Distinguished award for distinguished York research professor


York Distinguished Research Professor Michael Herren, Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, has just been accorded a new honour. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in conjunction with the Royal Society of Canada has selected Herren to receive the Konrad Adenauer Research Award for 2003.

Right: Michael Herren

“I am really delighted to receive the Konrad Adenauer prize, since it is a recognition of achievement in research over a lifetime,” said Herren, Atkinson professor of classics. “The kind of work I do is not flashy. It involves laborious searches through manuscripts, editing and translating Latin, and sometimes Greek, texts, and generally trying to make little known works accessible to a wider scholarly and general public.

“But my work has always been fun, because it has often entailed solving puzzles as well as making new discoveries. This award will give me the opportunity to return to Europe to use original manuscripts over an extended period of time. I am particularly thrilled to be returning to Munich, which has fabulous research facilities for scholars in my field – medieval Latin – and where I have good friends and colleagues,” said Herren.

Herren said the Konrad Adenauer prize enables him to be in Munich, Germany, from September 2004 to June 2005, completing research for the book on which he has been working since 1995.

The book about medieval transmission of Graeco-Roman mythology will tell readers what ancient myths were known, when, by whom and through what channels in that period. “I also hope to reveal a range of attitudes shown by Christian scholars and readers to Graeco-Roman myths.” The book is intended to be of interest to classicists and medievalists alike.

Herren is focusing his work on the dissemination and study of ancient myths by scholars and readers from 600 to 1100 CE. Until now, classicists have made few attempts at discussing mythographical trends in antiquity. However, he said, one researcher is currently completing a book that looks at Greek mythography up to the 5th century. “This leaves the field open for me to write a book on early medieval mythography which would establish the link between the end of the classical world and the later Middle Ages.”

The Middle Ages have been lavished with attention over the years, said Herren. “But it is astonishing that so little interest has been devoted to the question of how the 12th and later centuries had acquired such a great story of mythological knowledge and why they were so interested in the subject.”

While in Munich, Herren will examine manuscripts drawn largely from the German region, including Switzerland and Austria, from the 9th to the early 12th centuries.

“I am pleased for the recognition that the Konrad Adenauer Research Award brings to York, to our Classics program and to the School of Arts & Letters in Atkinson,” said Herren. “As I approach retirement, I feel that this is a perfect way to wrap up my career as a full-time faculty member.”

More about Michael Herren

Michael Herren, a professor in the Atkinson School of Arts & Letters, has received numerous other distinctions, such as Research Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 1998-1999; Killam Research Fellow, Canada Council, 1995-1997; Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, University of Munich, 1988-1989 and 1981-1982; Senior Research Fellow (Classics), King’s College London, 1987-198; and Atkinson College Research Fellow, York University, 1985-1986.

Herren is the editor of The Journal of Medieval Latin, vols. 1-11 (1991-2002) and is currently editing vol. 13. With his wife, Atkinson art history Professor Shirley Ann Brown, he wrote Christ in Celtic Christianity: Britain and Ireland from the Fifth to the Tenth Century (Boydell Press, 2002).

At present Herren has several books in progress, including “Hisperica Famina III. The Fragments for Studies and Texts” (Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies Press, Toronto); and the edition and translation of “The Cosmography of Aethicus Ister” (for Oxford Medieval Tests).

Konrad Adenauer Research Award

The establishment of the Konrad Adenauer Research Award was announced in 1988 when Helmut Kohl, who was then chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, visited the University of Toronto. The award, administered through the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is given annually to a highly qualified Canadian scholar whose research work in the humanities or in the social sciences has earned international recognition and who is among the group of leading scholars in his or her respective area of specialization.

The aim of the award is to promote academic relations between Canada and Germany, and it is presented to honour lifetime academic achievement. The recipient is invited to carry out a research project of his/her choice in Germany, in cooperation with German colleagues specializing in the same areas, for a period of up to one year.