Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 1, 1995

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

     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."

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