Antigua-born writer Jamaica Kincaid is among the 231 new members chosen to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in 2009. The Academy, chartered in 1780, aims “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” It is an international learned society with a dual function: to elect to membership men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, and to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society. The Academy, which has 4,000 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members, publishes the quarterly journal, Dædalus. Among the honorees for this year are writer Thomas Pynchon, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, pathologist Peter Nowell, actor James Earl Jones, and Irish poet Michael Longley.
Kincaid, a visiting lecturer on African and American Studies at Harvard, said she was “very touched and honoured” to receive the recognition.
The newly elected members are to be formally inducted into the AAAS in a ceremony in October.