Generous Contribution from Alumnus David Bruce Smith Funds New Course in Jewish American Literature

Read the official press release:


WASHINGTON – A new course on contemporary Jewish American works of literature has debuted at The George Washington University this spring thanks to a significant gift from David Bruce Smith, B.A. ’79, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. The gift is funding “Literature Live,” a unique class within the Department of English that allows students to study and interact with prominent Jewish American authors. Renowned writer and GW professor Faye Moskowitz teaches the course.

“David Bruce Smith’s generosity is enabling the English department to deepen its strengths in Jewish American literature, a vibrant field that we would like to see grow at GW,” said Jeffrey J. Cohen, chair of the GW Department of English. “The students in Faye Moskowitz’s course have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As department chair, I am happy to see this course become a reality. We are doing something at GW unparalleled at any other university in the United States.”

Award-winning authors and novels to be studied throughout “Literature Live” include Away by Amy Bloom; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon; Moskowitz’s A Leak in the Heart; The Family Diamond by Edward Schwarszchild; The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer; Maus by Art Spiegelman; The Far Euphrates by Aryeh lev Stollman; and Petropolis by Anya Ulinich. While on campus, several authors will give readings open to the entire GW community. Ulinich will read on March 5; Chabon, who will be introduced by GW’s Wang Visiting Professor in Contemporary English Edward P. Jones, will present on March 23; and Spiegelman will read on April 2.

“It is my hope that this gift will help grow Jewish literature teachings at The George Washington University,” said Smith. “‘Literature Live’ will be a uniquely GW experience for students.”

David Bruce Smith and his family are longtime benefactors to GW. He has established two scholarship funds for undergraduate students at the University and provided support for other GW initiatives such as the Cancer Institute and the President’s Fund for Excellence. Last year, the Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith Family Foundations and Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod committed $10 million to GW for the renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center. At the time of the announcement, the gift was the largest single philanthropic commitment in GW’s history. David Bruce Smith sits on the board of the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation. Robert H. Smith and Charles E. Smith are David Bruce Smith’s father and grandfather, respectively, and he is the nephew of Robert and Arlene Kogod.

Moskowitz said, “Thanks to the generosity of David Bruce Smith, some fortunate GW students — and their equally lucky professor — will encounter the work of established, as well as emerging, Jewish American writers and then have an opportunity for face-to-face dialogue with those writers.”

GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English also recently received a significant gift by Albert Wang and his family. The gift includes support for the Wang Visiting Professorship in Contemporary English Literature and the Wang Endowed Fund in English Literature and Literary Studies, which will fund an annual series of lectures by prominent authors and scholars. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward P. Jones was named as the first Wang Visiting Professor and currently is in residence for the spring 2009 semester. Renowned scholar of literature, Latino studies, and performance theory Jose Munoz was named as the second Wang Visiting Professor and will be in residence during the 2009 fall semester.

The Department of English is an active research community of scholars and creative writers who prize excellence in teaching, publication, and service. The department has about 300 undergraduate majors and an award-winning faculty of more than 30 professors. It is nationally recognized for its strengths in both literature and creative writing. Long known for its expertise in African American literature, the department also is renowned for its research and publication in early modern and medieval studies; ethnic literature, including Asian American and Jewish texts; 19th-century literature; and creative writing.

Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in Washington, D.C. The University offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

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