In Memoriam: David Sudnow

According to a 'Paid Notice' In the New York Times, written by Arnold J. Mandell, M.D., and published September 16, 2007, David Sudnow passed away on July 20, 2007 at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California


Earlier that year, on April 3rd, he had made a public political statement in favor of the candidacy of Sen. Bill Bradley on a website called 'The new American Story: the new book by Bill Bradley'. He also published a 'profile' of himself, which I quote below:

"About Me:

I have a PhD in Sociology from Berkeley (1965). I wrote the first book on the care of the dying (Passing On: The Social Organization of Dying); I wrote the first detailed account of how human hands learn a piano keyboard (Ways of the Hand: Harvard University Press. I wrote the first study of the skills of video gaming (Pilgrim in the Micro World (Warner Books). I've received a Guggenheim Fellowship. My piano program was featured three times on NBC Today. I have the largest popular (jazz standards) piano course in the world (the Sudnow Method.


Favorite Music:

Glenn Gould's Bach
Bartok's Fifth String Quartet
all of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea
most pre-romantic era music
nearly all classical music written in the 20th Century

Favorite TV Shows:

Rarely watch. When I do: Bill Maher, Charlie Rose, C Span, The News Hour".

One can look at him explaining his Sudnow Method to play the piano at YouTube:

David was a first generation ethnomethodologist, who did some wonderful work, see his publications mentioned below. He was also, as I know from some small bits of personal experience, a 'difficult' person, switching from nice remarks to very sharp if bitter observations to extreme verbal violence. Many will remember a controversy about the Wikipedia entree on Harvey Sacks.

Let's try to remember David for his contributions as reported in the following works:

Sudnow, David (1965) 'Normal crimes: sociological features of a penal code in a public defender's office', Social Problems 12: 255-76

Sudnow, David (1967) Passing on: the social organization of dying. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall

Sudnow, David (1972) 'Temporal parameters of interpersonal observation'. In: David Sudnow, ed. Studies in social interaction. New York: Free Press: 259-79

Sudnow, David, ed. (1972) Studies in social interaction. New York: Free Press

Sudnow, David (1978) Ways of the hand: the organization of improvised conduct. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Sudnow, David (1979) Talk's body: a meditation between two keyboards. New York: Knopf

Sudnow, David (1983) Pilgrim in a microworld. London: Heinemann

Sudnow, David (2001) Ways of the Hand: A Rewritten Account. Cambridge, Mass. M.I.T. Press

Paul ten Have

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