University of Rochester

Joan Rubin Elected to the Society of American Historians

September 25, 2009

Joan Shelley Rubin, professor of history at the University of Rochester, has been elected a Fellow of the Society of American Historians, a highly selective group of 250 professional historians noted for their literary distinction.

The honor, given to about a dozen scholars each year, recognizes Rubin "as among our finest writers in American history," wrote Mark Carnes, executive secretary of the society and professor of history at Barnard College and Columbia University. Rubin joins one other SAH fellow at the University of Rochester, Thomas Slaughter, the Arthur R. Miller Professor of History, who was elected to the society last year.

In her work, Rubin looks broadly at the values, assumptions, and anxieties that have shaped American life, as reflected in both high culture and the experiences of ordinary people. Most recently, she co-edited a volume for History of the Book in America (UNC Press, 2009) which explores print culture in postwar America, including the impact of electronic media. Her cultural history, Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America (Harvard University Press, 2007), "dignifies the comfort, pleasure and emotional richness readers found in popular poetry," wrote the New York Times Sunday Book Review. An earlier study of the literary scene in the interwar period, The Making of Middlebrow Culture (UNC Press, 1992), was praised for allowing readers to "see more clearly why American book culture, for better and for worse, is what it is today,"

Founded in 1939, the Society of American Historians promotes literary excellence in historical and biographical writing through prizes, the promotion of historical studies, and collaboration with publishers.