By Karen Birchard
Excerpt from: The Chronicle, October 29, 2010.
The University of Toronto’s internationally renowned Centre for Comparative Literature, founded in 1969 by the literary theorist Northrop Frye, is remaining open for the foreseeable future. The center faced closure at the end of this academic year because of departmental restructuring but now appears to have been given a new life thanks in part to the vocal support of academics from around the world.
“A few weeks ago, I knew we could admit students for next year. Since then I’ve known we can admit students for the next five years,” said the center’s director, Neil ten Kortenaar, who said the public outcry to keep the center operating “was crucial, absolutely crucial. It took me aback and I know it took the administration aback. It was amazing, it was gratifying, it was remarkable.”
The university, faced with a huge deficit, announced in July that it was closing the center and consolidating most language departments and some other humanities departments into a new school. That resulted in thousands of people signing petitions and writing letters, phoning, buttonholing university administrators, and sending e-mails to the president in protest.