Boston University’s James Winn Named Warren Distinguished Professor

in College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, News Releases, University Affairs
September 2nd, 2009

Contact: Colin Riley, 617-353-2240 |

(Boston) – James A. Winn, a College of Arts & Sciences English Language & Literature faculty member, and director of the Boston University Humanities Foundation, was named a Boston University William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor for his exceptional scholarship, research, teaching and service, announced Robert A. Brown, BU president. Winn is the fifth BU professor to receive the university’s most prestigious honor for a faculty member.

“The Warren Professorships were established as a mechanism for recognizing our most distinguished faculty,” said Brown. “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Winn.”

Instituted in 2008 and named for the university’s first president, each appointee receives an endowed chair supported by the William Fairfield Warren fund. The Warren Professorships were established on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Council as a way of recognizing BU’s most pre-eminent faculty. In making its recommendations to President Brown, the committee took into consideration the research, scholarship, teaching, and service of each nominee.

Professor Winn received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Princeton University in 1968, and then earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1974, writing his dissertation on the letters of Alexander Pope. He taught at Yale from 1974 to 1983, then at the University of Michigan until 1998, when he joined the faculty of Boston University. He served as chairman of the Department of English for a number of years before accepting the position of director of the Boston University Humanities Foundation in 2008. In this capacity, he promotes scholarship in the humanities by grants, awards and interdisciplinary programs.

Winn specializes in the literature of England in the Restoration and early eighteenth century; he also explores the relations between literature and the other arts. He is a prolific author, and has written books and articles on subjects ranging from Dryden and Pope, to Faulkner, the Beatles, deconstruction, and dissonance. He is a concert flutist and frequently performs with members of the music faculty at the College of Fine Arts. He has received numerous grants and awards, including a Mellon Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, an American Council of Learned Societies Senior Fellowship, the British Humanities Council Prize, and the Yale University Press Governor’s Award.

“I think of this award not simply as a recognition of my own scholarship and teaching, but more importantly as a symbolic endorsement of three kinds of work in which I have tried to be active: the broad and deep investigation of cultures that we call the humanities, the respect for past wisdom that drives all historical work, and the willingness to cross disciplinary borders that often enables fresh thinking,” said Winn. “I am by no means unique here at BU in caring about the humanities, the past, and the possibilities of interdisciplinary work. I hope that my being singled out will be encouraging to others who work in these vital areas.”

Professor Winn joins George Annas, the Edward R. Utley Professor of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights and chair of the School of Public Health department of health law, bioethics, and human rights; and James Collins, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering, whose awards were announced in May `09. In June, the appointments of Nancy J. Kopell, the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Mathematics and Science in the College of Arts & Sciences and co-founder and co-director of the Center for Biodynamics at the College of Engineering; and Laurence Kotlikoff, a professor of economics in the College of Arts & Sciences, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Econometric Society, were announced.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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