Ihab Hassan
{ "" }
Share Ihab's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
1925 - 2015
IHAB HASSAN, "The Father of Postmodernism" dies at 89 in Milwaukee, WI.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Ihab Hassan followed the path that many bright young Egyptians took in the first half of this century: he came to the United States and trained to become an engineer and in 1948 he earned his MS in that field at the University of Pennsylvania. Yet he continued on at Penn, changing his field to something that spoke to him more deeply than did engineering. He studied literature, and earned two degrees in English--an MA in 1950 and a PhD in 1953.

After a brief period teaching at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hassan moved to Wesleyan University, where he taught from 1954-1970. Since 1970, he has been the Vilas Research Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee till his retirement in 1999. He wrote 15 books and more than 300 articles on literature and culture.

In the mid- to late 1960s, a dramatic shift occurred in the way people began talking and writing about literature, but there really was no name for it. Ihab Hassan named it postmodernism - a change from modernist writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to literature characterized by different narrative techniques used by Thomas Pynchon and Toni Morrison - and the term stuck.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee English professor published a paper in 1971 that outlined the development of modernism and postmodernism literature with a now-famous chart. "It was a map that people used when grappling with how to categorize modernism and postmodernism. It's still useful. I taught it in my undergraduate theory survey," said Jason Puskar, associate professor of English at UWM.

He "is arguably the most famous professor in the history of UWM," said Dave Clark, associate dean of humanities. "Now this is coming from the humanities dean, of course. But he's an incredibly well-known international figure, widely credited with coining the current contemporary use of the term postmodernism."

Donations in ongoing support of the work of Ihab Hassan may be made through www.IhabHassanTrust.org or mailed to: P.O. Box 242236, Milwaukee, WI 53224

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times from Oct. 12 to Oct. 13, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
7 entries
October 20, 2015
Thanks for this very sad news. Ihab touched our lives; genial , witty , smart , amiable , counterintuitive. I am honoured to have known him and to have been instructed by him; my heart goes out to those who were closer to him .
I will be in touch again later , to see if there is something we can do through the journal Thesis Eleven by way of honouring his memory. With respect and affection.
Professor Peter Beilharz
Emeritus Professor
La Trobe University
Bundoora Victoria 3086
Peter Beilharz
October 19, 2015
We're so sorry to hear of Ihab's passing and send you our deepest-felt condolences. In 2012, he submitted for consideration his brilliant short-short story The Wound', which we published in the October issue of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazines. Little did Ihab know that we were already fans of his writing: his The Literature of Silence informed our understanding of Beckett when we were undergraduates.

We've subsequently published Ihab in other issues of the magazine and recently had a submission by him for a book we're planning, Funny Bone, an anthology of flashes to be sold in aid of the charity Comic Relief. We look forward to publishing yet another brilliant very short story by Ihab.

With our very best wishes,
Drs Ashley Chantler and Peter Blair
Editors, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine
University of Chester, UK
Editors of Flash Short Story Magazine
October 19, 2015
Dear Geoffrey and Sally,

We here at UC Irvine were sorry to hear the news of your father and husband's passing. Professor Hassan's papers are a treasured part of the Critical Theory Archive and we were honored to have received additional materials directly from him as recently as June 2015.

Professor Hassan's work was featured in our recent exhibit on the history and impact of critical theory, as well as a conference held by the School of Humanities on the future of critical theory. His influence as a scholar has been celebrated here at Irvine and certainly in the international academic community.

Please accept our heartfelt condolences and know that Professor Hassan's legacy continues here and will be accessible for future generations of scholars in the Critical Theory Archive. The Ihab Hassan Papers are described in the Online Archive of California and are open for research. A permanent link to the collection description is available at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf296nb11c/; please feel free to share with friends and family. I hope to have the privilege of showing you the collection in person someday.

University of California, Irvine Libraries
University Archivist
October 18, 2015
I just attended a conference in Connecticut, not far from Wesleyan University in Middletown, where I first met your father and husband in 1970 as a student. I actually relived in memory on this occasion the good times I had at Wesleyan and the course I took on Contemporary American Literature by the famous professor Ihab Hassan. And I remembered how difficult it was to be admitted to his course. I think he made an exception for me as a foreign student. I was looking forward to talking to him tomorrow on his 90th birthday. The sad news you sent us tells me that I am too late and that I lost a great teacher, an excellent critic and a very good friend of many years. I would like to send you both my sincere condolences on Ihab's death. It is hard to believe that such a vigorous man and restlessly active mind has passed away. I hope that you will be able to cope with this great loss. We as your friends can only express our great gratitude to Ihab's generosity, admirable hospitality and unending friendship in perfect union with you Sally over all those years. One of the many remarkable books that Ihab wrote was The Literature of Silence, it refers to works which are more expressive in their absence of words than exuberant prose. Ihab's unfortunate silence likewise will continue to be our inspiration.
Beate and Alexander join me in sending you our sincere condolences,

Prof. Dr. Alfred Hornung
Chair, American Studies
Department of English & Linguistics
Johannes Gutenberg University
Alfred Hornung
October 18, 2015
I am heartbroken by this news. Ihab has and this is a great privilege with which I flatter myself become a dear friend over the years. His scholarly contributions to our conference in Muenster have been outstanding and will last in its published form. The Festschrift I had the pleasure to edit for him has shown, once again, the massive impact he has had on Western Thought and Scholarship. Ihab has been one of those colleagues and friends who have made life so much richer. The loss is irreplaceable and we in Muenster will certainly have to learn to live with this gap left by Ihab. We will treasure the memory of the visits we have had of you, Sally, and Ihab.
If you can, do stay in touch.
With the deepest sympathy

Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer
Chair of British Studies
Englisches Seminar
Johannisstr. 12-20
D-48143 Münster
Klaus Stierstorfer
October 18, 2015
We are so so sorry to hear this news. Sally, please, our deepest and most genuine condolences. We so clearly and vividly remember fondly all of our encounters and dinners with Ihab and you. And as recently as 2011 it was such a pure delight to visit you both in Milwaukee during the winter, to speak at UWisconsin. And the talks he gave at my university here in Melbourne.

Ihab was deeply, deeply generous and his friends in Australia loved him dearly for the fiercely intelligent, curious, deeply insightful interventions he made in our lives, oddly enough late in his own extraordinarily rich life.

We will always miss him. I don't so much think of him in connection with postmodernism as much as an exemplar of deep and profound cosmopolitanism.

With love from Lyndell and me.Charles Green
Charles Greene
October 14, 2015
Hi, Ihab, could you still hear me? Still remember me, a Fulbright scholar from Beijing Normal University, who came to you, in Feb. 1992 for the help of the completion of his translation of your Postmodern Turn? I am sad that you are gone at this juncture, when you might have seen the appearance of the new revised translation of your book, but, unfortunately you could not. Over 20 years passed since you and Sally received me at your Milwaukee lakeside house, and unforgettable scenes you talked to me on Postmodernism and other topics, your seminars I attended at your house, etc. are looming larger now like yesterday. The first Chinese edition of your book published at Taipei 20 years ago was a great help to Chinese scholars and readers who would know something about postmodern literature and culture, and its new Shanghai Wenjing edition is no doubt a proof that your book is still needed today by Chinese academic fields and common readers. I am fully confident that readers must go back to your book if they want to know the whatness and whenceness of Postmodernism. With this confidence, I pray your soul rest peacefully and happily in paradise, and my condolences go to your loved wife and son. Xiangyu Liu, Beijing Normal Univ.
Xiangyu Liu
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences