This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. Photo credit: © Bob Adelman. Arien Mack, circa 1979, Bob Adelman photograph collection, NA.0014.01, box 4, folder 18, New School Archives and Special Collections, The New School, New York, New York.

James Miller [JM]: Let’s start at the beginning. What year did you come to The New School for Social Research?

Arien Mack [AM]: 1966. I had just gotten my Ph.D.

JM: At that time, how much did you know about the legacy, the traditions of The New School? Did you know anything at all about its journal, Social Research, when you first arrived?

AM: I knew nothing about the journal. Probably not a lot about the legacy. I don’t remember knowing anything at all. What I did know was that the man with whom I got my PhD (in the study of perception), Irvin Rock, had taught at The New School. I think he had been chairman of the department at some point. So I knew about him. But I don’t think I knew a thing about Social Research, or the University in Exile[1].

JM: Very early on, astonishingly early, you were tapped by the dean of the graduate faculty to take over editing Social Research. Can you tell me how that happened? Because at a certain point, you had to be introduced to what the journal was, what its current conditions were, and what the dean wanted.

AM: I came in 1966. Four years later, Joe Greenbaum, who was then dean, called me into his office and asked me if I was interested, or would be willing to edit the journal. It was totally shocking. I vaguely remember Leon [Festinger, a senior colleague in psychology] being in Joe Greenbaum’s office with me, telling me I shouldn’t do it, because how could I also run a lab?

But Hannah Arendt, who was then on the faculty, came to visit me in my office. She encouraged me to take the position, telling me that it would change my life. And she was certainly right about that. It was quite generous of her to come and encourage me, particularly since I was, at the time this was happening, married to Irving Howe[2], and Irving Howe and Hannah were no longer friends. In fact, Hannah was very angry at Irving, because Irving had organized a Dissent meeting, which was a quite well-attended meeting, in which Hannah’s Eichmann book was roundly attacked by many well-known New York intellectuals, among them Meyer Shapiro[3].

Anyhow, Hannah was lovely to come and encourage me.

I also remember when I called my father in his office to tell him [I’d been offered the job of editing Social Research], he said to me, “Well, dear, that’s really nice, but it must be because you’re married to Irving.” I mean, I loved my father. It wasn’t as if I was deeply wounded. In fact, I thought he was probably right, to be perfectly honest.

Anyway, once I said yes, Joe Greenbaum gave a party in his house, which was a wonderful brownstone, which The New School idiotically sold, along with other houses on the block of 12th Street, next to The New School. They sold it for very little, and had they remained the owners, they would have had a huge endowment from the sale — or use — of those buildings.

In any case, Joe gave a party, and at the party, he gave a toast and said something like the following: “The reason I decided to invite her to be editor is because she was the prettiest woman on the faculty.”

And that was horrifying to me. Even at the time, I remember wanting to just disappear. I was totally embarrassed and uncomfortable and unhappy about that.

But that’s the story of how it happened. Peter Berger[4] had been editing the journal, and Peter was leaving The New School. That’s when it opened up. So I started to look at the journal, and was deeply distressed at what I found, because I was completely overwhelmed by the mediocrity of what was in it, and I thought, “Oh my God. How am I going to do this?” Now, the truth of the matter is that the fact that I was married to Irving at the time was a help. Through him, I was connected to New York intellectual life.

And I realized very quickly that there wasn’t a ghost of a chance of putting together an issue, let alone four issues a year, based on what was coming in unsolicited. It was really the bottom of the barrel. It was stuff that, you know, assistant professors or associate professors needing tenure would just send in, in a hope that they would have a publication.

So the fact that I was sort of familiar with the kind of intellectual world and the people in it, made it possible for me to write to them, and they would know who I was, even if all they knew was that I was married to Irving. But at least they knew something, and it led some of them to agree to write [for Social Research].

JM: How much were you aware of the way that Irving ran Dissent, how he functioned as an editor? I mean, one of the interesting things about the New York intellectuals is how many of them actually were editors or had been editors, or who loved the smell of ink on their hands, as Dan Bell[5] once said to me.

AM: That’s true.

JM: And they loved the idea that they were mediators of knowledge, a conduit between specialized social scientific knowledge and a broader public, and many of them had specific political views they wanted to publicize. So, how much were you aware of Irving’s work as an editor at that point?

