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Henry Glassie
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Jason Baird Jackson
Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2009

IU Professor Henry Glassie wins Haskins Prize for lifetime achievement

Nov. 30, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Henry Glassie, College Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, has been awarded the Charles Homer Haskins Prize of the American Council of Learned Societies.

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Henry Glassie

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It is one of America's major awards for a lifetime of scholarly achievement. Glassie will deliver the Haskins Prize Lecture at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

Named for the first chairman of ACLS, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture series celebrates scholarly careers of distinctive importance.

In announcing Glassie's selection, the ACLS called Glassie "one of the intellectual leaders who broadened the discipline of folklore from a study of the texts of ballads and tales into a kind of descriptive and interpretive ethnography."

The ACLS is a private nonprofit federation of 70 national scholarly organizations and is considered the pre-eminent representative of humanities scholarship in the United States.

"This award affirms what we have known for a very long time at IU," said Bennett I. Bertenthal, James H. Rudy Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Professor Glassie's formidable contributions to folklore extend well beyond one discipline, and the award will provide an opportunity for many new scholars to become familiar with his work."

"Deeply gratified by this prize, I am proud to be the first folklorist so honored, amazed to find myself in the company of such past recipients as Yi-Fu Tuan, Helen Vendler, Clifford Geertz, and Bill Labov and pleased to have won it as a member of the faculty of Indiana University," Glassie said.

Jason Baird Jackson, chair of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, noted that the Haskins Prize recognizes Glassie's extensive body of work.

"With this prize, the ACLS is recognizing both a lifetime of transformative work by our colleague Henry Glassie and the crucial role that the discipline of folklore studies plays linking the humanities and the social sciences," Jackson said. "His works and his leadership have permanently enriched our field and the human worlds that we study."

In making its selection, the ACLS noted Glassie's unique commitment to traditional art and artists.

"The formidable comprehensiveness of his first book, Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1969) demonstrated that material culture studies had to take in the history not only of objects, but also of the human artists who produced them," the organization said in its announcement.

Glassie has written five books about Irish culture, including Passing the Time in Ballymenone (Indiana University Press, 1995), in which he presented a comprehensive review of folklife in the Ulster community. It won the Chicago Folklore Prize and the Haney Prize in the Social Sciences, and it was named a notable book of the year by the New York Times. In 2006, he produced a follow-up work, The Stars of Ballymenone (IU Press, 2006).

"His first major ethnography, Passing the Time in Ballymenone, demonstrated the centrality of folklore to people's lives in times of dreadful crisis, and pioneered the interdisciplinary breadth of folkloristics by embracing Irish vernacular architecture, folksinging, material culture, storytelling, oral history, and farming practices," the ACLS observed.

Throughout his career, Glassie has studied the cultures of traditional communities around the world. He has documented his fieldwork in award-winning books on life in rural Virginia, Turkey, and Bangladesh. He also has been the recipient of the Award of Honor for Superior Service to Turkish Culture from the Ministry of Culture of the Turkish Republic and the Friend of Bangladesh Award in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution toward Bangladesh from the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America.

Glassie's latest book, a biography of the Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven-Seven, will be published in January 2010 by IU Press.

Glassie began his career as the state folklorist of Pennsylvania, then taught at the University of Pennsylvania and IU. At both universities, he served as chairman of the folklore department. He also served as president of the American Folklore Society and president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.