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On the Passing of Professor Edmund (Mike) Keeley

The Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA) was saddened to hear of the passing of one of its own founding members and an inspirational leader, Professor Edmund (Mike) Keeley. Early tributes have justly underscored Professor Keeley’s stature as a scholar, author, mentor, and translator of modern Greek literature. Indeed, many English-speakers were introduced to the riches of modern Greek poetry through his translations of Cavafy, Seferis, Ritsos in the 1960s and 1970s. Professor Keeley was also a founder and longtime cornerstone of the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.  

As the MGSA Executive Committee Chair (1968-70), and then as the Association’s first President (1971-73), Professor Keeley was at the heart of early endeavors to establish an association made up of scholars recruited from diverse fields across the United States and Canada. In those early years, when programs in Modern Greek were few in number and often only rudimentary in scope, Professor Keeley understood that the promotion of our field could only be supported by a professional organization. He worked hard with other founding members to oversee the election of a governing board, the approval of a constitution, the establishment of an endowment, and the organization of international biennial symposia.

In a later, second tenure as President (1980-82), Professor Keeley worked hard to realize the creation of the premier academic journal at a prestigious university press. Since 1983, the Journal of Modern Greek Studies, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, has very much lived up to those highest expectations. In all the subsequent years, Professor Keeley has always offered the Association his support and guidance. In 2005, our Executive Board resolved that the MGSA Book Prize should be named in honor of Edmund Keeley “in recognition of his distinguished contributions, as pioneering translator and critic, to the broad dissemination and scholarly study of modern Greek literature in the English-speaking world and to the field of Modern Greek Studies in the United States.”

While we mourn his passing, we embrace the wonderful legacy he left behind. Further arrangements to honor Professor Keeley’s legacy will be announced in due course.  


Tom Papademetriou
MGSA President
Professor, Stockton University


Edmund_Keeley New York Times obituary →