Miriam Hansen would have celebrated her 62nd birthday today. It was a happy coincidence that we shared birthdays, which served as a reminder each year to stay in touch long after I left graduate school. News of her death this past February, despite her long struggle with cancer, came as a shock. She was an incredible force of a person — so much so that you expected if anyone could beat this, she would. She was tirelessly driven and unfailingly generous, of her time, her unique insights, and her disarming sense of humor.
We all relied on Miriam. . . to provide unblinking, fair critique of one’s work, to courageously (especially in the face of serious illness) set the standard for academic rigor among her colleagues, and to lay the groundwork for the next generation of scholars and students, not least with the founding of the Cinema and Media Studies program at the University of Chicago, of which she was very proud and I am thankful to have played a part in its early days. Yes, a rare, beautiful force who truly inspired others to achieve their best.
I feel very fortunate to have known her and I miss her, especially today.