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Zoom Memorial: Gerhart Niemeyer

June 8, 2021

M E M O R A N D U M

DATE:    June 9, 2021

TO:        Niemeyer Students

FROM:   Dick Bishirjian

RE:        A Zoom Celebration of Gerhart Niemeyer 

This is a follow-up to an idea I’ve been kicking around for three years that a “Confab” with former students of Gerhart Niemeyer makes sense. Below I’m submitting the outline of a seminar along with a request that Niemeyer’s former students consider making presentations via Zoom.

I conducted two Zoom discussions, the most recent with two Notre Dame colleagues–Angelo Codevilla and Chris Manion–and I propose that we conduct a celebration of Gerhart via Zoom. 

Published essays on Niemeyer’s influence:

Gregory Wolfe, Discerning the Spirits. Gerhart Niemeyer as Culture Critic, Theimaginativeconservative, March 4, 2020.

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Wisdom of Humility: Gerhart Niemeyer’s Recovery of Political Theory” Political Science Reviewer, Fall, 2002, Vol. 31, No. 1.

Dr. Angelo Codevilla, “Thank You, Gerhart Niemeyer,” University Bookman, 5.5.2013

Dr. Robert Smith, “‘Love Divine’: Remembering Gerhart Niemeyer,” University  Bookman, 2.23.2014

Dr. John Willson, “Gerhart Niemeyer, Refugee,” The Imaginative Conservative, 1.30.2014

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Presence of a Teacher,” University Bookman, Spring 2008

Dr. John Gueguen, “A Student’s Teacher: Gerhart Niemeyer,” Political Science Reviewer, Fall,  1998 – Vol. 27, No. 1

Conservatism and Spiritual and Social Recovery, Richard Bishirjian, Voegelinview, October 25, 2018.

Program Concept: A Memorial Seminar

At a time of crisis in American higher education, former students of Gerhart Niemeyer are planning a seminar to memorialize his personal influence, his work and to give some attendees a space to address issues that represent Niemeyer’s influence.

In the mid-50s, Notre Dame was “home” to émigré scholars from East and Western Europe who were expelled from their countries during WW II. 

What was Europe’s loss was America’s and the University of Notre Dame’s gain and American scholarship was enriched by their presence. Waldemar Gurian, Eric Voegelin István Kertész, Gerhart Niemeyer and others on the Faculty from 1950-1970 “made” Notre Dame’s Government Department.

That time, also, was the beginning of the American conservative movement and Gerhart Niemeyer joined Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk and others in writing fortnightly columns in National Review. Even back then, that close an association with “conservatism” was frowned upon in Academe. Their students from that era, however, enriched scholarship, American politics and Catholic higher education.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, the Soviet Union threatened the United States with a “Cold War” and the American nation sought understanding of Communist Ideology.  Dr. Niemeyer met that need with a rigorous two semester course on Communist Ideology and important essays and publications about Soviet Communism.

A Civil Rights movement began to challenge inequalities imposed on African-Americans by slavery and post-Civil War Reconstruction and required steady and reasonable responses by activists, advocates of “States Rights” and the U.S. government. Stanley Parry and Gerhart Niemeyer developed a strategy for the Eisenhower Administration to address the demands for full civil rights of African Americans.

The recovery of ancient Greek philosophy had begun in the work of Bruno Snell, Werner Jaeger, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss, and Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in the recovery of that philosophy from modern ideology.

Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in all these developments in mid-Twentieth Century America and attracted generations of students who wanted to understand the crisis of their times and participate in recovery of political and personal order.

Proposed Schedule

    9:00    Prayer

    9:15     Niemeyer’s Analysis of Modern Ideology (Dr. Bill Miller)  

    10:15   Voegelin: Recovery of Classical Philosophy (Klaus Vondung)

    11:30    Toward Recovery of  American Culture (Dr. Richard Bishirjian)

    12:45 —  “My Colleague, Gerhart Niemeyer”

                Professor Walter Nicgorski

    1:45    Niemeyer, Notre Dame and the Catholic Church (Dr. Christopher Manion)  

    2:45     Niemeyer and Parry: the Civil Rights Movement (Howard Segermark)

    3:45    National Review and Modern Age (TBA)

    4:15    Niemeyer at Hillsdale College (Dr. John Willson)

    4:45    Gerhart Niemeyer: An Epitaph (Gregory Wolfe)

    4:45    Benediction       

Please text your reply to 757 639 0470 or send a message via e-Mail to academydl@gmail.com

Very truly yours,

Richard J. Bishirjian

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