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2004 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients Named

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has named the fourth group of recipients of its Distinguished Achievement Awards. Intended to underscore the decisive contributions the humanities make to the nation’s intellectual life, the awards, amounting to as much as $1.5 million each, honor scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has named the fourth group of recipients of its Distinguished Achievement Awards. Intended to underscore the decisive role the humanities play in the nation’s intellectual life, the awards honor scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry and enable them to teach and do research under especially favorable conditions. At the same time, the awards enlarge opportunities for scholarship offered by the academic institutions with which the recipients are affiliated.

Amounting to as much as $1.5 million each, the awards will provide the recipients and their institutions with resources to deepen and extend humanistic scholarship. In contrast to other notable academic award programs that benefit the individual scholar exclusively, the Distinguished Achievement Awards are designed to recognize the interdependence of scholars and their institutions. Accordingly, while this grant program honors the achievements of individuals, the grants themselves will support specific institutional programs of activities that will enhance both research and teaching.

Four scholars were selected this year:

John Dower, Ford International Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the foremost historians of modern Japan, of US-Japanese relations, and of the events in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War, Professor Dower is a meticulous researcher in a wide range of textual and visual sources. His work reveals a deep commitment to exploring the common humanity of societies, even during periods of great tension and conflict. His elegantly written and widely acclaimed studies of Japanese diplomacy, the racist dimensions of the war in the Pacific, and the American occupation of Japan have influenced scholars in both East Asian and American history, as well as in many other fields. Professor Dower is currently at work on assembling drawings, prints, and photographs that document a wide range of topics in Japanese history and the history of US-Japanese relations, and is making them accessible in electronic form along with textual elaboration via MIT’s OpenCourseWare program. This new initiative promises to be a major resource for scholarship and teaching.

Michael Fried, James R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and Professor of the History of Art at the Johns Hopkins University. Professor Fried’s contributions to humanistic scholarship extend well beyond his groundbreaking work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art, and his championing of twentieth-century American art. Through his art historical monographs, the numerous exhibitions he has organized, and his important discussions of the theory of representation, Professor Fried’s ideas have significantly influenced the critical practices of his own field as well as other disciplines, including English, Romance languages, history, and philosophy. His work combines historical rigor and discipline at the highest level with sophisticated philosophical and psychological analysis. In addition, Professor Fried has produced notable works of literary criticism and has published several volumes of poetry. As chairman of Johns Hopkins’s Humanities Center, he has found inventive means of strengthening humanistic teaching and scholarship at the University. He is known for the care with which he trains the excellent doctoral students under his supervision, as well as for his energetic teaching of undergraduates.

Philip Gossett, Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor of Music at the University of Chicago. A prolific musicologist of wide-ranging achievement, Professor Gossett’s greatest influence has been on the study of Italian opera, both within the field of musicology and beyond. His work produced a decisive change in the place and understanding of Verdi’s operas, as well as those of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, and other composers. In addition to his voluminous writings as a scholar and critic, Professor Gossett has led major editorial projects and carefully mentored generations of graduate students. He has been an exemplary citizen of his University, not only as a legendary and generous undergraduate teacher, but also through holding numerous administrative appointments including giving a decade of service as dean of the Humanities Division. Beyond the academy, and bridging the gap between theory and practice, Professor Gossett also works directly with the world’s leading performers and opera houses, as well as those that are less well-known.

Christine Korsgaard, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Professor Korsgaard is one of the leading figures in moral philosophy today. Inspired by Kant's ethics, from which she often begins her own explorations of central issues, she has developed new ways of explaining and defending a vision of morality as expressing what is unique about human action. We are able to step back from any impulse or desire so that we can consider whether or not to act on it. This makes us free in a special way. Morality as Korsgaard sees it arises from this freedom. Her numerous papers show how to understand in these terms key moral concepts, such as respect for persons, truthfulness, moral community, and the special force of moral motivation. She has developed a strong critique of skepticism and a new view of how morality is essential to the unity of individual personality. Her revitalization of a Kantian approach has influenced numerous students and aroused international interest.

Distinguished Achievement Awards were first made in 2001 to Peter Brown, Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University; Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University; Sabine MacCormack, then at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, currently Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C, College of Arts and Letters Professor of History and Classics at the University of Notre Dame; Alexander Nehamas, Edmund N. Carpenter II Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Princeton University; and Robert Pippin, Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor, Committee on Social Thought, Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago.

The award’s second group of recipients, selected in 2002, consists of Michael Cook, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor in Modern Russian History at the University of Chicago; Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History at Harvard University; Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan Professor of English at the University of Virginia; and Susan Wolf, Edna J. Koury Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2003, the award recipients were Roger S. Bagnall, Professor of Classics and History at Columbia University; Robert B. Brandom, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh; Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University; and Christopher Ricks, Warren Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

The awards are for three years, with funds being granted to, and overseen by, the recipients’ institutions. Although the uses of funds differ in each case and reflect a wide range of scholarly interests and institutional settings, in general, the awards underwrite a portion of recipients’ salaries and their research expenses, while also providing support for colleagues and students engaged in collaboration with the awardees. The recipients will be expected to spend at least two of the three years on their home campuses. Previous years’ awards are being used to bring co-workers and visiting scholars to the recipients’ institutions; to provide postdoctoral and graduate fellowships; to subsidize instruction in areas not offered by their institutions; and to support an array of scholarly projects including the preparation and editing of texts, the development of electronic scholarly tools, seminars and meetings to explore promising new directions in the relevant fields, and archeological excavations.

The recipients of the awards were selected through an intensive process of nomination and review. Final selections were made by a panel of distinguished scholars led by Patricia Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia. The selection panel consisted also of Bernard Bailyn, Adams University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University; Elizabeth Cropper, Dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art; J. Paul Hunter, Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Professor Emeritus, Department of English Language and Literature and the College at the University of Chicago; Jerome B. Schneewind, Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University; and Heinrich von Staden, Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study.

Recipients are chosen from such fields as classics, history, history of art, musicology, philosophy, religious studies, and all areas of literary studies, including the study of foreign literatures. Recipients of the awards must hold tenured appointments at US institutions of higher education.

As William G. Bowen, the Foundation’s president, has observed: “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has, from its inception, been dedicated to enabling first rate scholars and institutions to cultivate and to advance humanistic learning and understanding. These awards are made in recognition of individuals who have excelled in that mission and whose work and influence continue to enrich the broader community of humanistic studies.”

Martha Sullivan
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
(212) 838-8400

Further description of the Distinguished Achievement Awards, and the Foundation’s programs for research universities and humanistic scholarship is available here.

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