.: News & Events
The First International Conference on Lebanese American Literature, with its two prophets Ameen Rihani and Kahlil Gibran, took place between Sunday, August 16 and Friday, August 21, 1998 in Saydat Al-Jabal Conference Center in Lebanon. The Conference was organized by the Faculty of Humanities at Notre Dame University (NDU), Lebanon.
A press conference announced the events on Wednesday, August 5, 1998, followed by several interviews with the Dean of Humanities, the Chairperson of the Conference Committee and the Provost and Vice President for Acadamic Affairs of the University. The press conference and the interviews were aired on all TV channels in Lebanon, on other major Arab TV stations, and in Rome and London.
Eleven Participating Universities
American University in Washington, D.C., Santa Clara University in California, Baylor University in Texas, Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Sydney in Australia, Baharati University in India, Qatar University in Qatar, the Lebanese University, Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon, and Notre Dame University in Kesrouan, Lebanon all participated by delivering papers on Rihani and Gibran.
Attendance and Opening Address
About 200 university professors, journalists and graduate students attended the two day lecture sessions. The opening session included addresses by the Conference Chairperson, Dr. Naji Oueijan, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Dr. Assaad Eid and the President of Notre Dame University Rev. Father Francois Eid. This was followed by the keynote speaker, Dr. Ameen Albert Rihani, nephew of Ameen Rihani and Vice President of NDU, who delivered a presentation entitled "The Western Cultural Experience of Ameen Rihani". The presentation highlighted the western aspect of Rihani’s background in terms of his readings of American and European literature, and today’s significance of Rihani’s works.
Papers on Rihani were presented by the following professors:
Faddoul, Dr. Atif, from the Lebanese University: "Ameen Rihani, the Literary Critic" with an attempt to build a link between Rihani and the Arab figures of "Hadaatha" and modern Arab poetry, such as Louis Awad, Yussef Al Khal and others.
- Funk, Mr. Nathan, from the American University in Washington, D.C.: “East and West: The Life, Work, and Outlook of Ameen Fares Rihani”.
- Hajjar, Dr. Nijmeh, from the University of Sydney in Australia: “Ameen Rihani’s Discourse on Progress, Justice and Democracy: Dynamics of Theory and Practice”.
- Hawley, Dr. John, from Santa Clara University, California: "Ameen Rihani's Path Between the Scylia of Deconversion and the Charybdis of Modernity" with an emphasis on Rihani's The Path of Vision.
- Keyrouz, Dr. Akl, from NDU, Lebanon: “Ameen Rihani: Promoter of Arab Unity”.
- ilki, Dr. Henry, from NDU, Lebanon: "The Place and Influence of Ameen Rihani in Arab American Journalism".
- Nash, Dr. Geoffrey, from Qatar University: "Rihani, Gibran and the East-West Cultic Milieu". He based his analysis on Rihani's The Book of Khalid and its influence on Gibran. He shed new light on the Bahai material in Khalid's thought. His lecture traced the literary relationship between Rihani, Gibran and the Mahjar movement.
- Said, Dr. Abdul Aziz, from the American University in Washington, D.C.: “Rihani’s Spirituality Unites Precept and Practice”. (Dr. Said was unable to attend the conference -- Mr. Nathan Funk read this paper on Dr. Said's behalf).
- Vasillopulos, Dr. Christopher, from Eastern Connecticut State University: “Rihani and the Unmasking of Bolshevism” -- a new comparative study linking the political social thought of Rihani and that of Burke and Berdaev.
Highlight of the Conference
|Excerpts from Ar-Rihaniyat|
(translated into English)
Notre Dame University Press, 1998
The highlight of the conference was the translation of excerpts from Rihani's Ar-Rihaniyat, from Arabic into English, published in a book with Rihani’s poem dedicated to Gibran and the correspondence of both. The 81 page book is edited by Dr. Naji B. Oueijan and published at Notre Dame University Press, specifically for the conference.
A visit to the President of the Republic took place at the end of the first day during which he gave the university delegates an unusual long hour to discuss the conference events, NDU activities and politics in Lebanon and the region.
The second day was followed by a visit to the new NDU campus and a Conference Dinner. About 200 people attended including ministers, parliament members, mass media and administrators from several universities in Lebanon.
The third day included a visit to the Cedars of Lebanon, then to Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch of the Maronite Church, and a visit to Gibran’s Museum.
Visit to Rihani's birthplace and Museum
The fourth day scheduled a visit to Baalbeck, Zahle and then Freike, the birthplace of Ameen Rihani. After visiting the Rihani House and Museum, a reception was given in the garden of the Rihani Residence in honor of the overseas and national participants in the Conference. Journalists were invited and several interviews took place with the international guests.