Sam Danon, professor of French, came to Reed in 1962, "barely 25 years old and right out of graduate school" at Johns Hopkins University. An impassioned recommendation by a friend and "an exceptionally warm letter from Professor Donald MacRae" encouraged him to accept a job offer at Reed, in a part of the country "as alien to me as the Amazon." He has never regretted it.
Raised in Greece, Danon studied at the Lyc‚e Fran‡ais d'AthŠnes from 1949 to 1955, received a B.A. from Brandeis University in 1958, and completed an M.A. and Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in 1962 and 1976. His areas of academic interest have included seventeenth-century drama, nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetry, critical theory, and translation of both Old French texts and modern French poetry. He has studied the work of MoliŠre and fetishism and has been working on a study dealing with twentieth-century French poetry and poetics. He has also written and published his own poetry. In 1992 he was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre National des Palmes Acad‚miques by the French Republic in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the promotion of French language and literature.
Teaching at Reed has remained exciting and challenging for Danon because the college attracts bright students who want to learn for the sake of learning and dedicated teachers who consider teaching as more than a profession. "One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching at Reed has been the satisfaction one feels when the material taught in one class spills over, so to speak, into another, that a learning continuum is taking place, that intellectual curiosity does not limit itself to the material of a specific course or subject. Quantum theory has a place in art history and literature, and topology can find its way into the composition of a paper on Mallarm‚ written by a mathematics major."
On April 28 Danon's plans for his final session of a literature conference were foiled by a surprise party thrown by current students and by the appearance of two alumni, Kilian Kerwin '85 and Bill Fitch '86. The two had plotted for some time to come to Portland, from Los Angeles and New York City respectively, to celebrate Danon's retirement and show their appreciation for his inspired teaching. Their tribute meant a lot to Danon, who has tremendous admiration for the dedication, integrity, and intellectual excellence of Reed students.