Another year, in memoriam

December 22, 2010

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The holidays always have the potential to be a little overwhelming, and in the rush to welcome the latest trends and advances—quite notable this past year, from growing ebook audiences to newly digitized archives—occasionally we miss the opportunity to acknowledge the losses that have also defined our year.
We’d like to take a moment to reflect on the very recent passing of two members of the University of Chicago Press community.
Muzaffer Atac (1931-2010) was one of the founding scientists of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and longtime head of Fermi’s detector development group, all while working simultaneously as a physics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Dallas. In a career that spanned 40 years of service with the Department of Energy, Professor Atac played an integral role in the history relayed by Lillian Hoddeson, Adrienne W. Kolb, and Catherine Westfall’s Fermilab: Physics, the Frontier, and Megascience. Fermilab uses the backdrop of the cold war and captures the real human dramas played out by Atac and his colleagues at the cutting edge of science in the twentieth century (you can have a peek at Atac’s powerful legacy via a website devoted to the book here).
Across the ocean, we also mourn the loss of Press author and one of France’s leading scholars of Greek civilization and language, Jacqueline de Romilly (1913-2010). De Romilly was not only the first woman named a professor at the Collège de France, but also a lifelong champion of the humanities and a specialist on the historian Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War. In 1985, she authored A Short History of Greek Literature for the University of Chicago Press, which was translated by Lillian Doherty. De Romilly was the first woman elected to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and became only the second woman admitted to the Académie Française.
From the New York Times‘s obituary:

Her election to the Académie Française in 1988 came eight years after the election of the novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, the first woman admitted as an “immortal.” She seized on the occasion to argue for the value of literary culture, which she warned “may well be as endangered as the fauna of the oceans or the water of our rivers,” and the importance of classical languages.

Farewell to Professor Atac and Professor de Romilly, whose insights and accomplishments we’ll keep close at hand in the years to come. And farewell from the Chicago Blog to 2010. See you in the new year—

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