French government confers knighthood on DesanPhilippe Desan, Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division, has been named by the French government Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight in the Order of the Academic Palms).
The consul general of France presented the award to Desan in a Nov. 15 ceremony following a meeting of the College Council.
The honor is the highest distinction in France for academics and artists and is given to "those who have contributed to the development of arts, letters and sciences or those who have distinguished themselves within the university."
The order was created in 1808 and since 1921 has been conferred by the prime minister and the minister of education of France. It is the French equivalent of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The award certificate, signed by the French minister of education, noted Desan's "services rendered to national education" and stated that this "highest distinction expresses the recognition by the French authorities of [Desan's] relentless actions in favor of the French language and culture in the United States and is an homage to [Desan's] merits as a scholar."
"I am proud to receive such an honor during the year that marks my 10th anniversary at the University of Chicago," Desan said. "I will continue to make the University a visible 'appendix' of French scholarship and culture in America."
Among Desan's fields of specialization are Renaissance and 19th-century literature, Renaissance philosophy, semiotics and the sociology of culture and literature. He has received numerous honors, awards and grants for his work, including the Medaille de la ville de Bordeaux for his work on the French writer Montaigne.
He is the author and editor of numerous books and has written extensively for a range of academic journals. His most recent books are L'Imaginaire economique de la Renaissance (1993) and Penser l'Histoire a la Renaissance (1993). His forthcoming book Montaigne is to be published in France in 1995.
Desan received his Ph.D. in 1984 from the University of California, Davis. He joined the Chicago faculty as Assistant Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures in 1984 and was named Associate Professor in 1989 and Professor in 1992. He is also serving as Acting Dean of the Humanities Division this quarter, while Philip Gossett is on leave.