The 2010 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, honoring emeriti professors in the University of California system, has been awarded to UC Santa Cruz professor emeritus of literature Harry Berger Jr.
The award, which pays tribute to the post-retirement contributions of UC faculty, was presented this year to both Berger and Arend Lijphart, professor emeritus of political science at UC San Diego.
Berger, a founding faculty member of UC Santa Cruz, is known for his wide-ranging and interdisciplinary approach that goes far beyond traditional academic boundaries.
Last year, Fordham University Press published A Touch More Rare: Harry Berger, Jr. and the Art of Interpretation, celebrating more than four decades of groundbreaking work by Berger.
The book's 19 essays serve as a tribute to a revered and respected literary and cultural critic, whose vast body of work led to his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.
Berger studied literature and art history at Yale University, where he earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in English and taught for 12 years. He came to UC Santa Cruz in 1965 where he taught a variety of subjects under the general category of culture theory and Renaissance culture, including Renaissance drama and Shakespeare.
In art history, he specialized in Italian and Dutch painting and the theory and practice of portraiture.
Berger has published extensively over the years, with numerous books and more than 100 articles to his credit. Although he retired in the 1990s, Berger continues to teach classes as an emeritus professor at UCSC, as well as lead seminars for faculty and students at such venues as the Newberry Library and the Shakespeare Society of America.
Since his retirement, Berger has written dozens of articles and completed nine books. He has plans to publish four books this year alone-on Spenser, Shakespeare, Dutch still-life, and Plato's Republic-illustrating the depth of scholarship that led the Modern Language Association in 2003 to dedicate a panel to his impact on literary studies.
"Although the breadth of Berger's work is awesome, he doesn't dabble," said David Lee Miller, co-editor of A Touch More Rare: Harry Berger Jr. and the Arts of Interpretation. "When he turns to art history, he challenges and transforms the field's repertoire of methodologies.whatever his mind touches starts to glow."
Miller also noted "the special ethos of Berger's work, which makes us all feel as if the world of scholarship might still turn out to be the kind of clean, well-lighted place we imagined it would be when we were still students, peering in from the outside and idealizing our teachers."
A conference to celebrate the ongoing career of Harry Berger, Jr. will take place May 20, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Cowell College Conference Room. A reception will immediately follow the conference. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Amy Tessier at firstname.lastname@example.org.