Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate School News and Events

Alumni Spotlight

Wilbur Cross Medalists to be honored October 11

The Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, the Graduate School’s highest honor, will be awarded to four outstanding alumni on October 11 by the Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA). This year’s Medalists are John Aber (BS 1971; MFS 1973; PhD 1976, Forestry and Environmental Studies); Alfred W. McCoy (PhD 1977, History); Jonathan M. Rothberg (PhD 1991, Biology); and Sarah Grey Thomason (PhD 1968, Linguistics).

While on campus, the Medalists will present talks that are open to the entire Yale community.

  • Aber, University Professor and Provost of the University of New Hampshire, will speak on “Thinking like an ecosystem: from forests and pastures, to the globe,” at noon in Kroon Hall’s Burke Auditorium, 195 Prospect Street.
  • McCoy, the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will give a talk titled “Covert netherworld: the impact of American empire on U.S. state formation and global surveillance” at 4:00 pm, HGS, Room 211.
  • Rothberg is founder and CEO of Ion Torrent Systems, Inc., in Guilford, Connecticut. He will speak on “The development of high-speed DNA sequencing: Neanderthal, Moore, and you,” at 4:00 pm, Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Avenue.
  • Thomason, the William J. Gedney Collegiate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, will present “When is language contact the best explanation for a linguistic change?” Her talk will be held at 10:30 am, Whitney Humanities Center, Room 208, 53 Wall Street.

To cap the celebration, a private dinner will be held at the Yale Center for British Art, at which the Medals will be officially conferred by Dean Pollard, President Levin (PhD 1974, Economics), and Valerie Hotchkiss (PhD 1990, Medieval Studies), chair of the GSAA.

Next month’s newsletter will introduce each of these outstanding alumni in greater detail.


Alumnus wins Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

Stephen Greenblatt (BA, 1964; PhD, 1969, English), the Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard and one of the world’s leading literary scholar-critics, won both the National Book Award for Nonfiction and this year’s Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (W.W. Norton and Company).

The Pulitzer committee called The Swerve “a provocative book arguing that an obscure work of philosophy, discovered nearly 600 years ago, changed the course of history by anticipating the science and sensibilities of today.” In the book, Greenblatt reconstructs the moment in which the papal bureaucrat and book-hunter Poggio Bracciolini recovered the lost first-century BCE poem, “On the Nature of Things,” by the Roman philosopher Lucretius. The poem, Greenblatt shows, had a powerful influence on Renaissance writers and artists and laid the groundwork for such thinkers as Galileo and Freud, Darwin, and Einstein.

Greenblatt is general editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and The Norton Shakespeare, and author of ten other books, including the recent best-selling biographical study, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (2004). Among his other groundbreaking books are Hamlet in Purgatory (2002), and Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (1991). He has led a movement in literary criticism known as “New Historicism,” an approach that engages the historical world in which works of literature are written and read.

Greenblatt has given endowed lectures and keynote addresses at universities and scholarly conferences around the world. His many honors and awards include the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Independent Publisher Book Award for Biography (2005), the Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award (2002), and the Erasmus Institute Prize (2002). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, Greenblatt was named a Wilbur Cross Medalist, the highest honor the Graduate School bestows on its alumni.

Jonathan Rothberg

Jonathan Rothberg

Stephen Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt