GSAS alumni awarded National Humanities Medal

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Five alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences were among the 10 eminent scholars who were awarded the 2010 National Humanities Medal by President Obama at a White House ceremony on March 2, 2011.

The five medalists with GSAS connections are: Daniel Aaron, Ph.D. ’43, history of American civilization; Bernard Bailyn, Ph.D. ’53, history, a 2001 GSAS Centennial Medalist; Stanley Nider Katz, ’55, Ph.D. ’61, history; Arnold Rampersad, Ph.D. ’73, English; and Gordon S. Wood, Ph.D. ’64, history.

The National Humanities Medal is awarded for outstanding achievements in history, literature, education, and cultural policy. It honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the country’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.

As reported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Daniel Aaron was cited for his contributions to American literature and culture. “As the founding president of the Library of America, he helped preserve our nation’s heritage by publishing America’s most significant writing in authoritative editions.” (Read profile.)

Bernard Bailyn was cited for illuminating the nation’s early history and pioneering the field of Atlantic history. “Bailyn, who spent his career at Harvard, has won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and the second for Voyagers to the West,” the NEH reported. (Read profile.)

Stanley Nider Katz was honored for a career devoted to fostering public support for the humanities. As director of the American Council of Learned Societies for more than a decade, he expanded the organization’s programs and helped forge ties between libraries, museums, and foundations. (Read profile.)

Arnold Rampersad was honored for his work as a biographer and literary critic. His award-winning books have profiled W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, and Ralph Ellison. He has also edited critical editions of the works of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. (Read profile.)

Gordon S. Wood was cited for scholarship that provides insight into the founding of the nation and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Wood is author and editor of 18 books, including The Radicalism of the American Revolution, for which he earned a Pulitzer Prize. (Read profile.)

Recipients of the 2010 National Medal of Arts were honored at the same White House ceremony today, and another familiar Harvard face was among that group of winners: Robert Brustein, the founding director of the American Repertory Theatre. Honorees also included Meryl Streep, Van Cliburn, and James Taylor.