As the new academic year begins at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, we are pleased to announce the naming of three of our faculty members to endowed professorships. Susan Mizruchi, professor of English and director of the BU Center for the Humanities, this fall becomes the inaugural William Arrowsmith Chair in the Humanities. Stephen Prothero becomes the inaugural C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion in America. And Professor of English Erin Murphy becomes a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Distinguished Teaching Professor. Each of these individuals is an excellent scholar and teacher, and we congratulate them on these honors that recognize their positive influence on our community and the wider world.
Professor Susan Mizruchi was named the inaugural William Arrowsmith Chair in the Humanities. Arrowsmith (1924-92) was a distinguished American classicist who served as professor of classical studies at Boston University; the department’s library is named for him. He founded and edited The Hudson Review and Arion and is remembered for his many translations, among other works.
As a professor of English and the director of the BU Center for the Humanities, Mizruchi’s accomplishments are many. She writes at the intersection of social, religious, and literary studies. She specializes in American literature and film, religion and culture, literary and social theory, literary history, and history of the social sciences. In addition to numerous articles in leading peer-reviewed journals on literature and religion, Mizruchi has written five books: Brando’s Smile: His Life, Thought, and Work (Norton, 2014, 2015); The Rise of Multicultural America (North Carolina UP, 2008); Becoming Multicultural: Culture, Economy, and the Novel, 1860–1920 (Cambridge UP, 2005); The Science of Sacrifice: American Literature and Modern Social Theory (Princeton UP, 1998); and The Power of Historical Knowledge: Narrating the Past in Hawthorne, James, and Dreiser (Princeton, 1988). She has also edited a book, Religion and Cultural Studies (Princeton UP, 2001), and serves as Oxford University Press’s literature delegate and as a consultant for many foundations. Among them are PBS (the American Masters series), the NEH, the National Humanities Alliance, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the MacArthur Foundation. She has received some of the greatest honors for her scholarship, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the ACLS, the NEH, the Huntington Library, and the Fulbright Scholars Program.
Professor Stephen Prothero was named the inaugural C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion in America. The professorship was established in honor of Dr. C. Allyn Russell and his wife, Elizabeth. Russell was a Baptist minister and professor emeritus of religion. He began his career at Boston University in 1961, where he focused his work on the history of religion in America for 26 years.
Prothero specializes in American religion, and is an accomplished author within his discipline. He has published seven books, several of which have received recognition and esteemed awards, including: The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (Indiana UP, 1996), which won the Best First Book award of the American Academy of Religion in 1997; Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America (University of California Press, 2001); and American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which was named one of the top religion books for 2003 by Publishers Weekly. His more recent books include the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–and Doesn’t (HarperOne, 2007); God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter (HarperOne, 2010); The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation (HarperOne, 2012); and How Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections) (HarperOne, 2016). In addition, Prothero has published many essays in peer-reviewed journals and a variety of popular magazines and newspapers and served as a commentator on religion on national radio and television. He has been the recipient of many honors and awards for his work in the field of religion, including a Goldman Sachs Senior Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, along with numerous distinctions for his published work.
Professor Erin Murphy was awarded the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship. Established in 1993 with funds from a challenge grant that matched gifts from alumni and friends, the professorship recognizes excellence in teaching by a prominent teacher-scholar associated in some way with the Core Curriculum, and helps to aid undergraduate enrichment programs within the humanities. Murphy exemplifies the criteria for the professorship, having taught 18 different classes in her time at BU, ranging from a 100-level Shakespeare course to an interdisciplinary graduate seminar on gender and sexuality studies. This fall, she will teach yet another new class entitled “The Social Media of English Revolution: From the Pamphlet Wars to Paradise Lost.” In addition to her commitment to teaching, Murphy is an accomplished writer and scholar. Her book, Familial Forms: Politics and Genealogy in Seventeenth-Century English Literature (University of Delaware Press, 2010), examines how literary writers engaged the politics of genealogy that helped define England’s “century of revolution.” This study provided a new map of the seventeenth-century politics of family in England through an exploration of the work of John Milton, Lucy Hutchinson, John Dryden, and Mary Astell. Murphy was awarded the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016.