National Arts and Humanities Medals
News Release Date: February 14, 2012
Research Triangle Park, N.C. Three of those honored with this year's National Humanities Medal and National Medal of Arts are former Fellows and trustees of the National Humanities Center.
In a ceremony earlier this week at the White House, philosopher K. Anthony Appiah from Princeton (Fellow 1990-91, trustee 1998-2006) and literature scholar Andrew H. Delbanco from Columbia (Fellow 1990-91 and 2002-03, trustee emeritus) received National Humanities Medals for their contributions to the study of the humanities in the United States. At the same ceremony, President Barack Obama presented poet Rita Dove from the University of Virginia (Fellow 1988-89) with a National Medal of Arts.
In announcing the awards, the White House Office of the Press Secretary pointed to Anthony Appiah's pursuit of "eternal truths in the contemporary world" noting that his books and essays "have shed moral and intellectual light on the individual in an era of globalization and evolving group identities."
Andrew Delbanco was recognized "for his insight into the American character, past and present" and in particular for his work in American studies which reveals how classics by Herman Melville and Ralph Waldo Emerson "have shaped our history and contemporary life."
Rita Dove was honored for her contributions as an American poet and author and for her efforts to "create popular interest in the literary arts, serving as the United States' youngest Poet Laureate and advocating on behalf of the diversity and vitality of American poetry and literature."
Appiah and Delbanco join the distinguished list of Center Fellows and trustees who have been honored with the National Humanities Medal—a list that includes Dove, who received the honor in 1996. Other past recipients include John Hope Franklin, William Friday, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., David Levering Lewis, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Hanna Holborn Gray, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Hilton Kramer, Harvey Mansfield, Martin Marty, Toni Morrison, and John Searle.
The National Humanities Medal was first established in 1988 as the Charles Frankel Prize, in honor of the Center's first director. In 1997 it was renamed the National Humanities Medal.