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madwoman
Hans Strauss, Madwoman: Margreth, Hanns Eyseleis' daughter. Used on the cover of H.C. Erik Midelfort's "A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany

U.Va. Historian Erik Midelfort Honored with National Phi Beta Kappa Book Award for ‘A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany'

Nov. 12, 1999 -- H.C. Erik Midelfort, the C. Julian Bishko Professor of History at the University of Virginia, has been named winner of the 1999 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, one of three prestigious national Phi Beta Kappa Book Awards for outstanding nonfiction, for his recent "A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany.

The three Phi Beta Kappa book awards, which carry prizes of $2,500 from the nation's oldest scholarly honorary society, have been given annually since the 1950's for outstanding books in the humanities and social and natural sciences. Other 1999 award winners were James Olney of Louisiana State University for "Memory and Narrative: The Weave of Life Writing," for outstanding literary scholarship; and "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene of Columbia University for the literature of science.

Midelfort's highly praised study of how Renaissance Germans understood madness, published by Stanford University Press, won in the category of outstanding studies of the intellectual and cultural condition of mankind. The honor society's announcement, calling the book a "wonderfully rich and gripping work," noted that "Midelfort's achievement entails not only outstanding historical scholarship, but a command of theology, medicine, and law and the ability to work and think in five different languages."

Midelfort, who has taught at U.Va. since 1970 and is principal of Brown College, is also the author of "Mad Princes of Renaissance Germany" and other studies of madness and the occult in the Renaissance. "A History of Madness in Sixteenth-Century Germany," based on years of scholarship, has been praised for shedding light not only on the entire history of its era but on the nature of insanity and culture in general.

The Phi Beta Kappa book award winners, selected by panels of scholars in various fields from more than 100 entries submitted by publishers throughout the country, will be honored at a dinner in Washington, D.C., Dec. 10.

For additional information about the awards contact Linda Surles at Phi Beta Kappa at (202) 265-3808. Erik Midelfort may be reached at (804) 924-7949.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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