AM: Well, I knew quite a lot about his editing, because Irving worked all the time. When he wasn’t writing, he was editing. I had young kids at the time, and we would go to the beach in Truro on Cape Cod where we spent summers and I still do, and he would sit under an umbrella editing manuscripts while I was being a mother, and making sure that my children didn’t drown.

JM: It sounds like there was a real tension between the editorship, mothering, and running a psychology lab. It’s a tough place to be in.

AM: Well, it wasn’t… I mean, one of the things that I learned from Irving early on, and for which I’ve always been grateful —  I’m grateful to Irving for a lot of things, even though it’s a marriage I left; we remained close friends, as long as he was alive, he taught me what it meant to work. Because Irving literally worked all the time. I mean, even at the beach, he was editing or marking up something.

So, I knew a lot about that. I knew that there were Dissent meetings, where they would discuss the issues of the day. I knew the politics of Dissent. I knew a fair amount about the editing of Dissent, by just watching Irving do it. And he was an extraordinary editor.  He used his pen like a carving knife. He was able to whittle a verbose text into much crisper prose. A talent I certainly didn’t share with him, but I certainly saw what a good editor could do. And I knew that and I knew the Dissent world. I also knew some of the people in that word, like Danny Bell, Dick Hofstadter, Harold Rosenberg, and Dwight McDonald[6], and people who were editing, like Nat Glazer[7].

JM: And Irving Kristol.

AM: Irving Kristol was our neighbor. We lived in the same building in NYC.  And our kids were about the same ages so I knew Billy Kristol when he was a boy.

JM: It’s pretty clear that if you’re in that kind of a milieu, you begin to pick up certain styles of thinking, and also come to know a bit about what the profession of editing a journal is like, how much work it takes. If you’re looking at a manuscript that’s been completely marked up, you can see what a real editor does. In my experience, many academics don’t want to know about that kind of editing: the kind of editing you have to do, if you want a piece to be accessible to a non-specialist.

But do you think Joe Greenbaum had any sense that by choosing you, he had the potential to change and modify what Social Research had been in the past because you represented this New York intellectual milieu? Or was it just happenstance?

AM: No. I think he knew. Well, what he knew was that, for one thing, I wasn’t a sociologist. The person who wanted to be editor, I was told, was Arthur [Vidich].

JM: A sociologist, like Peter Berger.

AM: It would have been more of the same, probably less good than when Peter [Berger] was editing it. And I think Joe wanted to make a change. He certainly knew he was taking a risk. I also think it was an easier risk to take because he knew the world I was in. I mean, it wasn’t such a jump off the cliff. But to me, it seemed like it. At the time I thought, “This is crazy.”

JM: When I was preparing to talk to you, I went back and looked at some early issues of Social Research, and I was sort of dumbfounded at the tension that was built in at the founding of the journal.

AM: Oh, when it was started in ’34?

JM: Yes. For the first issue, the then president of The New School, Alvin Johnson, writes this kind of florid introduction, saying how the journal is going to speak to a general audience, a broad public. It’s clear what his ambition was. On the other hand, the editorial board, to start with, was every single member of the New School graduate faculty, working as a collective. Which, you know, is a recipe for disaster, for any publication to be collectively run. And in those very early years, there’s clearly a tension between the vision of Alvin Johnson, and the very scholarly, often dry material that’s being published by the faculty. So, there’s this interesting, built-in tension to Social Research.

At what point did you realize that Johnson had wanted Social Research to be more of a general interest publication?

AM: Alvin Johnson was not somebody I ever knew. I didn’t really pay much attention to what he had done until much later when I finally looked at the early issues. This sounds crazy and sounds dumb, and it probably was dumb.

JM: No. It’s what a scientist would do. Most scientists I know don’t care about history. They just care about the cutting edge of their research.

AM: Well, for whatever reason, I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the journal’s history, until I started trying to put together anniversary issues, about the past of Social Research.

JM: And that’s when you discovered and reprinted, Alvin Johnson’s 1934 mission statement in the first issue of Social Research?

