Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Peter Copek Papers, 1966-2001

Scope and Content Note

The Peter Copek Papers consist of a wide variety of materials that document specific components of Copek's life and work at Oregon State University. It is important to note that essentially all of the records held by the Special Collections & Archives Research Center that directly relate to Copek's leadership of the OSU Center for the Humanities have been arranged into the Center for the Humanities Records (RG 221).

In the main, the Copek Papers focus on Copek's scholarly interests in literature and film, his contacts with numerous colleagues, his instructional endeavors, and his contributions to departmental and committee affairs at OSU.

The collection, in Series I, also holds a thorough record of Copek's employment by Oregon State University, including documents indicating advancement in his pay and rank; reviews of his performance in instruction, scholarship and administration; and more than a decade's worth of daily planners that outline his meetings and other obligations over time. Examples of Copek's scholarship and, especially, his teaching are arranged into Series II and III. His participation in OSU committee work, in the day-to-day affairs of the OSU English department, and in the deliberations of the university's College of Liberal Arts are likewise held in Series IV.

A strength of the collection is its assemblage of three series worth of subject files, one each devoted to colleagues (Series V), film studies (Series VI) and literary figures (Series VII). Generally speaking, the subject files may include correspondence, typescripts, notes, and published articles, and document Copek's engagement with his peers, his exploration of topics in literature (mostly 19th and 20th century British authors) and film, and the weekly offerings of OSU's International Film Series. Series VI also includes a handful of film stills of Charlie Chaplin and other actors in numerous films. Series VII holds a sampling of Copek's writing contemporary to his graduate school years at Northwestern University.

The papers are rounded out, in Series VIII, by a grouping of audio-visual materials, including reel-to-reel tapes, audiocassettes and one VHS tape. A highlight of this series is a recording, on seven reel-to-reel tapes, of a symposium hosted by OSU in 1974 that focused on the idea of community in Oregon. The event featured a number of notable speakers, including Mark Hatfield, Ken Kesey, Studs Terkel and William Appleman Williams, who served as moderator.


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