Verdery, Kessler Elected to Academy of Arts And Sciences By Emil Venere and Leslie Rice Two Hopkins faculty members were elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on April 12. Anthropology professor Katherine Verdery and art history professor Herbert Kessler were among 162 new fellows and 21 foreign members selected this year for the prestigious honor. About 25 percent of nominees are elected after a rigorous review process by other fellows, said Anna Andrews Smith, membership coordinator for the academy, which is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. An induction ceremony will be held for new members in the fall. The academy is a learned society with about 3,300 fellows and 550 foreign honorary members. It was founded in 1780 to honor achievement in science, scholarship, the arts and public affairs. Nominees are rated, and the ratings are then reviewed by a 21-member committee and by members at large. Thirty-five Hopkins faculty members are academy fellows. Dr. Verdery, an internationally known anthropologist, came to Hopkins in 1977 after receiving a doctorate at Stanford University. She is considered the nation's foremost expert in the field of the anthropology of Eastern Europe. She was the department chairwoman from 1989 to 1992. "I am very honored to be included in the company of so many stellar North American intellectuals," she said. Dr. Verdery's specialties include ethnicity and nationalism, agrarian social history, and the transition from socialism. Although her earlier research was partly historical, she now concentrates on the socialist system and its transformation. Her current research is on decollectivization, or privatization of agricultural land. Dr. Kessler, a world-renowned expert in medieval art, came to Hopkins in 1976 from the University of Chicago and served as department chairman until 1990. Colleagues credit Dr. Kessler with being instrumental in developing the Hopkins program into one of the nation's best. He received his doctorate from Princeton University and has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. During the last several years, Dr. Kessler has directed his studies to both illuminated manuscript Bibles, dating back to early Christian times, and to the study of medieval image theory, which examines the role icons and images played in the lives of medieval people. His latest book, "Studies in Pictorial Narratives," was published last year and examines a series of medieval works that tell stories through pictures. In 1990 he published "The Frescoes of the Dura Europos Synagogue and Christian Art," the study of a third-century synagogue. "Dr. Kessler is a prolific writer and top in his field," said department chairman Charles Dempsey. "His presence here alone is one of the major reasons why this department is one of the country's best."
Go to Gazette Homepage