AM: That’s right. Of course, there were people on the faculty who were available to me, who knew more about the journal’s history. One was Bob Heilbroner, who was on the editorial board, and the other was Hannah [Arendt]. I mean, you couldn’t do better. You couldn’t have better people who cared about writing, cared about what was going on in the world, and who were really smart, and also very articulate. And Bob, in particular, was a very strong ally and a very good friend.

JM: He was a remarkable human being, particularly because of the finesse with which he broached very large topics with a very light literary touch. I remember teaching one of his books, An Inquiry Into the Human Prospect when I was just starting out as a teacher. And then I got to meet him because he was still there when I joined the board of Social Research in 1993. 

AM: He was there.

JM: It was a privilege to meet him in that context, certainly. Did you ever edit Hannah?

AM: No, never. Sometimes I would show what Hannah wrote to Irving. And if there were English issues, of course, they were edited out. But did I ask her to change, or add a conclusion, or make any point more clearly? Never.

JM: Still, you published pieces by her.

AM: We published her. I was grateful that she would give pieces to me. Even after she died, and we were able to publish Hannah even long after she had died because of the generosity of my friend Jerry Kohn, who was her student and trustee of the Hannah Arendt Bluecher Literary Trust. One thing I can tell you. If you have a paper of Hannah’s, you will sell out the issue. She became more famous after she died, I think, than she was while she was alive.

JM: Our mutual friend Jerry Kohn[8] once said to me that the strange thing about Hannah is that her English was terrible, so she always had to have very good editors.

AM: Mary. Mary McCarthy[9] did a lot [to turn her prose into proper English].

JM: I think William Shawn[10] did a lot too. Even at the time when she was at Schocken Books in the late forties, she had literary friends who could revise her drafts.

AM: That’s when she knew Irving [Howe]. I mean, she got Irving his first job, which was at Schocken Press and is why she felt so betrayed by him later, I think.

JM: Let’s talk about how you changed Social Research. In the early days of the journal, there were no thematic issues. The first one seems to be in 1939, a special issue on the struggle for economic security and democracy.

AM: I think you must have noticed if you looked at the early issues (which I have now of course done), that they are very heavy on economics.  The faculty was heavy on economics, and it was written by the economists. I mean, I have to confess, and it’s a big failing, I am bored out of my head by economics.

JM: You mean to tell me you’ve never read Capital?

AM: I’ll tell you, now they’ll evict me from this chair, but —

JM: A dark secret.

AM: Oh, and when I first started editing the journal, the number of papers that would come in unsolicited about the young Marx, the old Marx — I mean, it was just endless.

JM: So, as I was looking through the issues, it seemed to me that when Peter Berger came aboard, that’s where, for the first time, there begin to be thematic issues. And one of them, in particular, I remember as being important, when Social Research published an issue with the title “Focus: Contemporary French Philosophy.” It was one of the first times when there was a lot of structuralist stuff in translation. And then there are more focused issues in ’68. “Issues in Political Science,” “Approaches to the Human Sciences,” and so forth.  By 1970, all the issues are special issues. There’s a commemorative issue on Alfred Schutz, and lots of sociology themes: secularization, counter-secularization in contemporary society, “Problems With Structural Analysis.”

AM: That’s Peter, of course.

James Miller: Issue after special issue on sociological topics: That’s Peter Berger.

AM: That’s boring.  

JM: I  assume when he left, and you became the editor of Social Research there were a number of issues he had organized that you had to shovel out during the transitional period.

AM: Oh, and had he not, there would have been blank pages.

JM: I am guessing it was two years before you had your own first issue up. In 1972 — and you’re definitely editor at this point — there are issues on political economics, Germany, the Weimar culture, and an issue on “Critical Perspectives on the Social Sciences.”

AM: The issue right before it included the first paper by Arendt.

JM: And then there is a special issue, “Death in American Experience.” Is that you?

AM: That’s me.

JM: That’s really upbeat. How did you choose that as your inaugural topic?

AM: I’ll tell you exactly why I chose it. Richard Hofstadter[11] was a close friend. I loved Dick. He and his wife had a house in Wellfleet, near us, and we were close friends with them. And Dick got sick. He died of leukemia very young. Every day that I could, I would visit him at the hospital. When Dick died, it was a painful loss. Because he really was a wonderful man. And unlike many people in that world, in that kind of intellectual New York world, Dick had no arrogance. It’s like he felt, he sometimes had the feeling that he was somehow an imposter. It’s hard to believe because he was so gifted and wrote so beautifully. But when Dick died, I was so crushed by the loss of Dick, that I decided to do that issue, and it was based on a sense of real loss.

