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November 5, 2004

Harvard Medievalist to Deliver Dean Lecture

Michael McCormick (right), Francis Goelet Professor of History at Harvard University.

Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of History at Harvard University, will give this year’s Ruth J. Dean lecture Wednesday, November 10. The lecture, titled “Molecular Middle Ages: Medieval History and Archaeology in the Twenty-First Century,” will focus on new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the past, involving archaeology, history, and the natural sciences.

“Medievalists are just beginning to be aware of the implications of the revolutions now occurring in the life sciences for the knowledge of the past. Ancient DNA has proven to be remarkably tough, and, even though it is usually no longer completely intact, enough can survive to open up new windows to the past,” McCor-mick said in a recent interview with the Harvard University Gazette.

McCormick has received numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a $1.5 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award, which is funding his present research.

Margaret Switten, Class of 1926 Professor of Medieval and Eighteenth-Century French Language and Literature, said, “The emphasis placed in this lecture on unusual links between disciplines not only reveals what medievalists are up to but also meshes well with the current interest in interdisciplinary paths to learning here at Mount Holyoke.”

The Ruth J. Dean lecture series was established by the French department in 1967 upon the retirement of Professor Ruth J. Dean, who taught at Mount Holyoke for 33 years. The lecture, free of charge and open to the public, will take place at 8 pm in the Morrison Room in the Willits -Hallowell Center. A reception for Professor McCormick will follow.


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