Historian Davis wins Holberg Prize

March 16, 2010 12:10 p.m.

Historian Natalie Zemon Davis, a Princeton professor emeritus, has been awarded the Holberg Prize, a major international honor established by the Norwegian parliament to recognize outstanding scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law or theology.

Currently an adjunct professor of history and medieval studies at the University of Toronto, Davis will receive an award of $785,000 with the prize, which was established in 2003.

Davis is Princeton's Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus and served on the University faculty from 1978 to 1996. She is a pioneering scholar of the social and cultural history of 16th-century France and early modern Europe, with a focus on uncovering the lives and values of peasants, artisans and women. Her work is widely read outside of academic circles, and she has a long history of political activism in civil rights, women's rights and issues of free speech.

Davis' books include "Society and Culture in Early Modern France" (1975), "The Return of Martin Guerre" (1983), "Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in 16th-Century France" (1987), "Women on the Margins: Three 16th-Century Lives" (1995), "The Gift in 16th-Century France" (2000), "Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision" (2000) and "Trickster Travels: A 16th-Century Muslim Between Worlds" (2006). "A Passion for History," a book of conversations about her life as a historian, will be published in May.

Davis, who directed the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton from 1990 to 1994, was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2003. She also has taught at Brown University and the University of California-Berkeley, and served as president of the American Historical Association.

She will receive the Holberg Prize at a ceremony on June 9 in Bergen, Norway.