Remembering Gisela Brinker-Gabler

Image: Gisela Brinker-Gabler
Gisela Brinker-Gabler
Gisela Brinker-Gabler

November 18, 1944 – June 6, 2019

Gisela Brinker-Gabler, retired professor of comparative literature, died Thursday, June 6, 2019, in New York City. Throughout her career in academia, she touched the lives of hundreds of colleagues, students and friends, leaving a lasting impression that will not be forgotten.

Those who knew her and wish to leave their thoughts and memories about her are welcome to do so here.

Comments:


Nov. 18, 2019

Liebe Gisela! I still recall our conversation in German on Freud, and how excited you were with my work on Abstract Expressionism. And how you appreciated the embroidered stole from Pakistan - you always had an eye for beauty! Sie sind weg aber nicht von unseren Herzen. You are gone, but remain in our hearts. Mit freudlichen Grussen - Best, Tamkin.

- Tamkin Hussain


Nov. 17, 2019

Still in shock that we lost such a kind soul. Cannot overstate how much she did for me. From her classes to her counsel, such a remarkably caring and brilliant example of what a professor should be. Miss her so...

- David Kilpatrick


Oct. 31, 2019

In only a few hours, on November 1, your accomplishments will be lauded in the presence of your husband and son, your colleagues, former students, and friends on the campus where you inspired such a great number of us. During the moments your close friend and collaborator Sid Smith lauds your stellar scholarship and publications, I will light a candle in your honor in my home on Ecuador's coast, look out at the ocean, and thank you for your guidance, deep friendship and trust. You imprinted your warmth and kindness onto my life in more ways than I can say. You inspired me to be a kinder and more forgiving person toward others and myself. For this gift I will forever be grateful. Rest in peace my friend.

- Ingeborg Majer O'Sickey


Oct. 30, 2019

Dear Gisela,

I know that you have said your final Adieu, but I still feel the presence of your aura of light and grace. It was a privilege to be your colleague and friend for so many years. I admired your intellectual global leadership, your dedication to scholarship and to your your students, whom you proudly mentored, steering them into fields they could shine in, fellowships, publications and careers.

I appreciated the collaboration you fostered between departments.

Your departure has left a gap and a wound in the life of many of your friends, including mine. At the convention of the Council of European Studies in Reykjavik in 2020, a symposium will be held in your honor. Your friends at the CES, many of whom--like myself--joined because of your inspirational leadership in comparative cultural studies, will be there to honor you, presenting research you inspired. RIP.

With love and respect,

- Rosmarie Morewedge


Oct. 30, 2019

There are few people you meet in your life that truly change the course that you are on. But Gisela literally changed everything for me. I first met her when I was enrolled in her Transnational Modernism class eight or nine years ago. I was a deeply disillusioned creative writing grad student, committed to leaving Binghamton at the end of my first semester. However, Gisela's enthusiasm for her material and her students reminded me of my own love of literary studies. The passion that she exhibited in her teaching and through her work was utterly transfixing; I wanted to exude that very same unity of thought and passion in my own work and life. At the end of this fall semester, I left the English Department and re-enrolled at SUNY Binghamton as a doctoral student in Comparative Literature. Gisela inspired me to do so many things that I would never have even attempted without her support and guidance.

Last December, I finally defended my dissertation. I was shaking with anxiety as I reentered that very same conference room where I attended Gisela's graduate seminar years before. Yet, the moment I sat down and saw Giselaâ??s comforting smile, I recalled her enthusiasm with which she imbued her own lifeâ??s work and I suddenly felt like there was nothing to fear, that I was in the company of someone who sincerely cared about me, my life and my work.

As I have begun to work independently on research projects, I always recall something Gisela said in class one day: "I prefer to teach what I love and I am lucky to find work where I am constant contact with what I love. In my writing, in my research and in my teaching, I always replay this statement in my head as a challenge to myself, a confirmed curmudgeon. I think we should all aspire to be like Gisela in this way: To approach one's work as an act of love and devotion.

- Ross Lipton


Oct. 29, 2019

Professor Brinker-Gabler was and is my mentor about life. She was really more than someone I knew in a professional capacity. I lost a big supporter. I feel lucky to have gotten to know her in my first semester at Binghamton. It is an honor to have had the opportunity to learn from her and spend time with her. RIP.

- Seo Yeon Paik


Oct. 29, 2019

Dr. Brinker-Gabler was such a light. She was invested in her students, in their professionalization, and in them as people. With incredible warmth, she pushed her students to think more critically, to read closer, and to perform their scholarship more rigorously. She is one of the main reasons why I am in graduate school now, and I found my project -- my passion -- thanks to a class I took with her in undergrad. She is missed, dearly.

- Rebecca Forney


Oct. 29, 2019

Gisela was a member of my dissertation committee in Comp. Lit. She stepped on at the last moment when another committee member stepped off at the last moment. I was already a tenured faculty member when I earned my PhD-- a tricky business. Gisela was unfailingly kind, friendly, courteous, knowledgeable and generous to a fault-- in the end I felt blessed that things turned out as they did.

Just to be in her presence was a rare gift of calm and sanity. Later, when we had become almost-friends, I would admire the beautiful photographs she posted on Facebook. She was also the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in real life. I mean, she was dazzling. Her blue eyes, clear and rather dreamy, seemed to look at you from the soul openly, like a child's almost, without artifice. I learned not only from the particular resources, books, ideas etc she shared, but by the example she set. Since I already taught, she reminded me one can speak quietly but with authority; be gentle but strong; friendly but not overly-familiar; one can never be too kind.

Finally, a trivial memory. On my first visit to her office, I was nervous-- I had never met her , and here she had agreed to serve on my PhD committee. She offered me a chocolate she had brought back from I think Switzerland. She kept a small bowl of them on her desk, beautifully wrapped in foil. It was the most delicious piece of chocolate I've ever eaten-- my husband and I searched for that brand for years, without success.

May her memory be a blessing, and may her loved ones be comforted by her memory. May they have the courage of the strong, as she did.

- Liz Rosenberg


Oct. 29, 2019

Professor Brinker-Gabler was a wonderful professor who could convey such enthusiasm and insight for students writing their dissertation. She would always make time to discuss my research. She is a light who continues to shine bright in the sky among the literary scholars of our time.

- Deborah Spanfelner


Oct. 28, 2019

I am sure Gisela will be remembered for her stellar scholarship, her dedication to teaching and advising, as well as her service for the Department of Comparative Literature and Binghamton University. Although I am deeply saddened as I realize that I will never again see her around on the 15th floor of the Library Tower, what I miss the most is all those times in which, away from campus and the department, we were able to be good friends and laugh together over a good meal and a glass of wine. I miss her joie de vivre, her warmth, her optimism, her enthusiasm. I miss the way she used to call my name in her lovely accent. I shall cherish that for as long as I live. RIP, dear Gisela!

- Rosemary Arrojo


Oct. 28, 2019

Dear Gisela, I will never forget your personal and intellectual generosity, your flamboyant and upbeat presence, and your energetic forging of cross-Atlantic alliances. You made me feel at home in Binghamton and in the department of comparative literature. With your personal style you seemed to dance through life; I could feel the warmth radiating when you were in the house. Your research and teaching on modernism, feminism and autobiography never failed to garner enthusiastic response; I will continue to learn from your work. You are truly dearly missed for the dynamic woman you are. In loving memory, Jeroen

- Jeroen Gerrits


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