Madeleine Pelner Cosman, R.I.P

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Madeleine Cosman (1937-2006) died in San Diego Count)’, Calif., on March 2, of complications of scleroderma. She was a forceful spokesman for conservative and libertarian ideas, and a vivid personality, best known for her scholarship and activism in support of 2nd Amendment rights and the rights of doctors and patients.

She was a connoisseur of Renaissance art and, in the words of Robert Bidinotto of the Objectivist Center, “a Renaissance Woman. Her accomplishments and talents were legion…. An operatic singer. An actress. A wonderful pianist. A controversial and outspoken political activist. … Even an expert marksman.” Her book “Fabulous Feasts” (1976), a study of medieval cooker)’, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

She held a law degree but never practiced. Instead she taught medical law and history at the City College of New York. But that wasn’t all. She also founded City College’s Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Cosman brought a dramatic style to everything she did. Even her home, a circular house on a mountaintop, was a dramatic self-expression, planned and directed, like all her public presentations, by an intelligent and sophisticated taste. Yet she was so bold a spokesman for her ideas that one of her last public appearances, as part of a panel discussing illegal immigration, was guarded by 150 policemen.

Cosman’s impact was great, and her influence will continue. Her next book “Who Owns Your Body” (one of over a dozen) will be released later this year by Praeger.

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