That issue of Social Research had a real origin. It wasn’t just that death occurred to me as an interesting subject.

JM: It seems that the next focused issue that you do, is special issues on human nature, reevaluation, in 1973.

AM: That’s me.

JM: And it lets you talk about psychology.

AM: A little bit. A little bit.

JM: But there are no special issues in 1974.

AM: But with those initial years in which I was editing, it was really hard to try to get a requisite number of papers to publish that were good, that would allow me to put together four issues a year.

JM: By the way, I see here, in 1976, issue two, “On Marx.” 

AM: Yeah. Well…

JM: Even you couldn’t resist.

AM: I probably was being pushed very hard.

JM: And, look at this, in 1978, issue number four, “Marx Today.”

AM: Is this… Well, we don’t know.

JM: The evidence is clear.

AM: No, it was not something that came naturally.

JM: But it would have made sense because these were the boom years for Western Marxism in universities.

AM: And the economics department at The New School was heavily, heavily Marxist at the time.

JM: So, it looks like by the start of the eighties, you’re hitting your stride.

AM: I was learning.

JM: You’re getting into a groove. The pattern is basically three out of four issues on specific themes, and then an issue with miscellaneous stuff. At what point did you turn to conferences, and see conferences as a way to get content for what you’re publishing?

AM: One of the people who was a great source for me of ideas was John Hollander[12]. John was a close friend. He had taught at Connecticut College, where I had been as a young faculty wife. That’s where I had my kids. My first husband died. I was 26. I had two babies. I moved to New York. I went back to graduate school. John was… I’m not sure. I think he moved to Hunter College. So, he was living in New York, too. John was extraordinarily imaginative. He was a complicated, difficult man — but if you wanted to talk about ideas, there weren’t many people who I knew, who were accessible to me, who I could just pick up and call. He would suggest people to write for me, and themes.

 So, at some point, I think it was in a conversation with John, it occurred to me that if I could do conferences and get them funded, I could pay authors. Because at that time and to this day, no one was paid for writing for Social Research.

That was the rationale. I think the first one was “Home, A Place in the World.” John talked at that conference. He talked at a lot of them. It was fun to talk to John about putting conferences together. I mean, I have real favorites, but they’re irrelevant.[13]

JM: No, no, they are relevant. You know, in part they’re relevant because they’re all… Some of them, they’re not predictable. For example, the 1990 conference on “Home” featured, besides John Hollander, the philosopher Stanley Cavell; the historians Simon Schama and Eric Hobsbawm; the sociologist Orlando Patterson; the anthropologist Mary Douglas; the political theorist George Kateb; and the literary critic David Bromwich. I mean, that’s an incredible cast of contributors, representing a very diverse array of views.

AM: That’s right.

JM: Speaking of John Hollander: Do you like reading poetry?

AM: I used to. I don’t read poetry often now. But I did.

JM: There’s an interesting split, it seems to me, in your life. I know you both as the editor of Social Research, but also as a colleague who’s in the psychology department, who’s done really important research on perception, on attentional deficit, very highly technical research. So, that you somehow combine this kind of scholarly rigor, that’s rooted in a discipline —

AM: It’s true.

JM: — with a very wide range of intellectual curiosities and interests. And somehow the journal, it seems to me, became a place where you could nourish that aspect of yourself.

AM: Absolutely. I mean, in a way, Hannah Arendt was right. Because I had the journal, and I hit upon this idea of doing conferences and thematic issues, I had an intellectual playground. I could decide to do anything I wanted, whether it was on animals or food or fear. And I knew nothing about any of them. I was a novice about them all. But what I think I learned to do was how to find out where the people who were working on these subjects were, and who were the good ones. And often, because I was doing conferences and could pay them, I could even invite them to speak and therefore write for the journal. So, it turned out to be a really good process, a good methodology.

But it’s work. It’s hard to get conferences funded, and it has gotten progressively harder, but even then it wasn’t easy. Writing grant proposals. Coming up with good themes. Doing conferences is a lot of work.

