Publication Date

January 1, 2005

Perspectives Section


In the recent past, several historians—many of them members of the AHA—have received high honors in recognition of their contribution to historical scholarship. Among these are Gertrude Himmelfarb, professor emerita of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and long-time member of the AHA. She received the National Humanities Medal for her “critical analysis of history, which has yielded insights into Victorian England and the foundations of our culture.” Himmelfarb, who received her PhD from the University of Chicago, is the author of several books, of which the most recent areDemoralization of Society: From Victorian Virtue to Modern Values (1996) One Nation, Two Cultures (1999), andThe Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments (2004).

George M. Marsden, the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and AHA member, received—among others—theGrawemeyer Award for his book, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (2003), which examines the life of the famous 18th-century preacher. Marsden, who received his PhD in American studies from Yale University, is the author of many books on religious history and on educational culture. His biography of Edwards already received the Bancroft Prize and the Merle Curti Award (from the Organization of American Historians). The Grawemeyer Award, which carries a $200,000 prize, is given jointly by the University of Louisville and the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Maria Mavroudi, assistant professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley and AHA member, is among this year’s 23 winners of the prestigious fellowships awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Mavroudi, who received her PhD from Harvard University, deploys her training in philology to study cultural exchanges between medieval Byzantium and its Islamic neighbors. Her book, A Byzantine Book on Dream Interpretation: The Oneirocriticon of Achmet and its Arabic Sources (2002) showed, among other things, that the Arabic world made significant contributions to Byzantian culture.

The 2004 John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences was awarded to historian of religion,Jaroslav Pelikan, who was Sterling Professor of history at Yale University in the 1970s, where he also served as dean of the graduate school, 1973–78. Pelikan, known for his erudite and magisterial histories of the religious tradition (most notably, the five-volume study, The Christian Tradition: A History and Development of Doctrine) is also known for such popular works asBach among the Theologians,The Idea of the University, and Jesus Through the Centuries. Peilikan was president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994–97) and held the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the North in the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He shared the 2004 Kluge Prize of $1 million with philosopher Paul Ricouer.

Kenneth J. Ruoff, history professor and director of Portland State University’s Center for Japanese Studies, and an AHA member, was awarded the Jiro Osaragi Prize for commentary, the first time the prize has been awarded to a foreign scholar. The award, instituted by the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, and which includes a cash prize of 2 million yen, was conferred upon Ruoff for the Japanese translation of his book, The People's Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945–1995. Ruoff received his PhD from Columbia University and taught and researched at Hokkaido University and the Reischauer Institiute at Harvard University before joining Portland State University.

Among the winners of the 2004 National Book Awards is AHA member Kevin Boyle, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, who received the award in the nonfiction category for his book, The Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age. Boyle received his PhD from the University of Michigan. His earlier works include The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945–1968, and the coauthoredMuddy Boots and Ragged Aprons: Images of Working-Class Detroit, 1900–1930.

Nikki R. Keddie, AHA member and professor emerita of history at the University of California at Los Angeles, was awarded one of the four prestigious Balzan Prizes for 2004 for her work on the modern Islamic world. Keddie, who studied at Radcliffe College and Stanford University, received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley for her study of the impact of the West on Iran. She is the founder-editor of the journal, Contention: Debates in Society, Culture and Science. Her definitive and influential history of modern Iran published in 1981 has recently been revised and re-published as Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution, and she recently completed a study of women in the Middle East.

Winners of the munificent Balzan prize are required to dedicate half of the prize amount to supporting research in the scholar's field. To this end, Keddie is proposing to arrange a few fellowships for nontenured PhD.s at UCLA's history department.

Previous winners of the Balzan Prize in history include Eric Hobsbawm, Anthony Grafton, and Samuel Eliot Morison. For 2005 the Balzan Prize Committee will be considering nominations (only from learned societies and scholars invited to nominate) in the field of Asian art history.

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