December 03, 2009


By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — William Holzberger,  professor emeritus of English at Bucknell University, has been honored by the Modern Language Association with the 10th Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters.

Holzberger received the award for The Letters of George Santayana, Book Seven, 1941-1947 and Book Eight, 1948-1052, published by MIT Press.

The Cohen Award, established in 1989 by a gift from Morton N. Cohen, professor emeritus of English at the City University of New York, is one of 18 awards to be presented Dec. 28 during the Modern Language Association's (MLA) annual convention in Philadelphia.

"Professor Holzberger has been at the center of this monumental project for decades," said John Rickard, professor of English and department chair at Bucknell. "It pleases me to see that the MLA is honoring him. He has set a fine example of scholarly excellence and dedication."

Laudable citation
The members of the selection committee were Virginia Jackson, Tufts University; Mary Beth Rose, University of Illinois, Chicago; and Frank Shuffelton, University of Rochester, chair.

"These volumes complete an important project, publishing a scholarly edition of the complete correspondence of George Santayana, a major figure in the history of American philosophy and cultural criticism," the committee's citation for the winning edition reads.

"The letters cover the last years of Santayana's life — those spent in Rome, where he was in effect trapped by World War II — and the years after the war during which he prepared his final publications and was visited by many American admirers," the citation says. "Holzberger admirably documents this period of Santayana's life with carefully edited texts, thoughtful and comprehensive introductions, and supporting notes and apparatuses that are never obtrusive and invariably helpful."

Holzberger, who taught at Bucknell from 1969 to 1997, is the editor of The Complete Poems of George Santayana: A Critical Edition and was textual editor of The Works of George Santayana until 2005.

He has received professional awards and fellowships from organizations such as the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

His articles have appeared in publications such as Southern Review; Dictionary of Literary Biography, American Poets, 1881-1945; and A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory. He holds master's degrees in philosophy and English and a doctorate in English from Northwestern University.

The Morton N. Cohen Award is presented biennially by the MLA, the largest and one of the oldest American learned societies in the humanities. Established in 1883, the MLA exists to advance literary and linguistic studies. The 30,000 members of the association come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. PMLA, the flagship journal of the association, has published distinguished scholarly articles for more than 100 years.

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