UCSB Santa Barbara Department of History logo

Prof. Emeritus Leonard M. Marsak died Feb. 4.

We offer here this short tribute by Prof. Sears McGee.

A former member of this department, Leonard M. Marsak, died in Santa Barbara at age eighty-nine on February 4, 2013. He completed his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Cornell, and he retired from UCSB in 1986. He was the first Jewish graduate student to be accepted for history at Cornell, where he worked under the tutelage of Henry Guerlac. Lennie taught at MIT, Wellesley, Reed and Rice before coming to UCSB in 1966. In 1964, he wrote letters of recommendation for one his undergraduate students at Rice, Sears McGee, for graduate study. His field was modern European intellectual history, and he defined it very broadly. His first publication was an oft-quoted monograph entitled Bernard de Fontenelle: the Idea of Science in the French Enlightenment (1959). Next came a large anthology he created, French Philosophers from Descartes to Sartre (1961). In addition to various articles, it was followed by three books he compiled and edited: The Nature of Historical Inquiry (1970); The Enlightenment (1972); and The Rise of Science in Relation to Society (1974). These titles underline his deep interest in the relationship between science, thought, and modernity and the breadth of his understanding of European thought since 1500. Lennie was a patient, inventive, and thoughtful teacher and a master of the investigation of the relationship between science, politics, and society in early modern Europe.

Tribute by UCSB Professor Sears McGee.

hm 2/7/13