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Ryan Piurek
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Fedwa Malti-Douglas elected to American Philosophical Society

Fedwa Malti-Douglas

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Fedwa Malti-Douglas, the Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities at Indiana University Bloomington, has been elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the country. Malti-Douglas is only the fourth IU faculty member to receive this honor.

"As an immigrant and a naturalized citizen, I feel privileged to be a part of America's most exclusive and oldest learned society," said Malti-Douglas, a native of Lebanon who also is a professor of gender studies and comparative literature, and an adjunct professor of law at IUB. "I have always tried to push back the boundaries of the fields in which I worked, in both my teaching and my research. Hence, I find it validating personally for me that after having received the highest honors available in the Arab world, I should now be similarly recognized in the United States."

Previous IU honorees include the late geneticist Marcus Rhoades (elected in 1962), Distinguished Professor of Medicine Lawrence Einhorn (2001) and the late IU President Herman B Wells (1964).

The APS, which was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, recognizes extraordinary achievements in five classes of academic disciplines: mathematical and physical sciences; biological sciences; social sciences; humanities; and the arts, professions, and public and private affairs. Malti-Douglas is one of 10 new resident members in the humanities class. The APS has 912 current members, including 766 resident members and 146 foreign members.

This year's inductees include such notables as Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Washington Post chairman Donald Graham, award-winning author and historian David McCullough and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Noam Chomsky.

Malti-Douglas' intellectual focus has been on visual and verbal narratives, in both high and popular culture, especially as these intersect with issues of marginality, disability, gender and the body. Her work spans centuries and continents, exploring a wide range of subjects including classical literature, medieval history, Arabo-Islamic writing, gender relations, feminism, sexism, and privacy and disability law.

Malti-Douglas began her career as a medievalist and then turned her attention to the contemporary Middle East and North Africa, as well as to the immigrant populations in France and Belgium. In recent years, she has broadened her research area to include Europe, Latin America and the United States.

Malti-Douglas is the author of The Starr Report Disrobed (Columbia University Press, 2000), which earned her a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and Men, Women and God(s), which was chosen as a Centennial Book by the University of California Press in 1995. Her co-authored book Arab Comic Strips (Indiana University Press, 1994) was named a Reader's Catalog Selection (one of the Best Books in Print) by The New York Review of Books' Reader's Catalog. Additionally, her editorial writing has been published in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune.

Malti-Douglas has delivered annual, named and endowed lectures, served on editorial boards and visiting committees, and received numerous grants and awards, including a $100,000 award in 1997 from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.

The American Philosophical Society promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources and community outreach. Its membership has included some of the world's greatest thinkers, such as John J. Audubon, Robert Fulton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Alexander von Humboldt, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, George C. Marshall, Linus Pauling, Marie Curie and Margaret Mead. Over 200 members of the society have received the Nobel Prize.

Members are encouraged to participate in the society's fellowship, publications and committees and to attend bi-annual general meetings, during which they discuss current topics in history, science and the arts.

Malti-Douglas is looking forward to joining the discussion.

"The great debates of our age -- about artificial intelligence, about the manipulation of the genome, about new definitions of gender, of marriage and religion, even of liberty and security, and the clash of cultures -- all these debates involve central questions in the humanities," she said.

To speak to Malti-Douglas, contact Ryan Piurek, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-5393 or