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Professors Andrew Delbanco and Frank A. Guridy are winners of the Lionel Trilling Book Award and Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Academic Awards Committee of Columbia College is pleased to announce that Andrew Delbanco, the Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies, has been awarded the 44th annual Lionel Trilling Book Award for his book The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America's Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War, and that Frank A. Guridy, associate professor of history and African American studies, has been awarded the 58th annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching for his “Humanity, Devotion to Truth and Inspiring Leadership.”

Selected by a committee of Columbia College students that recognizes faculty members for their contributions to academia and publishing, the honorees will receive their awards at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 1 at 6:00 p.m. in Low Library’s Faculty Room.

Andrew Delbanco

Andrew Delbanco, the Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies

The Lionel Trilling Book Award, established in 1976 in honor of Lionel Trilling CC’25, GSAS’38, is awarded annually to a member of the faculty whose book was published in the previous year and upholds a level of excellence commensurate with Trilling’s legacy. Trilling was a gifted and dedicated Columbia professor committed to undergraduate education, and was a public intellectual known for his scholarship and literary criticism.

“Professor Andrew Delbanco’s book struck us as illuminating and engrossing, especially given the lingering vestiges of slavery that affect our current political climate,” John Park CC'19, the Lionel Trilling Book Award chair, said of The War Before the War. “By synthesizing various sources, it not only offers a comprehensive analysis on the legacy of slavery, but also grapples with the moral and political complexity surrounding these issues.”

Committee members were also suitably impressed by Delbanco’s contextualizing Antebellum America with modern debates such as immigrant rights, culminating in a book that acutely engages with the past as a way of gaining insight into the present.

Delbanco, a past winner of the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates and a two-time past winner off the Lionel Trilling Book Award (in 1990 for The Puritan Ordeal and in 2006 for Melville: His World and Work), graduated with a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1980 and taught there briefly before joining Columbias faculty in 1985. He held the Julian Clarence Levi Chair in the Humanities for 20 years and was the director of American studies from 2005 to 2015. Delbanco is the author of several books, including College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (2012); Melville: His World and Work (2005); The Death of Satan (1995); Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now (1997); The Real American Dream (1999); and The Puritan Ordeal (1989). He is also a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New Republic and other journals.

Delbanco was named by Time magazine as “America's Best Social Critic” and, in February 2012, he was presented with a National Humanities Medal by then-President Barack Obama CC’83 for his writings on higher education and the place classic authors hold in history and contemporary life. Delbanco is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society; a trustee of the Teagle Foundation and the Library of America; and trustee emeritus of the National Humanities Center.

Frank A. Guridy

Frank Guridy, associate professor of history and African American studies

The Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching — established in honor of Mark Van Doren GSAS’20, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, novelist, playwright, critic, editor and biographer, as well as a renowned scholar and legendary Columbia faculty member — has been awarded annually since 1962 in recognition of a faculty member’s humanity, devotion to truth and inspiring leadership.

In Fall 2017, Guridy began teaching “Columbia 1968,” a course in the Department of History that is a seminar modeled on the successful “Columbia and Slavery” course. It encouraged students and those interested in Columbia and Morningside Heights history to re-examine one of the most important historical events to take place in the University’s history, the history of the Black Freedom Struggle and the anti-War movement of the 1960s.

Prior to this arrival at Columbia in 2015, Guridy taught at the University of Texas at Austin for 12 years. He specializes in urban history, sport history and 20th century social movements and is the author of the award-winning Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow (2010). He is also the co-editor of Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latino/a America (2010), with Gina Pérez and Adrian Burgos, Jr. His articles have appeared in the Radical History Review, Caribbean Studies, Social Text and Cuban Studies. His current research has shifted to U.S. sport and urban history, focusing on the relationship of sport to urban political economies and recreational life in the United States.

“Inside the classroom, our committee members were impressed by both Professor Guridy’s ability to engage with his students in thoughtful conversation, and the obvious passion with which he taught,” said Andy Xie CC’19, the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching chair. “Outside of the classroom, we received many accounts of Professor Guridy’s warmth and devotion towards his students on an individual level. We were also impressed by his scholarship of the history of the African Diaspora in America, as well as his scholarship of the history of New York, much of which at times examines Columbia itself.”

About the Academic Awards Committee

The Academic Awards Committee of Columbia College is composed of nine students who represent a cross-section of classes and majors. The group meets throughout the academic year to determine the professor and book most fitting for awards, reading the books of Trilling Award nominees and auditing the courses of Van Doren Award nominees. This year the committee relied on each other's reports of the classes and books in order to examine and understand all aspects of the member's experience.

The Van Doren Award criteria includes class presentation of material, undergraduate community involvement and mentorship of students. Trilling Award nominations are considered for style, accessibility, scholarship, relevance and whether or not the committee would recommend the book to peers.

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