Autumn General Meeting, November 14, 2008
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Thomas E. Burman
The American Philosophical Society awarded the 2008 Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History to Dr. Thomas E. Burman for his book, Reading the Qur’an in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560. The award was presented by Mary Patterson McPherson, Executive Officer of the Society.
Thomas E. Burman is Professor and Head of the Department of History at the University of Tennessee, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1991. He received his Ph.D. in medieval studies from the University of Toronto in 1991. In 1995 he received a research grant from the Society.
Exceedingly original in its deployment of source material, its analyses and its conclusions, Thomas Burman’s Reading the Qur’an in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560 is a major contribution that is changing the way medieval and Renaissance history of Muslim-Christian relations is written. A learned and revisionist study of the knowledge of the Qur’an in the West in the later Middle Ages, it has its origins in the Latin translations found primarily in early printed books. Whereas past historians have leaned heavily on polemical treatises against Islam written by Christian scholars, Burman’s largely unmined sources tell a different story: that the reading of the Qur’an in Western Europe was highly complex, with scholars of the period immersed in a wide range of grammatical, lexical and interpretive problems presented by the text. Burman considers these subjects in the historical and comparative context of Christian-Muslim relations and cultures and modern Qur’anic scholarship. The result is a hands-on picture of how Europeans read the sacred text of Islam.
The Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History is awarded annually to the author whose book exhibits distinguished work in American or European cultural history. The prize honors historian and cultural critic Jacques Barzun, a member of the American Philosophical Society since 1984.
The selection committee consisted of chairman Donald R. Kelley, James Westfall Thompson Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University; Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study; and Michael Wood, Charles Barnwell Straut Professor of English, Princeton University.
Vamsi Krishna Mootha
The American Philosophical Society awarded the 2008 Judson Daland Prize for Achievement in Patient-oriented Clinical Investigation to Dr. Vamsi K. Mootha in recognition of his achievements in genomic approaches to human mitochondrial disorders. The award was presented by Clyde F. Barker, Vice President of the Society and new chairman of the prize selection committee.
Vamsi Mootha is an assistant professor and physician at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Human Genetic Research; assistant professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Systems Biology and of Medicine; and senior associate member at the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He received his M.D. in 1998 from the Harvard-M.I.T. Division of Health Sciences and Technology and joined the Harvard faculty in 2002.
A gifted physician and researcher, Vamsi Mootha has, through integrated application of mass spectroscopy, genomics, computation and clinical medicine, greatly elucidated the network properties of mitochondria and how these properties go awry in human disease. His efforts have led to the rapid identification of nuclear genes underlying human mitochondria disease, as well as to the discovery that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the common form of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This groundbreaking work has profound implications for virtually all common diseases, including cancer.
The prize is named for Dr. Judson Daland, born in 1860, a prominent Philadelphia physician and outstanding figure in medical research who left the bulk of his estate to the Society to support research in clinical medicine. The prize recognizes outstanding achievement in clinical investigation, particularly patient-oriented research.
The selection committee consisted of chairman Victor A. McKusick, University Professor of Medical Genetics, Johns Hopkins University; Clyde F. Barker, Donald Guthrie Professor, University of Pennsylvania; John N. Loeb, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Columbia University; Arno Motulsky, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Genome Sciences, University of Washington; and Thomas E. Starzl, Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt
The American Philosophical Society awarded the 2008 John Frederick Lewis Award to Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt for her monograph Franz Boas and W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1906. The award was presented by Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study and chairman of the prize selection committee.
Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt is Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the College and professor of anthropology at Agnes Scott College. Her teaching and scholarly interests include folklore and the history and theory of anthropology. She is a recipient of the Society’s Mellon Resident Research Fellowship Grant and was a Library Resident Fellow from 1996-97. She is also the author of American Folklore Scholarship: A Dialogue of Dissent (1988) and Wealth and Rebellion: Elsie Clews Parsons, Anthropologist and Folklorist (1992).
The seeds of Franz Boas and W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1906 were planted at the American Philosophical Society Library, where Dr. Zumwalt was researching the papers of the anthropologist William Shedrick Willis. In these papers she discovered an unpublished draft manuscript, Boas Goes to Atlanta, which Willis had conceived as a study of Franz Boas’s work in black anthropology.
Using the first chapter of this manuscript as a jumping off point, Zumwalt goes on to consider the Father of American Anthropology’s trip to Atlanta in great depth. Drawing from a wealth of archival correspondence and bibliographic research, she relates the history of Boas’s time on the Atlanta University campus; responses to his talk by blacks and whites; and the conflict that the trip itself caused between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.
In 1935 the American Philosophical Society established the John Frederick Lewis Award with funds donated by his widow. The award recognizes the best book or monograph published by the Society in a given year.
The selection committee consisted of chairman Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study; Helen F. North, Centennial Professor Classics Emerita, Swarthmore College; and Noel M. Swerdlow, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics and of History, University of Chicago.