JM: Well, one of the things I noticed, when I became editor of Daedalus[14] in 2000 — another interdisciplinary academic quarterly aimed at a general reader — is I could look back and see what Daedalus had been doing for the previous 20 years, and it was noticeably inferior to what you had been doing at Social Research.

AM: Thank you very much.

JM: And I think it’s in part because there was a spirit of whimsy, in terms of your topics. There was a willingness to reject topics that you thought had been overdone, or driven into the ground. And that somehow, you were able to balance this openness to new ideas in those years with actually getting funding to do the conferences. there’s an art to that. how did you do it? Because that is another kind of skill, and it’s time-consuming and it’s another aspect of the Manhattan world that you have had to move within and navigate.

AM: I don’t know how I did it. People ask me all the time. I ask myself, “Where do the ideas for an issue or a conference come from?” And I can’t answer it. All I know is that it’s constantly there in my head, that, “Ah, what am I going to do the next issue on?”

So, let’s just talk about what I’m doing now. We have an issue coming out on loneliness, which is certainly not a conventional subject. I think it’s a really good subject.

JM: It is.

AM: We’re trying to put an issue together, I am, on the rise of xenophobia and antisemitism, which is happening around the world, which is very different than an issue on loneliness. We have the issue that came out on unknowability, how we know what we don’t know. I can’t answer. All I know is that it’s something I think about a lot.

And I read a lot.  I read TLS [The Times Literary Supplement]. I look at The London Review of Books. I look at the New York Review [of Books], which has gotten worse since Bob [Silvers][15] died. I mean, it’s sad.

JM: It’s sad.

I sort of understand your editorial process, having been on the board [of Social Research] for several years, and going to board meetings. I saw how you would work the table. So, if you had Bob Heilbroner or Alan Ryan there, you would pick and choose people to bounce ideas off of. Kind of the way you were talking about your interactions with John Hollander. So, I assume some ideas came out of those sessions.

But I still want to know how you could get the money to fund these conferences on such highly variegated subjects.

AM: I don’t know. Don’t ask me. I mean, I would write to, for example, Vartan [Gregorian], [16] who I got to know a little, but I only know because he would give me money, and not just for Social Research. Because I was running another project, the Journal Donation Project, which turned into a major deal. It started in 1990, when a Hungarian dissident, who had lost his job during the Cold War, then got reinstated when the wall came down, said to me, after I asked him what people like him most needed in terms of support from the West, “What we need are books and academic journals, which we haven’t been able to get for 45 years.” When I got up the next morning, I told him “I think I can do something.” Because I knew so many people. I simply wrote all the editors I knew, and said, “Please.” And everyone said, “Of course,” because the wall had just come down. There was euphoria. Everybody wanted to celebrate it. It was easy. And Vartan was a big supporter of the Journal Donation Project, really significant, as was Mellon. And Rockefeller, which never gives me money for anything anymore, was a big supporter of conferences for me, early on.

I mean, that same year, in 1990, was when we did our conference — I can’t believe I did this, Jim. This was the conference on “Home, A Place in the World.” It was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, and it involved the Morgan Library, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of African Art, and Studio Museum in Harlem. We got a big grant. They all had shows and we did a conference. It was wonderful.

For “Unknowability,” which is the most recently funded conference, I wrote to the National Science Foundation. I didn’t know anyone there, but I looked on the website, found somebody who seemed to have some mild interest in teaching the public about science, and I wrote to him. And he wrote back and said, “Send me a proposal.” He gave us $35,000. I mean, that’s crazy, to get NSF funding. But I got it. Don’t ask me how. I wrote a letter. I wrote a proposal.

JM: Well, by now, you do have a certain stature and profile.

AM: Yes. By now, I do. But, don’t ask me how.

JM: Well, part of the way you do it surely is by doing what you learned from watching Irving on the beach, it’s just work, work, work, work, work.

AM: Yes. And also because for many, many years, since Irving, I pretty much have lived alone. And when you live alone, you don’t have to do somebody’s laundry or cook the meal. I have endless time to work, more than I know what to do with. I can work.

JM: So, do you feel lonely? Is that the reason you did an issue on loneliness?

