Remembering M. H. Abrams

Cornell University Press joins with the rest of the Cornell community, Ithaca, and scholars of literature around the world in mourning the death of M. H. Abrams, Class of 1916 Emeritus Professor of English, at the age of 102. A 2014 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Abrams was best known for his long career teaching at Cornell, where his students included Harold Bloom and Thomas Pynchon, and for editing the Norton Anthology of English Literature. For this last accomplishment many of us owe him a particular debt of gratitude; his efforts afforded us, even in pre-Internet days, the great luxury of keeping centuries’ worth of literature always at hand.

New York TimesM.H. Abrams, 102, Dies; Shaped Romantic Criticism and Literary ‘Bible’; Keeper of the Canon

Cornell ChronicleM.H. Abrams, beloved professor, literary scholar, dies at 102

The GuardianMH Abrams, Norton anthology founder, influential critic, dead at age 102

On the Cornell University Press Facebook page, the Press’s Editor in Chief, Peter Potter, wrote: “We at Cornell University Press are greatly saddened to hear the news of Professor Abrams’s passing. Without a doubt he is one of the most influential scholars ever to teach at Cornell. Just this summer I was speaking with a colleague from another university about the study of Romanticism, and, without skipping a beat, he singled out The Mirror and the Lamp as one of the best books still for those who want to understand the Romantics. How many scholars can say that about a book they published 60 years ago! We at the Press were fortunate to have his support and counsel. Shortly after his arrival at Cornell in 1945, he served on the Press’s editorial board, and he remained a trusted advisor thereafter. He will be sorely missed.”

Abrams’s term on the Cornell University Press editorial board stretched from 1947 to 1951. Later, he served on the advisory board for the Cornell Wordsworth. Jared Curtis, coordinating editor of both the Cornell Wordsworth and the Cornell Yeats, says of Abrams’s role in making the Cornell Wordsworth a reality:

“Mike was not only involved in the Cornell Wordsworth project from the very beginning as a colleague of general editor Stephen Parrish, but he also taught a good many of those who planned (John A. Finch), edited (James Averill, Paul Betz, Jim Butler, Jared Curtis, Beth Darlington, Kristine Dugas, Joe Kishel), and ultimately brought the series to a successful conclusion. His steady, wise, and generous counsel to all editors for the project contributed hugely to the great sense of collegiality and common cause among all those contributing to it. I can’t imagine the series achieving the standing it has in the world of Wordsworth scholarship without Mike’s inspiring presence and always helpful guidance.”

In 1981, the Press published High Romantic Argument: Essays for M. H. Abrams, edited by Lawrence Lipking, which features Abrams’s reply to essays by six distinguished contributors who explore important critical questions related to Abrams’s work and its implications. Abrams also contributed chapters to other books published by Cornell University Press, including In Search of Literary Theory and Romanticism and Contemporary Criticism.

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From Development to Dictatorship Wins Thomas McGann Award

From Development to Dictatorship: Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era by

Thomas C. Field Jr. is the winner of the Thomas McGann Award given by the Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies.

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Honorable Mention for Zoned in the USA

 Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation by Sonia A. Hirt has won Honorable Mention for the Best Book in Urban Affairs Award (Urban Affairs Association)

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Susan Greenhalgh’s letter to the editor in the New York Times

Susan Greenhalgh, author of Fat-Talk Nation: The Human Costs of America’s War on Fat, responded to an article in the New York Times, “The Problem With ‘Fat Talk'” with a March 24, 2015 letter to the editor: “‘Fat Talk’ Damages People and Society”

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Andrew Mertha interviewed by the New York Times

Andrew Mertha, author most recently of Brothers in Arms: Chinese Aid to the Khmer Rouge, 1975–1979, was interviewed on the New York Times Sinosphere blog on March 30, 2015: China is Urged to Confront Its Own History

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Voices in the Band in the New York Times

Voices in the Band: A Doctor, Her Patients, and How the Outlook on AIDS Care Changed from Doomed to Hopeful by

Susan C. Ball  was reviewed in the New York Times on March 30, 2015: A World Shared With H.I.V. ”

“More than any doctor who has written about AIDS, Dr. Ball movingly parses out the mixed emotions accompanying the weird descent from providing transcendent medical care back to doing more ordinary work. Now we can save our patients; back then, we could care for them. Let the philosophers of medicine explain that one.”

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Recent Award Winners

The Next Crash: How Short-Term Profit Seeking Trumps Airline Safety by Amy L. Fraher is Winner of a Silver Medal, 2015 Axiom Business Book Awards (Business Commentary) (The Jenkins Group)

The Specter of “the People”: Urban Poverty in Northeast China by Mun Young Cho is Winner of the Anthony Leeds Prize in Urban Anthropology (Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association)

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