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James Winn Named Warren Distinguished Professor

Award honors outstanding senior faculty

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James Winn, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English, has been named a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

BU President Robert A. Brown has tapped College of Arts & Sciences English Professor James Winn for the University’s highest faculty honor, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professorship.

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

Winn is director of BU’s Humanities Foundation and a former chair of the CAS English department. His scholarly work has focused on the literature of England in the Restoration and the early 18th century. Before joining BU, he taught at Yale University and the University of Michigan, where he was founding director of the Institute for the Humanities. A prolific author, Winn is best known for his biography of John Dryden, John Dryden and His World, which won the British Humanities Council Prize and the Yale University Press Board of Governors’ Award. His most recent book is The Poetry of War. Watch Winn discuss the book on BUniverse.

“I think of this award not simply as a recognition of my own scholarship and teaching,” says Winn, “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. 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.”

He also has a broad interest in the relationship between literature and other arts and is an accomplished flutist. He studied with Francis Fuge of the Louisville Orchestra and Samuel Baron of the Bach Aria Group and has won concerto competitions sponsored by the Louisville Orchestra, the Princeton University Orchestra, and the Yale Symphony. He has performed live on WQXR, New York, and WGBH, Boston.

Winn is the fifth professor to receive a Warren Professorship. He 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; James Collins, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering; Nancy J. Kopell, the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Mathematics and Science in the College of Arts & Sciences; and Laurence Kotlikoff, a CAS professor of economics. Those appointments were announced in the spring.

Named for the University’s first president, William Fairfield Warren (1873-1903), the professorships were established last year on the recommendation of an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Council. Brown says the award is intended to be the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members, who will continue to be involved in research, scholarship, and teaching. Each appointee receives an endowed chair supported by the William Fairfield Warren Fund. After a call for nominations last fall, the committee reviewed candidates and made recommendations to Brown, who selected the honorees.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.

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