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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009

With latest honor, Hofstadter is IU's first-ever Pulitzer, APS, AAAS triple honoree

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Hofstadter fifth American Philosophical Society fellow now at IU

May 7, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Little more than a week after election as a fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science Douglas Hofstadter has been elected a fellow of the American Philosophical Society.

With the honor, Hofstadter becomes the first faculty member in Indiana University history to hold fellowships in the two prestigious societies and to have won a Pulitzer Prize, placing him among a group of 16 people worldwide with the same distinction. That group includes Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, three-time Pulitzer winner Thomas Friedman and historians David Brion Davis of Yale, David M. Kennedy of Stanford and Oscar Handlin, retired from Harvard.

"The talent, energy and intellectual prowess of distinguished professor Douglas Hofstadter has once again been underscored with his election to one of our nation's most prestigious academic societies, and this in turn has placed him in a truly unique context within the long history of Indiana University," said Indiana University President Michael McRobbie. "These remarkable commendations are the fruits borne from an academic career built on a foundation of passion and creativity and that has fully spanned the arts and sciences. We here at IU are immensely proud to be associated with this great American thinker and scholar. Dr. Hofstadter's elite status is well-deserved."

Self-described as a man "perpetually in search of beauty," Hofstadter was appointed to the IU faculty in 1977 two years after completing a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oregon. He earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Stanford, where his father Robert Hofstadter was a Nobel Prize-winning professor of physics, and then received his master's in physics from Oregon.

He becomes one of five IU faculty members to hold fellowship in APS, the oldest learned society in the U.S., and was among a class of 30 new 2009 U.S. fellows and five international fellows that included Philip Glass, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Adobe Systems founder John Warnock and Pierre Deligne of the Institute for Advanced Study. Other APS members from IU are psychologist Rich Shiffrin, cancer researcher Larry Einhorn, humanities professor Fedwa Malti-Douglas and political scientist Elinor Ostrom.

A professor of cognitive science, Hofstadter also directs the Fluid Analogies Research Group at the Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition, where he and his graduate students have been making computational models of human concepts and the human faculty of analogy-making for over 25 years.

One of seven Pulitzer Prize winners associated with IU, Hofstadter won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize and American Book Award for his first book, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, and in 2007 his book I Am a Strange Loop received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. He was a 1980-81 Guggenheim Fellow and from 1981 to 1983 Hofstadter wrote a column for Scientific American called Metamagical Themas, from which a book of that title was later published.

He has worked extensively on translation, in 1997 publishing Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, a wide-ranging volume on words, concepts, analogies, form and content centered on the beauty of verse in translation. In 1999 he came out with a metrical and rhyming translation of Pushkin's classic novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin, the book that Russians universally think of as the peak of their national literature.

His most recent work, released last month, is a pair of books bound together back-to-back, with a translation of French novelist Françoise Sagan's novel La Chamade, which is anagrammatically retitled in English as That Mad Ache, found in one half and an essay on the paradoxes of translation titled Translator, Trader in the other.

To speak with Hofstadter, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or

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