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Archive of Historically Significant Papers to Open in Phenomenology Center

The papers of Montreal psychiatrist Karl Stern, including wide-ranging correspondence with Catholic intellectuals, will be preserved in the Duquesne University’s Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center.

A prominent mid-century Catholic convert who was deeply influenced by existential-phenomenology, Stern maintained correspondence with fellow converts such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Graham Greene, Clare Boothe Luce, fellow psychiatrist Gregory Zilboorg and John M. Osttereicher, a Catholic theologian and leading advocate of Jewish-Catholic reconciliation. These discussions will be included along with other notable correspondences with Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who was Stern’s mentor; C.S. Lewis, Reinhold Neibuhr and one letter each from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Stern also had a brief exchange with the Rev. Adrian van Kaam, C.S.Sp., who founded Duquesne’s Ph.D. program in psychology.

The free dedication ceremony will take place on Friday, Oct. 10, from 2-4 p.m. in the center, which is on the first floor of Duquesne’s Gumberg Library. A reception will follow, with RSVPs requested at www.duq.edu/stern.

“Stern’s books, including Pillar of Fire and Flight from Woman, wrestled with important questions in psychology, religion and culture that draw on the traditions of Judaism, Catholicism and psychoanalysis,” said Dr. Jeffrey McCurry, director of the center. “In combination with his rich correspondences with figures as profound and diverse as those that we have in our archive, our collection represents the work of an incredibly interesting man. We are proud to preserve his work here in the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center.”

The dedication ceremony agenda includes:

·         Welcome from McCurry 

·         Dedication lecture Catholics and the Reception of Psychoanalysis, 1920-1950 from Dr. Paula Kane, associate professor and chair of contemporary Catholic studies at University of Pittsburgh

·         Remarks from Stern’s daughter, Katherine Skorzewska

·         Remarks from Dr. Daniel Burston, associate professor of psychology at Duquesne.

Burston found the papers while interviewing Skorzewska at her home in Montreal for a forthcoming biography on Stern. “I asked her where I could find his papers, and she pointed me to seven or eight large boxes in her dining room,” Burston said. With Skorzewska’s permission, they have become part of the center’s collection.

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