Leon Feraru and the Invention of Romanian Cultural Diplomacy in the United States

Friday, October 11, 2019
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Romanian Cultural Institute, 200 East 38th Street, New York, NY, USA

Please join the Romanian Cultural Institute and the East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute for an event in the Leon Feraru Conference Series, featuring professors Mona Momescu and Christopher J. Caes.

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To honor the memory of the writer, academic, and diplomat who did more than anybody else at the beginning of the 20th century to promote Romanian culture & arts in the United States, we’re pleased to announce the launch of the Romanian Cultural Institute's newest permanent program, The Leon Feraru Conference Series. Set up in partnership with Columbia University’s East Central European Center as a platform for Romanian-American intellectual dialogue, the series debuts with a talk and exhibition devoted to the great man himself. 

Leon Feraru (1887-1960), poet, academic, diplomat, and journalist, was the most active figure of the Romanian-American cultural relations at the beginning of the 20th Century. He truly is, as the first co-director of the Institute of Romanian Culture established at Columbia University in 1925, the very founder of the Romanian cultural diplomacy in the United States. Born Otto Enselberg/Inselberg in Brăila, Romania, Feraru came to America in 1913 and taught Romanian language and literature at Columbia University and Long Island University. For several years in the 1920s he was the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Romania in New York. A delicate, yet forceful poet, doubled by a relentless cultural promoter and a keen journalist, Feraru was instrumental in creating the first coherent means - like institutions, academic courses and publications - to make Romanian culture better known to the American public. His publications include the first anthology of Romanian verse published in the United States. He was the published of the official magazine of the Romanian community in New York, the bi-lingual Our Star and the New Rumania. Upon his death, his friends issued A Prospectus for a Volume in Memory of a Distinguished Romanian Poet Containing Tributes, Appreciations, Miscellanea, Will Be Published in the Near Future. It contains several poems by Feraru and many blank pages. The Leon Feraru Conference Series is both an homage to his inspiring work and an attempt to fill those empty pages with initiatives Feraru would appreciate and support. 

Mona Momescu is a lecturer of Romanian Language and Culture at Columbia University/The Romanian Language Institute. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Bucharest. Her research focuses on Romanian identity, Romanian heritage language speakers and technology in language and culture teaching. She is working on a project on the history of Romanian language programs at Columbia University. She published a book on the Romanian literary canon and cultural identity at the turn of the 20th century, and studies and articles on Romanian studies in academic and cultural Romanian publications.

Christopher J. Caes is Co-Director of the East Central European Center, Columbia University. He holds a Ph.D. from Berkeley University. After Berkeley, Christopher Caes taught at the University of Florida and Florida State University. Since 2016, he holds the position of Lecturer in Polish in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Columbia University. His areas of interest and expertise include 19th and 20th century Polish literature and culture, Polish intellectual history, Polish cinema, and Central and East European literary and cultural theory. His research focuses on conceptions of selfhood and agency in the literature and cinema of Polish Stalinism and the post-Stalinist “Thaw”.