When Class of 1916 Professor Emeritus M. H. "Mike" Abrams turned 100 on July 23, 2012, his life was celebrated in a major event at Cornell University, commemorated on this website. "His passing is a deep loss to the College of Arts and Sciences and to all of us who love literature," says Gretchen Ritter '83, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
One of the most distinguished scholars ever to teach at Cornell, Professor Abrams was the author of The Mirror and the Lamp, named one of the 100 most important works of non-fiction of the 20th century by the Modern Library, and was the founding editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature. In 2012, W. W. Norton published a new book by Abrams, The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays.
Celebrating 100 Years
On July 23, Meyer Howard 'Mike' Abrams is born in Long Branch, New Jersey.1912
Titanic sails her maiden voyage.
Enters Harvard University, choosing to become an English major because "there weren't jobs in any other profession, so I thought I might as well enjoy starving, instead of starving while doing something I didn't enjoy."1930
Pluto is discovered.
Graduates from Harvard and wins a Henry fellowship to the University of Cambridge. After a year at Cambridge, he returns to Harvard to complete grad school and his Ph.D.1934
Abrams' senior thesis Milk of Paradise is published.
The Apollo Theater opens.
After finishing his Ph.D, Abrams begins work with the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, helping develop the current phonetic alphabet used by international military forces.1940
Europe is at war.
Begins his teaching career at Cornell University, starting out as an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He will spend the next 67 years teaching in the College--61.5% of the time that the College has existed.1945
The United Nations is founded.
Promoted to full professor; the Mirror and the Lamp is published. In 1999, the book was ranked No. 25 in a list of "the 100 Best Nonfiction Books Written in English during the 20th Century"1953
Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.
A Glossary of Literary Terms is published.1957
International Atomic Energy Agency is formed by U.N.
Becomes the first Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature; in 1973, he succeeds to the Class of 1916 Professorship.1960
Israeli soldiers capture Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires.
Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.1963
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a Dream" speech.
Norton Anthology of English Literature
Edits the first seven editions (1962-2000) of one of the most well-known academic anthologies.
Elected into the American Philosophical Society and publishes Natural Supernaturalism.1971
The New York Times publishes "The Pentagon Papers."
Retires as a full-time professor at Cornell University, becoming a professor emeritus, which he remains to this day.1983
Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space.
The Correspondent Breeze: Essays in English Romanticism is published; Abrams becomes the second recipient of the Award in Humanistic Studies, given by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.1984
AT&T phone monopoly split up into 7 "Baby Bells."
Abrams is given the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Keats-Shelley Society.1987
Tower Commission probes the Iran-Contra affair.
Abrams is elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.1988
MIT launches first computer worm distributed via the Internet.
East and West Germany are reunited.
Abrams is awarded the Award for Literature by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.1990
Nelson Mandela released from prison after 27 years.
Cornell Big Red football team names Abrams honorary co-captain.2007
Apple introduces the iPhone.
Plaque erected in Bartels Hall to honor Abrams' attendance at every home football game since 1945.2011
NBA lockout delays start of season.
Abrams celebrates his 100th birthday with the publication of his eighth book, The Fourth Dimension of a Poem.2012
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee.
The Fourth Dimension of a Poem
With a Foreword by Harold Bloom
A new collection of essays by the legendary literary scholar and critic.
In the year of his one-hundredth birthday, preeminent literary critic, scholar, and teacher M. H. Abrams brings us a collection of nine new and recent essays that challenge the reader to think about poetry in new ways. In these essays, three of them never before published, Abrams engages afresh with pivotal figures in intellectual and literary history, among them Kant, Keats, and Hazlitt.
M.H. Abrams in the News
- English professor Mike Abrams fêted at 100th birthday bash, Cornell Alumni Magazine
- The Centarian Scholar, Inside Higher Ed
- The Last Critic Turns 100, Tablet
- Cornell's M.H. Abrams marking 100th birthday with book release, celebration, Ithaca Times
- Cornell celebrates 100-year-old literary scholar M.H. Abrams, Ithaca Journal
- Cornell to fete M.H. 'Mike' Abrams as he turns 100, Cornell Chronicle
- Faculty reflect on the legacy of M.H. Abrams, Cornell Chronicle