Emory Report
December 6, 2004
Volume 57, Number 14


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December 6 , 2004
Sander Gilman to bring broad scholarship to Emory

BY Elaine Justice

Provost Earl Lewis announced recently that renowned cultural and literary historian Sander Gilman will join Emory’s faculty as Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Sciences, effective July 1, 2005.

“Sander Gilman is an internationally recognized scholar of immense stature and accomplishment,” Lewis said. “He brings a broad commitment to interdisciplinary work, a foundation in the humanities and a view on the world that will benefit our students and enrich our intellectual community as we build for the future.”

Bobby Paul, dean of Emory College, where Gilman will be based, said Gilman “stands in the very first rank of contemporary cultural historians.”

“What is truly remarkable,” Paul said, “is how well his vast array of research interests connects with the outstanding programs at Emory that will be strengthened by his presence: comparative literature, German studies, science and society, health, culture and society, Jewish studies, psychoanalytic studies, disability studies, and many more.”

The 60-year-old Gilman currently is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is on leave this year as the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature at Oxford University.

Gilman said he was attracted to Emory by “the diversity of faculty and programs and the opportunity to interact with graduate students and colleagues in a number of departments. I am taken by the wide range of exciting scholars and engaged students at Emory who are committed to interdisciplinary scholarship.”

Gilman will be teaching a two-semester course next fall on the history of diets and dieting. He said he hopes the course will bring together graduates and undergraduates from different disciplines and schools. Students of all levels will be doing original research, as the course’s end product will be a collaborative book on diets and dieting for a major American publisher.

“The idea is to learn how to do research,” Gilman said. “how to write and how to think critically, and to have something at the end that is a real contribution to knowledge, not just an exercise filed in the trash.”

A prolific scholar, Gilman is the author of more than 70 books. His most recent edited volume, SMOKE: A Global History of Smoking (with Zhou Xun of the University of London) was published this month by Reaktion Books. His first biography, Jurek Becker: A Life in Five Worlds, appeared in 2003, and his widely reviewed monograph, Fat Boys: A Slim Book, appeared in 2004.

Gilman is the author of the basic study of the visual stereotyping of the mentally ill, Seeing the Insane (1982, reprinted 1996), as well as the standard study of Jewish Self-Hatred, published in 1986. He said he also is interested in pursuing the question of “whether the experience of Jews in Europe during the 19th century can teach us something about the conflicts and changes facing Muslims there today.”

For 25 years, Gilman was a member of the humanities and medical faculties at Cornell University, where he held the Goldwin Smith Professorship of Humane Studies. For six years he held the Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professorship of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology at the University of Chicago.