The University Record, October 1, 2001

Jonathan Freedman—Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award

Freedman (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)
With his astute literary and cultural analysis, including his original readings of Henry James and the role of cultural markets on literature, Jonathan Freedman has shed new light on the familiar and called attention to issues previously ignored, constructing challenging arguments about literary history and transmission. He also has had a marked and positive influence on the University’s intellectual life and sense of community since joining the faculty in 1991.

In two acclaimed books, Professor Freedman has explored British and American cultural aspirations. His first, Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture (Stanford University Press 1990), integrated thinking about literary narrative and theories of commodity culture. His national reputation was further enhanced by The Temple of Culture: Assimilation, Anti-Semitism and the Making of Literary Anglo-America (Oxford University Press 2000), which examines the contradictions surrounding cultural assimilation and the role of anti-Semitism in Anglo-American literature.

Through his research and teaching on Jewish identity, film and popular culture, he has contributed significantly to American Jewish history and studies. Professor Freedman’s essays have appeared with striking frequency in many of the leading literary and academic journals in the United States, including Raritan, American Literacy History, Publications of the Modern Language Association, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The enthusiasm and humor with which Professor Freedman approaches his teaching is infectious. He treats students with tremendous respect, displaying genuine interest in their thoughts and ideas, and builds bridges among communities of discourse on the topics of race and ethnicity.

Professor Freedman gives generously of his time and energy to the Program in American Culture, where he serves as acting director, and to the Department of English Language and Literature. In English, he helped initiate a new course that seeks to enlarge and deepen students’ engagement with the full diversity of American cultural expression.

His remarkable intellectual range and productivity have earned him numerous accolades, including a Michigan Humanities Award and fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the Guggenheim Foundation.

In recognition of his exemplary work in American letters and in American Jewish history and studies, as well as the energy and wit he brings to his teaching and administrative service, the University of Michigan is pleased to present to Jonathan Freedman its Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.