At the University, she teaches courses on major figures of contemporary Latin American fiction (e.g. Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Manuel Puig, Juan Rulfo, Mario Vargas Llosa). She also teaches interdisciplinary courses, among them “The Culture and Literature of War” (with as guest lecturer a former special forces senior officer and UN genocide investigator); “The Discovery and Conquest of the New World” (cross-listed with History and Social Sciences), which reads this unique encounter through both 15-16th century original historical documents and 20th-century works of fiction; and “Science and Fiction,” which examines science in literature from Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo to Richard Powers’s The Gold Bug Variations to Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen.
Since 1992 Safir has been a member of the Centre des Recherches Interuniversitaire sur les Champs Culturels d’Amérique Latine (CRICCAL), Université de Paris, Sorbonne Nouvelle, and on its Bureau de direction. She was Associate Director of the International School of Theory in the Humanities from its founding in 1995 until 1999. She has organized international colloquia and conferences, including the month-long Special Plenary Series Science, Technology, and the Arts in Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1999) and AUP’s first President’s Conference, Language, Lies, and Ethics, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (2003). She sits on the organizing committee of the CRICCAL’s biannual international colloquium, and is currently coordinating AUP’s partnership with La Cité de la Réussite, Europe’s most important university forum, for its annual event at the Sorbonne (20,000 attendees). She has recently been elected to the Board of Governors of the Association of Yale Alumni, where her primary focus will be on long-range planning, graduate and professional schools, and international education.
I am Margie Arent from Rolling Road, now known as Margery Arent Safir and living in Paris. It is almost inconceivable to me that not one but two of us from that small area of Rollingwood ended up knowing Bob Wilson. The neighborhood was hardly a hot spot for avant garde theater, although you were always into theater.
I received my BA from Barnard (Columbia) and my PhD from Yale, with a stint as a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina for a year in-between. I have lived for decades in Paris, where I am Professor of Comparative Literature at The American University of Paris and for many years headed a research group at the Sorbonne. In 2007, I founded a nonprofit, multidisciplinary initiative in the arts (visual, literary, music, dance, film, issues of culture and society) called The Arts Arena, and we have put on some 100 events, all free of charge and open to the public. It's been great fun and very exciting, and it's in this context that I first met Bob Wilson, who is now on our board. (And yes, I did the book)
I have one son, Alexander, who was born and raised in Paris and attended Oxford. He now lives in Senegal with his Senegalese wife and their two small sons, and works for Google, specifically Android for emerging markets, which satisfies both his entrepreneurial side and his sense of doing something significant for Africa and other developing markets. He originally went to Senegal to found an NGO to help young people who had dropped out of the school system rediscover an appetite for learning.
Well, that should at least give you some sense of where I've been and what I've been up to since I left Rolling Road. It was really a delightful surprise to hear from you, and I wish you all the best for the 50th reunion. Should you ever find yourself in Paris, please do let me know and we can do our own reunion.
With warmest regards,