Center for Leadership
Intellectuals, and World War II: The Pontigny Encounters at
Mount Holyoke College
Gelfand, Dorothy Rooke McCullock Professor of French at
Mount Holyoke College, opened the Pontigny Symposium held
at the College from November 6-8, 2003.
Gelfand explained that the symposium honored a brief moment in Mount Holyoke’s
when intellectuals and artists around the world gathered in
Hadley, Massachusetts. During the summers of 1942-1944,
this remarkable group of participants met to discuss
the roles of art in public life. Helen Patch, professor
of French at Mount Holyoke, organized the series of
intellectual “encounters” (“Pontigny-en-Amerique”)
and modeled them on the original Pontigny meetings in
the Burgundy region of France organized
by Paul Desjardins during the years of 1916-1939.
The original meetings in France ended with the beginning of political unrest
preceding WWII. Professor Patch, along with Sorbonne Professor Gustave
Cohen and French
Jean Wahl, believed
Mount Holyoke could provide a peaceful setting to the refugee intellectuals
who had hoped to replicate the orignial Pontigny meetings
German philosopher Hannah Arendt, artists Marc Chagall
and Robert Motherwell, and United States' poet
Wallace Stevens were among those intellectuals who participted in Mount Holyoke
Keynote Address by Stanley Cavell with an Introduction by Professor Christopher
Roundtable Discussion:"The Legacy of Rachel Bespaloff,
Writer and Teacher"
Quicktime plug-in required.
Copyright © 2004
Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA
01075, Phone: 413-538-2564.
This page is created by Mallika Aryal '05, Natalia Stefanova '05 and Eleanor
S. Choo '06. Last modified on
September 22, 2004