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Juniata Professor to Lecture on Renaissance Poems Written in Grief

(Posted January 11, 2010)

James Roney, professor of Russian, will speak on the poetry of Jan Kocjanowski at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The death of a loved one can inspire many reactions in the hearts of those left behind, and James Roney, professor of Russian at Juniata College, will discuss how a 16th-century Polish poet dealt with the death of his daughters in the talk, "Death, Tradition and Knowledge," at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Bookend Lecture series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Roney will explain how death affected the work of poet Jan Kochanowski, who wrote "Treny" (known in English as "The Laments"), a cycle of anguished poems commemorating the death of his two young daughters from disease. The literary conventions of the time were that "lament poems" should only be used to honor great men or great events.

Kochanowski broke away from convention by writing his cycle of poems as a way to search for an answer to personal tragedy -- using Renaissance humanism and Christian faith. Roney will outline and discuss how the answers Kochanowski arrived at reveal how artistic works combine representation, form and expression to create a body of knowledge needed to cope with issues of tragedy and identity.

Kochanowski wrote "Treny" in 1580 as a series of 19 elegies. He also wrote plays and completed a modern translation of the Psalms.

Roney, joined the Juniata faculty in 1988. He has been previously recognized for classroom excellence, receiving the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1993 and the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2008. He was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to full professor in 1995.

Roney was instrumental in establishing a Juniata study-abroad program at the Volgograd State Pedagogical University in Volgograd, Russia, and in 1990 led a contingent of Juniata faculty to the Soviet Union for the five-week Fulbright-Hayes seminar "Understanding the Soviet Union." At Juniata, he recently led a faculty seminar on using film in teaching International Studies funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and a project on proficiency-based language instruction funded by the American Council on Education.

Roney earned a bachelor's degree in Russian language and literature in 1973 from Dartmouth College. He earned a master's degree in Slavic languages and literature in 1975, followed by a doctoral degree in Slavic literature in 1981, both from Ohio State University. He has studied abroad in Russia, Poland, and Germany and taught courses at Volgograd State Pedagogical University.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.