Vanwesenbeeck co-chairs sold-out international Zweig symposium at Ghent University

Roger Coda
Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck discusses the Zweig symposium in a studio of the Belgian national classical radio station, Klara

Dr. Birger Vanwesenbeeck (far left) discusses the Zweig symposium in a studio of the Belgian national classical radio station, Klara, together with Ghent University professor Els Snick (second from left).

Department of English Professor Birger Vanwesenbeeck co-chaired an international symposium devoted to renowned Austrian-Jewish author Dr. Stefan Zweig, at Ghent University in Belgium.

The in-person symposium on Feb. 10, which was co-sponsored by Fredonia’s Reed Library, was slated to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Dr. Zweig’s death later this month. It brought together scholars from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States to reflect on Zweig’s near-half-century relationship to Belgium, a country he once lovingly referred to as “the small country between the languages.”

Many of the presentations, including Dr. Vanwesenbeeck’s, focused on primary documents held in Reed Library’s Stefan Zweig Collection, including the author’s correspondences with Belgian artists Léon Spilliaert and Frans Masereel, and with the Francophone Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren.

At the height of his literary career in the 1920s and 1930s, Zweig was the most translated writer in Europe.

The symposium, which featured presentations in both English and Dutch, was sold out and was officially opened by the mayor of Ghent. In addition, hundreds of Zweig enthusiasts followed the presentations remotely via the livestream of Ghent University. 

Earlier last week, Vanwesenbeeck and his co-chair, Ghent University Professor Els Snick, were also invited to the studio of the national classical radio station, Klara, to speak about the symposium and about the continuing relevance of Zweig 80 years after his death. An audio recording of their studio interview (in Dutch) may be found online.

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