Amy-Jill Levine and Hortense Spillers, Vanderbilt Pioneer Fellows, elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences | Vanderbilt News
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced the election of two esteemed Vanderbilt faculty members, Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies, and Hortense Spillers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English. They are among the 252 new members selected for the academy in 2021.
“Vanderbilt is honored that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected two extraordinary members of our preeminent faculty,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier mentionned. “Amy-Jill Levine and Hortense Spillers represent the best in academia. They both had a profound impact in their respective fields and, as a result, broadened humanity’s understanding of our common experience.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed that the New Republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and involve them in the advancement of the public good. It is one of the oldest and most distinguished learned societies in the country.
“The election of Professors Levine and Spillers to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences provides well-deserved recognition of their enduring scholarship,” said Susan r wente, provost and vice-chancellor of academic affairs. “I join with their fellow faculty in congratulating the two on this remarkable achievement.”
Levine is one of the primary authorities on New Testament studies and the historical context of Jesus and Christianity. She is an Affiliate Professor at the Center for the Study of Judeo-Christian Relations at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, UK.
His books include The misunderstood Jew: the Church and the scandal of the Jewish Jesus (a Editor’s Weekly Best Book of 2007); News of Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi; The Meaning of the Bible: What We Can Learn from the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament (with Douglas Knight); The New Testament, Methods and Meanings (with Warren Carter); and The Gospel of Luke (with Ben Witherington III). His most recent book is The Bible with and without Jesus, co-written with Marc Z. Brettler. With Brettler, she co-edited The Jewish Annotated New Testament.
Her children’s books (with Sandy Sasso) include Who counts? 100 sheep, 10 pieces and 2 wires; The wonderful mustard seed; Who is my neighbor ?; A very big problem; and the next boardbook, 100 sheep: a counting dish.
Levine has received grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has held positions with the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies.
Spillers is a renowned researcher and critic who has written extensively on black feminism and African American literature.
His collection of essays, Black, White, and Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2003), includes thoughts on authors such as Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Faulkner. She co-edited (with Marjorie Pryse) Invocation: black women, fiction and literary tradition (Indiana University Press, 1985).
Spillers sits on a number of editorial boards, including the editorial collective of limit 2, and is a former member of the Executive Board of the Modern Languages Association. Some of his more recent essays have appeared in The new centenary magazine, das argument, and limit 2. With Tamura Lomax, she co-founded The feminist thread, an online magazine dedicated to feminist issues and criticism.
Among his many honors and awards are grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Spillers was also a member of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and the Center for the Study of the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, California.
She was interviewed for the 2014 documentary Dreams are colder than death, which was screened on campus during the symposium “The African Diaspora in the World”. In 2017, she was honored by the Caribbean Philosophical Association with the Nicolás Guillén Lifetime Achievement Award for her groundbreaking work in philosophical literary theory, which covers the course of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences.