors of French from other British universities. It also includes essays by five of Chris Gossip’s colleagues and former colleagues at UNE.

In all, French Seventeenth-Century Literature: Influences and Transformations, contains 13 peer-reviewed essays by scholars in the UK, Ireland and Australia. As pointed out by its editors – Jane Southwood and Bernard Bourque – the title anchors the volume in the seventeenth century “while allowing for contributions from scholars working in earlier and later periods”. Among the “influences” discussed are those of Homer, Euripides and Plutarch, and the “transformations” include the works of Jean Cocteau, Andrzej Zulawski and Marguerite Yourcenar.

In officially launching the Festschrift at UNE last month, Professor Kerry Dunne, a former colleague of Professor Gossip at UNE, outlined his “long and distinguished record of publications on the literature of the seventeenth century”. Professor Dunne, now Director of the Language Centre at the University of Wollongong, mentioned in particular Professor Gossip’s “invaluable” critical editions of several seventeenth-century plays, and his current collaboration on a complete critical edition of the plays of Thomas Corneille.

Dr Jane Southwood, the UNE lecturer in French who initiated the Festschrift project at the time of Professor Gossip’s retirement, said: “Tonight brings to conclusion a project undertaken to honour Chris Gossip, much-loved colleague, mentor and friend, whose meticulous attention to detail, gentle humour and incomparable gifts as scholar, teacher and administrator [as Head of the former School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at UNE and Convener of French] inspired the project in the first place.”

In his response, Professor Gossip said he was “humbly grateful” for the work of Dr Southwood and Dr Bourque (Convener of French at UNE in 2007/8) in planning and editing the volume, and of many other people – including the contributing authors and their reviewers. He paid special tribute to the life-long support of his wife Jean who, together with their daughters Sarah and Olivia, accompanied him at the launch.

In the presence of Mr Pierre Labbe, Cooperation and Cultural Counsellor at the French Embassy in Canberra, Professor Gossip thanked the French Embassy for its continuing support of French studies at UNE. The Embassy – as well as UNE – provided financial assistance for publication of the Festschrift, by the Oxford-based academic publisher Peter Lang, as Volume 7 in the series “Medieval and Early Modern French Studies” edited by Professor Noel Peacock.

Mr Labbe, who travelled with his wife Madeleine to Armidale for the launch, spoke about the well-functioning exchange programs that Professor Gossip had set up between French universities and UNE, and of his dedicated service to seventeenth-century French literature – bringing it to life for countless students and scholars.

French Seventeenth-Century Literature: Influences and Transformations will be one of the publications on display in “Booloominbah” from 4 pm tomorrow (Wednesday 25 November) at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ “Celebration of Research”.

Clicking on the image of Professor Gossip displayed here reveals a photograph of him with Mr Pierre Labbe, Mrs Madeleine Labbe (second from left) and Dr Jane Southwood.