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Karen Brazell

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Karen Brazell Obituary
Brazell, Karen

Karen Brazell, age 73, of Ithaca, passed away on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Karen has been one of the world's foremost scholars of Japanese literature and theater, an innovator in digital humanities, and a strong force as a faculty member at Cornell University. Her many published volumes, including the National Book Award Prize winner, The Confessions of Lady Nijo, fascinated when written and continue to be used to this day. At Cornell she provided visionary institutional leadership for Cornell's Asian Studies Department and East Asia Program. As the chair of the Department of Asian Studies from 1977 to 1982 she founded the Japanese Studies doctoral program while strengthening the department's place within humanities at the University. She also served as the Director of the East Asia Program from 1987 to 1991, establishing the well-regarded Cornell East Asia Series of publications. Amongst numerous University services she served on the Cornell Board of Trustees as a faculty member from 1979 to 1983, and throughout has been a tireless promoter of cultural breadth in the curriculum. Equally ground-breaking was her conceptualization of GLOPAC as a multilingual digital archive for global performance traditions, launched when such endeavors were in their infancy. Department, Program, and University, and even the World Wide Web, owe much to her peerless savvy and determination as an institution-builder. In Ithaca Karen has been just as much of a force. She has been an avid supporter of the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance and a continual audience member and supporter of local theater endeavors. Karen is the daughter of the late Charles and Jo Woodard. Karen is survived by her children, Stephen (Erika) Brazell of Waldwick NJ, Katherine (Dennis) Rivera of Westampton NJ, Peter (Wendy) Gibian of Montreal Canada, Steve (Thresa) Gibian of Ithaca, Mark (Marcy) Gibian of Brooklyn NY, Greg (Gina Jackson) Gibian of Ithaca, Lauren (Paul) of Nairobi Kenya, John Fitchen of Colorado, and Kate (Alec) Nisbet of Montana; sisters, Barbara Wright of Kalamazoo MI, Judi (Robert) Findsen of Scottsdale AZ; 18 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by Husbands George Gibian and Doug Fitchen both of Ithaca, and Sylvia Fitchen of New Mexico. Memorial Service will be Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at Kendall of Ithaca. Memorial donations may be made to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, 612 West State St., Ithaca NY 14850.

Published in Ithaca Journal from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23, 2012
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