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English professor wins Hubbel Award for lifetime achievements in American literature

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor
(217) 333-2177;

Mailed 8/29/2000


Nina Baym
Photo by Bill Wiegand
Nina Baym is widely regarded as a leading scholar of American fiction, 19th century American literature and American women's writing.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois English professor Nina Baym has won the 2000 Hubbell Award, given annually by the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association of America.

The award, a specially struck medal, is given "to a scholar whose lifetime of scholarly work has significantly advanced the study of American literature," according to Eric Sundquist, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University and the chair of the Hubbell Award committee.

Baym is widely regarded as a leading scholar of American fiction, 19th century American literature and American women's writing. Other research interests include authorship and culture and canon formation.

She is the author of six books including "American Women Writers and the Work of History, 1790-1865" and more than 55 articles and 110 reviews of American authors, including Dickinson, Emerson, Frost, Hawthorne, James, Poe, Thoreau, Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, Sarah Hale, Elizabeth Peabody, Lydia Sigourney and Emma Willard.

Baym also is the general editor of "The Norton Anthology of American Literature," the most widely used anthology in the field, and has served -- or currently serves -- on the editorial boards of 18 academic journals.

Notified of her award on Aug. 18, Baym will accept it at the section's meeting during the MLA annual conference in December. Previous recipients of the Hubbell Award, which is named for Jay B. Hubbell, the founding editor of the journal American Literature, include Cleanth Brooks, Malcolm Cowley, Leon Edel, Alfred Kazin, R.W.B. Lewis and Robert Penn Warren. The most recent previous recipient is Paula Gunn Allen of UCLA.

At Illinois, Baym holds a Swanland Endowed Chair, and is a Center for Advanced Study Professor of English and a Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Dennis Baron, the head of the UI English department, said that giving the Hubbell Award to Baym was "no surprise" to him. "She has long been recognized as one of the top American literature specialists in the profession. I should add that her presence is strong locally as well as on the national scene." Baron also noted that Baym, whom he called "a distinguished scholar," has served in key administrative roles on campus, most notably as the director of the former School of Humanities.

In addition, she is recognized as one of the top teachers -- both of undergraduate and graduate students -- in the English department, "a department, I should add, that is noted for its excellent teaching."

Baym regularly teaches the large undergraduate lecture survey course of American literature, and she has directed 33 dissertations to completion. Baym joined the English department in 1963, the same year she received her doctoral degree from Harvard University.