June 6, 2002
Vol. 21 No. 17

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    Three scholars will receive honorary degrees during Convocation

    At the University’s 469th Convocation on Friday, June 7, three scholars will be presented with honorary degrees. The University confers honorary degrees exclusively in recognition of research and scholarship to individuals who have made significant contributions to their fields of study.

    During Session II of Spring Convocation, Fran┴ois Dolbeau, Salvatore Silvano Nigro and Orlando Patterson will each receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

    Dolbeau, Directeur d’Ètudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, France Section des sciences historiques et philologiques, is perhaps best known for the recognition, publication and interpretive study of 24 Latin sermons preserved in a manuscript from the 1400s. Dolbeau knew to credit the manuscripts to St. Augustine, as he had dictated them in the early 400s.

    This work prompted a major reassessment of the pastoral and social concerns of Augustine, whose writings from 5th-century North Africa often set terms of discourse for subsequent Western tradition.

    A leading figure in the interpretation of manuscript sources in the age before print, Dolbeau has rewritten chapters on the end of the Ancient World and on the new Christian literary sensibilities of the Medieval World.

    Dolbeau will be presented by Michael Allen, Assistant Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures.

    Literary and art critic, essayist and historian of Italian literature Salvatore Silvano Nigro, also is professor of Italian literature at the University of Catania.

    He has written articles and books dealing with Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and contemporary Italian literature, including his work on the Italian short story of the 15th century, dissimulation in the Baroque and the interrelationship of text and illustration in I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), the masterpiece of Alessando Manzoni, Italy’s most famous novelist.

    An art historian, as well, Nigro has written on the Sicilian Baroque and the Florentine mannerist Jacopo Pontormo.

    His cultural influence reaches to some of Italy’s most noted presses, for which he is a series director. He also regularly contributes to several literary reviews.

    Nigro will be presented by Elissa Weaver, Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and the College.

    Orlando Patterson, professor of sociology at Harvard University, has been a pioneer in conceptualizing and analyzing the phenomenon of slavery in many different societies.

    Overturning the standard Marxist and racist positions, Patterson identified slavery as relations of domination and showed how the transitional state of emancipation and the freed status that resulted from it were used to justify the institution.

    In his work, Patterson has traced the common patterns of slavery in societies from Ancient Greece and Rome to the American South. He continued this research, discovering the roots of the Western concept of freedom in the different dynamics of ancient slaveholding societies.

    Patterson will be presented by Andrew Abbott, Chairman of Sociology and the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Professor in Sociology and the College.