IMAGE:  December 2002 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
 
DECEMBER 2002
Volume 95, Issue 2
 
 
   
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"Now that the joke has been had..."

An editor of note
As one who, by chance, was there at the beginning of Doug Mitchell's association with the University of Chicago Press, I was pleased to read of his recognition for 25 years as an editor there ("Editor's Notes," October/02). Back in 1964, when he and I were both third-year students in the College, a clean-shaven Mitchell invited me to tag along as he traversed the quadrangles, crossed Ellis Avenue, and walked confidently into what were then the offices of the Press-in the red-brick building now housing the bookstore. Under his arm he carried galley proofs of a forthcoming title from the Press, authored by a U of C professor. His hope was to submit a review of the work. Doug tells me that the gentleman who welcomed us into his office would later become a close colleague. Though apparently nothing ever came of that project, the story hints at the devoted editor to come, long before the accretion of the Darwinian beard.

It also suggests a possible explanation of the reference made to Mitchell's range of interests being "as phenomenal as the number of titles he has shepherded." We were both a part of a fortunate group of students who benefited from a generalist education received at Chicago: first in the core curriculum and then as students in the Committee on Ideas and Methods in the last years of its influence under Richard McKeon. A scholar who eluded nominal academic classification, McKeon provided his students with an ingenious and highly complex schematic approach to learning that encouraged the vigorous study of ideas, in a variety of texts, across disciplines, with the hope of discovering both shared and differing conceptual and methodological qualities. Doug Mitchell grasped this approach as well, or better, than any of us; furthermore, he seems to have put it to good use in his editorial shepherding.

David Snodgrass, AB'65, AM'77
Lakeland, Florida


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