Joseph M. Levine: 1933-2008

By Kelley, Donald R. | Journal of the History of Ideas, July 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Joseph M. Levine: 1933-2008


Kelley, Donald R., Journal of the History of Ideas


Joseph M. Levine, Distinguished Professor of History at Syracuse University, died after several months of ill health, working on his most recent project. Educated at Cornell, Joe received his M. A. and Ph.D. at Columbia University. He taught at Queens College of the City University of New York, Columbia University, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, and finally Syracuse University, where he rose to full and then distinguished professor and chair (1995-97). In the early 1960s he took time out to form the "Ellis Island Committee" whose purpose was to found a new university, which gathered considerable support, including that of Eleanor Roosevelt, before the U. S. Government withdrew its backing. On the committee were a number of younger scholars, including Joe's wife-to-be Dee Dee, Leonard Leeb, and myself.

Joe began his graduate training in Garrett Mattingly's seminar at the Columbia University Department of History, in 1955, beginning with a study of English historiography "from Caxton to Camden." Among his colleagues were Stuart Prall, Martin Pine, Leonard Leeb, Richard Goldthwaite, and myself. Changing his plans to write a general survey of humanism and history in England, Joe turned to early modern antiquarianism and specifically to the great theme of Ancients and Moderns in early modern culture. He spent much time in England, especially at the British Museum and the British Library, where he had an almost unique access to the stacks. He spent time with many friends and colleagues there, including Charles Schmitt, Constance Blackwell, Quentin Skinner, and myself. He had already begun collecting his magnificent library specializing in early modern Europe. …

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