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2007 John Frederick Lewis Award

Autumn General Meeting
Lionel Gossman

The 2007 recipient of the American Philosophical Society’s John Frederick Lewis Award is Lionel Gossman for his monograph The Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck's “Italia und Germania” published in the Society’s Transactions, volume 97, part 5. The book is a captivating study of a once-famous German painting’s genesis and context and of the unexpectedly numerous layers of esthetic and religious meanings Dr. Gossman has cleverly shown it to contain. It is a most pleasurable read.

Born in Scotland, Lionel Gossman earned an M.A. at the University of Glasgow in 1951, a diplome d'études supérieures at the University of Paris in 1952, and a D. Phil. at the University of Oxford in 1957. After teaching at the University of Lille and at Glasgow, he came to the United States in 1958 and joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, where he taught for seventeen years. He moved to Princeton University as professor of Romance languages and literatures in 1976. Dr. Gossman was appointed the M. Taylor Pyne Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures in 1983, and became professor emeritus in 1999. Dr. Gossman’s interests focus on the relationship between history and literature in 17th through 19th century Europe.

Dr. Gossman's other publications include Men and Masks: A Study of Molière (1963), Medievalism and the Ideologies of the Enlightenment (1968), The Empire Unpossess'd (1981), Between History and Literature (1990), Geneva-Zurich-Basel: History, Culture and National Identity (with N. Bouvier et al, 1994) and Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas (2000). He received the Behrman Award in 1990 and was named an Officier des Palmes Académiques in 1991. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1996.

In 1935 the American Philosophical Society established the John Frederick Lewis Award, with funds donated by his widow, to honor this outstanding maritime lawyer who played a major role in various cultural institutions in Philadelphia. The award recognizes the best book or monograph published by the Society in a given year.

The selection committee consisted of chairman Eugene F. Rice, Jr., William R. Shepherd Professor Emeritus, Columbia University; Glen W. Bowersock, Professor of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study; and Noel M. Swerdlow, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and of History, University of Chicago.