Jonathan Holloway and Annabel Patterson Win Top Teaching Prize

For four decades now, members of the Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa — both current students and alumni — have gathered at an annual banquet to pay tribute to their current and former teachers by presenting them with the DeVane Award, the University’s oldest and highest-ranking award for undergraduate teaching.

This year, the honored faculty members were Jonathan Holloway, professor of history, African-American studies and American studies, and master of Calhoun College; and Annabel Patterson, Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and a lecturer for Special Programs in the Humanities.

The DeVane Award (formerly known as the DeVane Medal) honors excellence in both scholarship and teaching. It is named for William Clyde DeVane, who was dean of Yale College 1938-1963 and served as president both of the Yale and United chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. DeVane was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Senate.

Yale College seniors choose an honoree from among faculty members who have been teaching at the University for at least five years, while graduate members of Phi Beta Kappa select a retired faculty member for the honor. Thus, Holloway was chosen by the undergraduates, and Patterson by the alumni.

Honoring Holloway

Holloway is primarily interested in race politics and identity in post-emancipation America. He teaches courses on post-emancipation social, cultural and intellectual history.

In fact, his lecture course “African-American History: From Emancipation to the Present” is “hailed by undergraduates as one of the must-takes at Yale,” noted Monica J. Wood ‘09, the undergraduate president of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, who read a tribute to the professor.

“Day after day, lecture after lecture, Professor Holloway continues to engage his students by his infectious energy and enthusiasm for sharing the unique history that has shaped this country,” said Wood. “He enlightens them by showing the social, cultural and intellectual fabric of our time through the lens of the rich African-American experience, while making the learning process deeply personal.”

Noting that, as master of Calhoun College since 2005, Holloway’s “impact on undergraduate life extends well beyond the classroom and beyond his field,” Wood added that “Dr. J, as we affectionately call him, is an outstanding leader who teaches by example. Through his commitment to community, he inspires us to care for each other and to hold each other accountable for our actions, in triumphant moments and challenging times alike.”

Holloway, who holds a Ph.D. from Yale (1995) is the author of “Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941” (2002); the editor of Ralph Bunche’s “A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership” (2005), and the co-editor of the anthology “Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the Twentieth Century” (2007). He is pursuing an interdisciplinary history of memory and racial humiliation in his next book, “Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory, Identity, and Politics in Black America, 1941-2000.”

Applauding Patterson

Patterson, a scholar of Renaissance and early modern literature and culture, has had “an explosive impact on the teaching and advising of graduate students” since arriving at Yale in 1994, noted John Rogers, professor and director of undergraduate studies in English, in a tribute to his colleague.

“Like the early modern writers she has written so brilliantly about - Spenser and Sidney, Marvell, Milton and Locke - Annabel Patterson is an activist,” said Rogers, adding that all her graduate students “felt the special pressure she applied to the undertaking of literary study, and in fact the pressure she seemed to apply to the more general life of the mind itself: and that was the pressure of relevance. …

“[S]he expected that their work be relevant to the profession, that it be somehow materially engaged with the urgent questions of literary study, broadly conceived; in short, that it would be work that someone might actually want to read. A novel idea!” said Rogers, adding that Patterson has “permanently changed the way we conduct the business of graduate education in the department.”

Patterson’s books include studies of such major Renaissance authors as Shakespeare, Marvell and Milton, as well as broader literary inquiries: “Hermogenes and the Renaissance,” “Censorship and Interpretation,” “Fables of Power,” “Reading Between the Lines” and “Reading Holinshed’s Chronicles.” Her edited works are “Roman Images,” “Converging Disciplines at Duke” and “John Milton.” Patterson also wrote the introduction to a 1995 edition of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” which was part of the series “Shakespearean Originals.” Known for her cross-disciplinary approach to literary studies, particularly for her merging of literature and history, she has also written more than 40 articles.

A song for Stern

While most of the evening’s accolades went to Holloway and Patterson, the banquet’s featured speaker — Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture — was also given a special tribute.

In introducing the dean, the Whiffenpoofs performed a song in his honor to the tune of “McNamara’s Band.”

The first chorus of the song went: “His name is Robert Stern and he’s the leader of our band/He’s made Yale’s Architecture School the finest in the land/He lures the greatest architects for teaching and for crits/He brings them in from everywhere: the dean who never quits! …”

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