Dawn, C. Ernest (1918-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Dawn, C. Ernest (1918-)

Historical Note:

C. Ernest ("Ernie") Dawn (1918-2016) was instructor (1949-52); assistant professor (1952-55); associate professor (1955-60); professor (1960-89); and professor emeritus (1989-2016) of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He was a renowned early American scholar of the Middle East and Arab nationalism, perhaps best known for his book From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism (1973).

Dawn was born in 1918 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to parents Hettie Gibson and Fred H. Dawn. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee (1941). He served in US Army Intelligence during WWII and the Korean War (1951-52). Working under Philip Hitti, Dawn earned a master's degree (1947) and PhD (1948) in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. He was an Arabist, who specialized in Arab nationalism in Syria, pan-Arabism, the history of the Greater Syria concept, Arab intellectual history, King Abdallah I of Jordan, and modern Islam. He was among "the first generation of American scholars of the Middle East" (Yaphe). As such, Dawn conducted extensive research in the Middle East, including as a Social Science Research Council fellow (1948-49), a Fulbright-Hays fellow (1966-67), and director of the Illinois Tehran Research Unit (1972�­-74). Dawn was also a faculty member (1981-82) and a fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago (1985). His written works include "Ideological Influences in the Arab Revolt" (1959), "Arab Islam in the Modern Age" (1965), From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism (1973), "The Formation of Pan-Arab Ideology in the Interwar Years" (1988), and "The Quality of Arab Nationalism" (2000).

Dawn and his wife, Pansie Dawn (nee Dooley), had two daughters, Julia and Carolyn. He died on January 5, 2016, in Seattle, Washington.


"C. Ernest Dawn," News-Gazette, January 31, 2016, accessed May 28, 2020, https://www.news-gazette.com/obituaries/c-ernest-dawn/article_4b2f78e4-e849-540d-9030-4926ae077aa5.html.

Judith Share Yaphe, "C. Ernest Dawn," History at Illinois (Spring 2016), p. 16, accessed May 28, 2020, https://history.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/inline-files/HistoryatIllinois2016low.pdf

"Memorial: C. Ernest Dawn *48," Princeton Alumni Weekly, January 11, 2017, accessed May 28, 2020, https://paw.princeton.edu/memorial/c-ernest-dawn-48.

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