MIT professor’s book digs into the eclectic, textually linked reading choices of people in medieval London.
Peter S. Donaldson, professor of literature and head of the literature faculty in the Department of Humanities, been named the first holder of the Ann Fetter Friedlaender Professorship of Humanities for a five-year term.
"It is a particular tribute to Professor Donaldson's outstanding record of scholarship and teaching to be chosen as the first recipient of this award," Professor Philip S. Khoury, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, said in announcing the award. "I know that Nan Friedlaender would have been especially pleased with his appointment."
The Ann Fetter Friedlaender Professorship was established in 1992 by the family of Professor Friedlaender and supported by Conrail, on whose board of directors she served. The professorship is a commemoration of Professor Friedlaender's distinguished career at MIT as dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science, head of the Department of Economics and Class of 1941 Professor of Civil Engineering and Economics. Professor Friedlaender died on October 19, 1992, at the age of 54. The chair is for senior faculty in the School and will be rotated every five years among the most deserving faculty in the School.
Professor Donaldson is a Renaissance scholar whose studies focus primarily on Shakespeare and film, as well as on Machiavelli. He is the author of two books, Shakespearean Films/Shakespearean Directors (1990), and Machiavelli and Mystery of State (1988), as well as translator and editor of Stephen Gardiner's A Machiavellian Treatise (1975). In 1979 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
At present Professor Donaldson is gaining much international recognition for his innovative approach to linking Shakespeare studies with new multimedia technologies. The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded two major grants to Co-Directors Professor Donaldson, Senior Research Scientist Janet Murray in foreign languages and literatures, and Professor Larry Friedlaender at Stanford University, and to Head Programmer Stuart Malone for the production of two Shakespeare interactive multimedia projects. One of the two projects is a demonstration archive linking the electronic text of Hamlet to videodisc versions of film adaptations of the play. The other project is a two-screen presentation system linking the text of Romeo and Juliet to film versions of that play.
Professor Donaldson has been head of the literature faculty since 1990 and professor of literature at MIT since 1988. He received his PhD in English from Columbia University in 1974 and an MA in English from Cambridge University in 1970, as well as a BA from Cambridge University in 1966 and a BA in English from Columbia University in 1964.
A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 6).