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Hugh J. Silverman

August 17, 1945May 8, 2013

Hugh J. Silverman August 17, 1945- May 8, 2013 Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literary & Cultural Studies

Hugh J. Silverman, 67, of Port Jefferson, New York, died on May 8, 2013 in Stony Brook, New York. He was a renowned American Philosopher and cultural theorist whose books, teaching, and international conferences reached many around the world. Hugh J. Silverman was born on August 17, 1945 in Boston, Massachusetts, to the late Leslie Silverman and late Eleanore Riffin Silverman. He leaves his wife Gertrude Postl, his son Christopher Silverman and daughter Claire Goberman with her family of husband Alexander Goberman plus their four children Jacob, Lauren, Eli, and Keira. He also leaves three siblings, Julie Besser, Missy Lipsett and Lee Silverman. All family members will miss him dearly. Hugh J. Silverman was Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University, NY. He was one of the leading figures in the field of Continental Philosophy in the US and published widely on 20th century European philosophy, in particularly French thinkers, such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, and especially Jacques Derrida. His publications include Textualities: Between Hermeneutics and Deconstruction (Routledge, 1994, translated into German, 1997, Arabic, 2002, Italian, 2003, and Korean 2009) and Inscriptions: After Phenomenology and Structuralism (Routledge, 2nd edition: Northwestern University Press, 1997, translated into Korean, 2011), more than 25 edited books, over 130 articles and book chapters, as well as translations from French. Throughout his life, he was tirelessly devoted – through publications, lectures, and in his teaching – to spreading the contemporary relevance of continental thought. Working within an interdisciplinary approach, he was particularly interested in the intersection between philosophy and literature and philosophy and art, but also addressed issues of ethics and politics from a continental lens. Before embarking on his career of nearly 40 years at Stony Brook University, Hugh J. Silverman attended Noble & Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts (from 1957-1963), and Lehigh University (from 1963-1967), where he earned both a BA and an MA. He earned his Doctorate from Stanford University in 1973. During his career he held Visiting Professorships in North America and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and he delivered well over 450 invited lectures all over the world. He was the founder and Executive Director of the International Association for Philosophy and Literature (IAPL) for which he organized an international annual conference for 37 years. He was also co-founder and co-director of the annual International Philosophical Seminar in Alto Adige, Italy, which he organized annually from 1991 to the present. From 1980-86, he served as Executive Co-Director of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. At Stony Brook, he was Program Director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Philosophy Advanced Graduate Certificate, Chair of the Arts and Sciences Senate Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Policy Committee, and a member of the Arts and Sciences Senate Executive Committee. Hugh was an avid Yankees baseball fan and enjoyed travelling the world to give lectures and discover new cultures of peoples of all regions to expand his own horizons. He loved debating philosophy, politics and culture with colleagues, friends and family. His inquisitiveness, dedication to his students, and tireless commitment to the field of Continental Philosophy will be sorely missed. A quiet gathering at his home in Port Jefferson, NY, was held with his close family on May 12, 2013 to scatter his ashes near his favorite tree. A memorial of his life was held on Saturday, May 25, 2013, in the Javits Room, Frank Melville Memorial Library, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794. A memorial bench, with a plaque in his honor, was placed under three cherry trees outside of his department, Harriman Hall, at Stony Brook University. Other professional accomplishments below…

Hugh J. Silverman was awarded the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Art Theory and Cultural Studies at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (2010) and the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Humanities at the University of Vienna (2001). He was selected to be Distinguished Research Fellow at the Michael J. Osborne Centre for Advanced Study at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia (2008) and Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, Austria (1998). He has also received an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship (1981-82), a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, an MLA-ACLS Travel Grant (Brazil), several Fulbright Inter-country Travel Awards (Germany and the Netherlands), and numerous SUNY Faculty Research Fellowships and Faculty Professional Development Awards. In 1977, he was awarded the Recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1997, he was awarded a Rector’s Medal from the University of Helsinki, Finland. As Visiting Professor, Hugh J. Silverman has taught at universities in the US (Duquesne and New York University), UK (Warwick and Leeds), Italy (Torino and Rome II -Tor Vergata), France (Faculté des Lettres, Nice), Austria (Vienna and Klagenfurt), Finland (Helsinki and Tampere), Norway (Trondheim), Singapore (NUS) and Australia (Sydney and Hobart, Tasmania) and Estonia (Doctoral Baltic Philosophy Network, held at University of Tallinn). Hugh J. Silverman is listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World, Marquis Who’s Who in America, and the IBC 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the Twenty-first Century. The Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP) has twice devoted full sessions to his work, including a special Scholar’s Session (2003). The Gruppe Phänomenologie held a two-day workshop in Vienna on his book Textualities (in German translation) with various speakers writing on aspects of the book. Numerous radio, newspaper, and video interviews with Professor Silverman have been published or taken place in various locations (including US, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Australia, S. Korea, Taiwan, etc.). In many different countries, especially in Europe, articles and essays have been published on his work.


Hugh J. Silverman

have a memory or condolence to add?