AM: Can I feel lonely? Yes. But it’s not… I don’t know what led me to that topic. It wasn’t my own loneliness. I must have been reading something that triggered it, and I thought, “That’s a subject.” And then I do Google searches. I use Google a lot, once I have an idea, to try to see what’s out there. Google, however naughty it is, it’s a useful tool. You can work from your desk, and you don’t have to go to the library, and you can learn a lot, quickly.

JM: Well, you mentioned Robert Silvers, who basically worked and edited until he died.

AM: Yes, that’s exactly right.

JM: I often thought — I got to meet him and know him slightly through being interviewed by him for the Daedalus job – that it was unimaginable that Bob could be in the world without editing. Do you feel that way too about editing?

AM: Yes. I feel that way about working in general. I mean, the idea of not working terrifies me.

JM: Right.

AM: It genuinely does. So, yes. For my own psychic well-being, I need to work. And because I no longer am really engaged in the lab, and in research on perception, I have one last student. She’s doing work that I really like, and probably the last thing I’ll write in that part of my life will be that work. But I need to work. I don’t understand what people do, who don’t work. I mean, I understand if there are things like you can garden, you can, I don’t know, build boats.

JM: Sure.

AM: But what I do is work.

JM: It’s interesting. In effect, what you have said here, you are stepping back from research as a psychologist, but the work you do as an editor is more — I’ll use a corny phrase —  life-affirming; more central to your sense of yourself, and your place in the world.

AM: Well, not only that. I started this whole new thing, this New University in Exile Consortium, which is a full-time job. We now have —

JM: Why don’t you explain what the consortium is, briefly?

AM: For many years, I was bringing endangered scholars to The New School for a year, people from Iran, or Turkey, or Syria. A few years ago, it occurred to me that this wasn’t enough. There were floods of academics who were losing their positions. So I thought, “We have to do more.” I put a very small group together of people at The New School, and one or two from outside, who knew about rescuing scholars. And so now we have a consortium of schools involved in giving refuge to endangered scholars: Columbia University, Connecticut College, Georgetown, George Mason, Rutgers, Trinity College, Wayne State, Wellesley, and many others. It’s been hard work — David Van Zandt, the president, he was very skeptical about this initiative. 

JM: Speaking of presidents of The New School, who was your favorite, in all the years that you’ve been here?

AM: My favorite was Jonathan Fanton because I was and am close to Jonathan.

JM: Well, the two of you had similar political passions.

AM: I think Jonathan was changed by The New School. I think he learned a lot about human rights. Not from me at all, but from Andrew Arato and Jeff Goldfarb, and then eventually Elzbieta Matynia. I think he learned a lot and became very engaged in the whole human rights issue. And when Jonathan became head of the MacArthur Foundation, he supported the Journal Donation Project. I remember him saying to me when he was president, “Arien, the thing that I get most applause for when I travel in these places like Central Asia, is the Journal Donation Project.” So, he was a very big supporter of that.

JM: So, going forward with Social Research, what might the next chapter might be, and what would you wish for it to be?

AM: Okay. I do think about it because I’m not crazy. I know I’m not going to live forever, and I’m not going to be able to edit it forever, even if I live longer. I’m not young. I’m certainly very old now. And I do need to think about what happens to all these projects.

JM: What about the kind of public that Social Research is being aimed at, since one of the things you distinctively brought to the journal was this kind of public-facing, broad-ranging set of intellectual interests? And, you know, I think it’s very hard to find that kind of range and public ambition in most people.

AM: I think it’s true. I think that people who’ve been on the board and have been there now for a while, know what Social Research is, like what it is, and are very capable.

But of course, it won’t be up to me. It will be somebody else’s decision. The thing is that I don’t know if anyone will be willing to do what I’ve done. I don’t know anyone who’s going to work this way.

JM: Well, your successor has to be someone for whom it’s a labor of love.

AM: Who really gets fun from it, and I do.

JM: Well, that’s clear in your published legacy, which is quite an astonishing one, and very rare in the annals of journals. It’s been an extraordinary run.

AM: Yeah, it’s true. A long time.

JM: A long time, and well done.

AM: Thank you.

JM: So, thank you for talking about it.

AM: It’s my pleasure.

