Literature honoree inspired by Nobel Prize winner

Deanne WilliamsLeft: Deanne Williams

As diffident as some teenagers seem to be, they can still be sparked by speakers at high schools. York Professor Deanne Williams would second that. Named the 2003 recipient of the John Charles Polanyi Prize for literature, she says she was inspired by listening to a talk by John Polanyi himself when she attended University of Toronto Schools.

"Professor Polanyi gave an inspiring talk at my high school, years ago, and so that gives the prize a special meaning for me. I’m very honoured to receive it," said Williams when Mary Anne Chambers, minister of training, colleges and universities, announced the honour last week in Toronto.

A specialist in medieval and early modern literature, especially Shakespeare, Williams teaches English in York’s Faculty of Arts. She is currently researching the construction of English identity after the Norman Conquest, using a combination of literary textual study, cultural history and literary theory.

Williams is the author of "The French Fetish from Chaucer to Shakespeare" and co-editor of a collection of essays entitled "Postcolonial Approaches to the European Middle Ages: Translating Cultures", both forthcoming. Current projects include studies of Renaissance Medievalism and Elizabethan culture. Williams has degrees from the University of Toronto, Oxford University and Stanford University, where she received her PhD in 2000.

Williams will be honoured along with four other Polanyi prize winners at a ceremony at Massey College on Nov. 28, 1:30-3:30pm in the presence of the James Bartleman, lieutenant governor of Ontario.

Right: John Polanyi

Established in 1986, the John Charles Polanyi Prizes recognize the achievement of John Polanyi, who received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The prizes, worth $15,000 each, are awarded annually in the fields of chemistry, literature, physics, economics, and physiology or medicine, and to scholars and researchers planning to continue postdoctoral studies at an Ontario university.