Prof. Norman Itzkowitz, 87, of Princeton died Jan. 20, 2019. Born in New York City, he had resided in Princeton for over 65 years.
Prof. Itzkowitz was a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and served as the Master of Wilson College, one of the university’s residential colleges, from 1975 to 1989. He was the author of a number of books in his field of Ottoman and Turkish Studies, including “The Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition”; “Mubadele: An Ottoman-Russian Exchange of Ambassadors,” co-written with his friend Prof. Max Mote; his translation of Halil Inalcik’s “The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600; Immortal Ataturk,” co-written with his friend and collaborator Dr. Vamik Volkan; “Turks and Greeks: Neighbors in Conflict,” co-written with Volkan; and “Richard Nixon: A Psychobiography,” co-written with Volkan and Andrew Dod. Later in life he wrote a series of children’s history books for Scholastic with co-author Enid Goldberg.
He attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City and City College of New York, where he won the college’s Cromwell Medal in History and played on the varsity lacrosse and fencing teams. He was admitted to Princeton University’s Graduate School, where he studied under his mentor, the historian Lewis Thomas. Following Thomas’s death he completed his fundamental “Elementary Turkish,” still in use today. He was awarded a Ford Foundation grant to study in Turkey in the mid-1950s, where he and his wife lived for several years and where they returned often in the 1950s and 60s.
Well into his academic career, he developed an interest in psychoanalysis and went back to school in New York City at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. He trained to become a lay analyst, eventually seeing a small number of patients in New York and becoming interested in the discipline of psychohistory. It was during this period that he co-wrote his psychobiography of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, with Dr. Volkan. He extended his academic work in the area of psychoanalysis into hands-on work in the area of inter-ethnic conflict resolution, traveling to Estonia, where he worked with Volkan on reducing Estonian-Russian tensions following Estonian independence. He was also one of the earliest Princeton scholars to develop online teaching materials, in particular his lecture series “The Demonization of the Other: The Psychology of Ethnic Conflict in the Balkans.”
He became increasingly involved in the on-campus life of Princeton students, becoming the Master of Wilson College, one of the residential colleges where students live and take their meals. He organized regular trips to New York City to the opera, Broadway shows, and sporting events. He served on the Committee on Undergraduate Life (CURL), which radically reorganized undergraduate life at Princeton by bringing in the residential college system and forming the basis of the Princeton undergraduate experience.
He enjoyed fencing and sports, serving as a faculty adviser to the successful Princeton fencing and hockey teams.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Leonore (Krauss); his son, Jay (Pria Chatterjee); his daughter, Karen (A. Norman) Redlich; a sister, Edith; and four granddaughters.
Services were held Jan. 22 with arrangements by Orland’s Ewing Memorial Chapel, Ewing.