March 25, 2015

Sorry for my late, but still very sincere condolences. Hugh was a mentor and friend for over 30 years. I was in one of his first classes at Stony Brook as an undergraduate-"The Artistic Consciousness" and he supervised my dissertation many years later.I learned much about postmodernism from Hugh and benefited from his introducing me to Men's Studies in the 1990s. My own founding of a center owes much to Hugh's pioneering work at IAPL. I remember years at Edmonton, Villanova especially well. Most important Hugh was a kind and generous man. Students always lined up outside his office and Hugh made sure to speak with everyone no matter how long it took. He was dedicated to helping students learn, succeed and thrive.May he rest in peace.
David seelow, Albany, New York

Nita de Oliveira

October 18, 2014

Professor Silverman was a great scholar, a captivating instructor and a real friend. I'll always remember the great time we had together in Brazil's Deep South in 1992. Hugh was a true Mensch and will be missed by many.
Nythamar "Nita" de Oliveira, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Mary Honan

April 25, 2014

Have mercy on the soul of Hugh Silverman. I had the honour of meeting Professor Silverman when he was the external examiner at my friend's successful Viva Voce (Ph.D) defense. He was an absolutely lovely man who gave me so much encouragement about my own Ph.D research into Holocaust inspired literature from the Child's perspective. I'm due to have my Viva Voce (Defense) soon and I thank him once again for making me feel that it was something I could achieve.

Lillian Burke

December 15, 2013

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Prof. Hugh J. Silverman. He was a gentleman. As the external examiner for my PhD in literary theory he awarded me the highest grade and the most sincere praise. Hugh Silverman changed my life. He came to Dublin to meet my team from Limerick. I remember we were all so excited and nervous about meeting him. Later we marvelled at how kind and genuine he was in person and the interest and enthusiasm he had for philosophy and literature. My viva voce lasted nearly five hours. He informed me afterwards that he held me that long because he was so interested in my topic of psychosis and deconstruction. I will never forget that day in Dublin. We were in touch a few times after that when he offered to publish my book and he invited me to IAPL conferences. The care and interest he had for people was beautiful. My thoughts are with his family. Thank you Hugh for changing the life of this Irish woman. You were a wonderful human being. I will always think of you. May you rest in peace. God bless.

Purushottama Bilimoria

November 3, 2013

I just came to learn of this sad news (been travelling). I am so very shocked and sorrowed. Hugh was a close friend, and remains so, and a mentor too; I worked him with him at Stony Brook and on IAPL over several years, reinforcing the comparative/cross-cultural thrust American philosophy is just beginning to be open to (far ahead in Australia and New Zealand and parts of Europe, even Ireland). We last saw each other in Melbourne, may have been July 2008, joint ("3-some") conference of AAP (Australasian), IAPL, and ASACP (Aistralasian Comparative Philosophy Society); it was a terrific conference and we had a great time there, as elsewhere during IAPL. Philosophical life for me will never be the same with the kind if leadership Hugh provided via IAPL and in other ways for me (he opened up many a connection for me and many others indeed). I need to contact Gerda, could someone plese pass on my phone number to her 6313351366 (Stony Brook number still!).

Tina Dornauf

September 6, 2013

Er war ein Men(t)sch, ein (Ehe)mann, ein Vater und Freund. Er war außergewöhnlich in seiner Freundlichlich einem jeden anderen Menschen gegenüber. Man konnte mit jedem Problem jederzeit zu ihm kommen.
Mein Sohn saß ein zweijähriger auf seinem Schoß in Kastelrutt. Dies wurde in einem Photo festgehalten. Später fertigte ich ein Kunstwerk, welches diese Szene wiedergibt. Gerne hätte ich ihm noch mitgeteilt, daß Ares (Sohn) diesen Sommer sein Abibac am Lycée Francais Victor Hugo machte. Es hätte ihn sehr gefreut.
In treuem Andenken und mit Gedanken des Mitgefühls Gerda, Christopher und Claire und der ganzen Familie gegenüber
Tina Dornauf
Frankfurt am Main, den 6. September 2013

Lisa Costa

August 9, 2013

I was your babysitter for a while when you were very young, and your parents were always so kind to me. I have only just found out about your father's passing. I am saddened and so very sorry. Please know that I have always remembered you and your family very fondly, and accept my sincere condolences.
Lisa Ihde Costa

Claire Goberman

July 9, 2013

Just a quick note to those who have written and check back and those who chose to write in the future. Your words and tributes mean so much to me personally. It is nice to read how my father touched other people's lives, thank you for taking the time to do so. Some of you I remember in person from years ago, others just in name from my father mentioning you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and memories.

Timothy Ryan

July 8, 2013

Hugh. . .i was stunned. . .when I found out. . .{July 2nd}. . .i miss you so much already. . .(I found out when I was trying to reconnect with you after 11 years. . .let me quote you and let you know. . .i am who I am because of you. . .as well as the man I will come to be. . .you made everything possible for me and I will dedicate what is to come from me in the future. . .to you as we'll. . .hopefully I have begun to learn that "The signs of the self are produced through the interpretation and maintained through the ongoing activity of interpretive experience. Self-knowledge. . .will depend upon careful understanding of signs in relation to one another." ("For a hermeneutic semiology of the self" closing essay of Inscriptions, 1987)

Gerard Greenway

July 4, 2013

We were proud to have Professor Silverman on the editorial board of Angelaki and very saddened to learn of his death. Angelaki 18.2, shortly to be published, has been dedicated to him.