I mean, I feel lucky. I have been lucky to have had wonderful managing editors without whom the journal would not have been able to flourish. The first was Tracey McPeake, who was succeeded long ago by Cara Schlesinger. Cara has been an extraordinary partner, I couldn’t have done what I have done without her.

And then there is The New School itself. One of the things that I’ve said probably on occasion is that I am really grateful to it for allowing me to do this. Because I had I been in any other university, I would have been a psychologist. I would have published, probably more academic research. But I would not have had the kind of extraordinary run of intellectual fun that editing Social Research has offered me.

Arien Mack is Alfred J. and Monette C. Marrow Professor of Psychology and the editor of Social Research.

James Miller is Professor of Liberal Studies and Politics, Faculty Director of Creative Publishing & Critical Journalism, and co-Executive Editor of Public Seminar.


[1] The University in Exile was the original name of the part of The New School that became the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science and, eventually, The New School for Social Research.

[2] Irving Howe (1920-1993) was a literary critic and founding editor of the democratic socialist journal Dissent; he was one of the younger members of the New York intellectual community, that gathered around the journal Partisan Review in the nineteen-forties and fifties, and then The New York Review of Books after it was founded in 1963.

[3] Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996) taught art history at Columbia and lectured at The New School. He wrote numerous monographs on art history, but also championed the work of American abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, artists who were also friends. 

[4] Peter Berger (1929-2017) was a sociologist who was renowned for writing, with Thomas Luckmann, a landmark book, The Social Construction of Reality; first published in 1966, it helped convince a rising generation of social theorists, also inspired by philosophers like Michel Foucault, to argue that key concepts, like race and gender, were almost entirely social constructs.   

[5] Daniel Bell (1919-2011) was an editor, journalist, and a sociologist well known for his books The End of Ideology (1960) and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976); among other publications, he wrote for The New Leader and Fortune magazine, before joining the faculties of Columbia University and, eventually, Harvard.

[6] Dwight MacDonald (1906-1982) was a writer, editor, social theorist, cultural critic, and sometime radical activist; he founded the left-wing journal politics in 1944, and went on to write for a wide variety of publications, from Partisan Review to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

[7] Nathan Glazer (1923-2019) was a co-editor (with Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol) of the Public Interest, and also a sociologist who taught at Berkeley and, for many years, at Harvard; perhaps his best known book is Beyond the Melting Pot (1963), which he wrote with Daniel Patrick Moynihan. 

[8] Jerome Kohn was a student of Hannah Arendt who later taught at The New School; he is the trustee of the Hannah Arendt Bluecher Literary Trust, and has edited five volumes of previously unpublished papers by Arendt.

[9] Mary McCarthy (1912-1989) was an American writer and critic, best known for her novel The Group (1963); once part of the Partisan Review circle, she became a close friend of Hannah Arendt.

[10] William Shawn (1907-1992) was the famously punctilious editor of the New Yorker from 1951 until 1987; in the 1960s, he published a number of pieces by Arendt, including the dispatches that became Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963).

[11] Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) was a Pulitzer Prize winning historian who taught at Columbia University; his best known books include The American Political Tradition (1948), The Age of Reform (1955), and Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963). 

[12] John Hollander (1929-2013) was a poet and literary critic who taught for many years at Yale University; winner of the Bollingen Prize for achievement in poetry in 1983, he also served as poetry editor for various publications, including Partisan Review and Harper’s Magazine.

[13] Arien later double-checked, and discovered that her first conference in fact was not “Home,” but “In Time of Plague,” which was also her first conference issue (published in the fall of 1988).

[14] Founded in 1958, Daedalus is the journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 

[15] Robert Silvers (1929-2017) was a founding editor, with Barbara Epstein, of the New York Review of Books, which he edited from its inception in 1963 until his death in 2017.

[16] Vartan Gregorian (1934- ) is a historian, educator, and administrator, who served as President of the New York Public Library from 1981 to 1989, President of Brown University from 1989 to 1997, and, since then, as President of the Carnegie Corporation, a philanthropic organization founded by Andrew Carnegie.

3 thoughts on “Fifty Years of Social Research

  1. It would be interesting to hear from Arien Mack her thoughts on how, if at all, the journal’s publics have changed during her tenure? If so, to what would she attribute those changes?

    With much admiration for her — thank you.

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