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Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two IU professors join U.S. National Council on Humanities

May 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today (May 22) that two Indiana University professors are among six members who have joined the National Council on the Humanities, the Endowment's 26-member advisory council. They began their official duties today at the Council's quarterly meeting in Washington.

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Jamsheed K. Choksy

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IU professors Jamsheed Kairshasp Choksy and David Michael Hertz, who both teach in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, were two of three Hoosiers nominated by President George Bush this year to the council. Hertz was reappointed. Also selected was Marvin Bailey Scott, of Indianapolis. Their terms that will expire in 2014.

"I am pleased to welcome these distinguished scholars to the National Council," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "The experience and wisdom they bring from their respective fields will be of great value to the Endowment as they serve on the Council."

The National Council on the Humanities meets four times a year to review grant applications and to advise the NEH chairman.

Choksy, born in Mumbai, India, grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, before coming to the United States to attend Columbia University and Harvard University. Now a U.S. citizen, he is a professor of Central Eurasian studies and history, an adjunct professor of religious studies, and an affiliated faculty member of India studies and ancient studies at IU. He also has served as chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and as director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at IU.

A highly accomplished scholar and researcher, Choksy has been a recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, an American Philosophical Society Fellowship, and two research grants from the American Academy of Religion. He was selected as the Government of India Research Fellowship lecturer in 1998.

His research examines the development of sectarian communities in Central Asia, the Near East and South Asia -- where he has traveled extensively -- through interdisciplinary approaches involving anthropology, archeology, history, languages, linguistics, literatures, numismatics and religious studies.

Choksy is the author of three books: Evil, Good, and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History (Peter Lang Publishers, 2002); Conflict and Cooperation: Zoroastrian Subalterns and Muslim Elites in Medieval Iranian Society (Columbia University Press, 1997); and Purity and Pollution in Zoroastrianism: Triumph over Evil (University of Texas Press, 1989). He is currently writing a book on the history of Iranian religions for Harvard University Press and is an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender, 4 vols. (Macmillan, 2007).

Before joining IU, Choksy taught in the Department of History and the International Relations Program at Stanford University as a visiting assistant professor from 1991-1993. He was a member and a NEH Fellow at the School of Historical Studies in the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., from 1993-1994.

Hertz, who served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities from 2003-2006, is a professor of comparative literature at IU Bloomington and previously was chair of the department. He is also professor of West European studies and American studies, and he teaches annual undergraduate colloquia on music and culture in the Hutton Honors College.

His books include Tuning of the Word: The Musico-Literary Poetics of the Symbolist Movement (Southern Illinois University Press, 1987), Angels of Reality: Emersonian Unfoldings in Wright, Stevens, and Ives (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993) and Frank Lloyd Wright in Word and Form (G. K. Hall Macmillan & Co., 1995).

He has unusually wide-ranging interests in the humanities, and his writings include research in the fields of modern poetry, popular and classical music, drama and architectural history. A composer and pianist, Hertz is the co-founder of the Center for Comparative Arts at IU. Formerly a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at New York University, he has received a grant from the Chicago-based Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for the interdisciplinary study of music and Chicago architecture. He is listed in Who's Who Among College Teachers.

Hertz earned a bachelor of arts degree in comparative literature, a bachelor of science degree from the IU School of Music, and a master of arts degree in comparative literature, all at IU Bloomington. He went on to earn a doctorate in comparative literature from New York University, where he later began his career as assistant professor of comparative literature.

Hertz has co-organized several conferences around the world on the study of the sense of time in world poetry. He is currently finishing The Storm and The Sunflower of Eugenio Montale, a study of the Clizia myth in the works of the Italian modernist poet, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975.