In Memoriam: Cornell Fleischer (1950–2023)

April 26, 2023


Cornell Fleischer, an alumnus of the Department of Near Eastern Studies, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Chicago. Fleischer, who specialized in Ottoman history, taught at Ohio State University and Washington University in St. Louis before joining the Departments of History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in 1993. He later became the inaugural holder of the Kanuni Süleyman Chair in Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Chicago.

Born in 1950, Fleischer, the son of an American diplomat, attended Brown University before transferring to Princeton as a “critical language” undergraduate student to study Arabic. A member of the Class of 1972, he wrote his senior thesis on “The Joke and Creation: Juha, the Mulla Nasr al-Din and Nasreddin Hoca.” He continued in the Department of Near Eastern Studies for his Ph.D., completing his dissertation, “Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli Efendi, 1541–1600: A Study in Ottoman Historical Consciousness,” in 1982. This work formed the basis of his highly acclaimed book, Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Âli (Princeton University Press, 1986), translated into Turkish in 1996 as Tarihçi Mustafa Âli: Bir Osmanlı Aydın ve Bürokratı. Soon after its publication, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1988. He was also the co-editor with Gülrü Necipoğlu and Cemal Kafadar of Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/31503/4) (Brilll, 2019) and authored numerous articles. He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998 and was presented with the Order of Merit, Turkey’s highest civilian order, by President Gül.

For more information, please click on the University of Chicago announcement.