MacArthur Fellows Program

Irving Howe

Literary and Social Critic | Class of 1987

Literary and Social Critic
New York, New York
67 at time of award
May 5, 1993
Published July 1, 1987

About Irving's Work

Irving Howe was a literary and social critic whose work was committed to the principles of moderation, rationality, and civility.

A large part of Howe’s research and writing centered around Yiddish-American culture and the editing and translation of otherwise unavailable stories and poems.  He received the National Book Award for his widely influential work, World of Our Fathers (1976), which presents a historical, cultural, and social interpretation of the migration of East European Jews to the United States.  His works include Socialism and America (1977; rev. 1985); Beyond the Welfare State (1982); A Margin of Hope: An Intellectual Autobiography (1982); 1984 Revisited: Totalitarianism in Our Century (1983); The American Newness: Culture and Politics in the Age of Emerson (1986); The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse (co-edited, 1988); Selected Writings 1950-1990 (1991); and A Critic’s Notebook (1994).


Howe retired in 1986 as a Distinguished Professor of Literature from the City University of New York.  An articulate and relentless opponent of dictatorship of both the left and the right, he was the founder and editor of Dissent, a democratic socialist quarterly.

Howe received a B.Sc. (1940) from the City University of New York, City College. 

Last updated January 1, 2005

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