Noted Caribbeanist and Haiti scholar Colin Dayan—author (among many other ground-breaking works) of Haiti, History and the Gods and most recently The Law is a White Dog—is among the new members chosen to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in 2012.
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 United States Secretary of State and former Senator Hilary Clinton, Oscar-winning actor and Director Clint Eastwood, fellow actor and director Mel Brooks, philanthropist Melinda Gates, pianist and composer André Previn, and mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade.
Colin Dayan received her B.A. summa cum laude, phi beta kappa from Smith College and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Before moving to Vanderbilt in 2004 as the Robert Penn Warren Professor of the Humanities, she taught at Yale University, the City University of New York Graduate Center, University of Arizona, Princeton Univesity, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Her books include A Rainbow for the Christian West: Introducing René Depestre’s Poetry (1977)
and Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe’s Fiction (1987). Her book, Haiti, History, and the Gods (1995, 1998), brings history, literature, and religion into dialogue through an examination of Haitian historiography and Vodou. The Story of Cruel and Unusual (MIT Press, 2007) gives a legal history to the worst excesses of the current war on terror. Her articles have appeared in dozens of scholarly books and journals such as Research in African Literatures, World Literature Today, Raritan, Southwest Review, Yale French Studies, and The Yale Review. Her book The Law is a White Dog — how the rituals of law make and unmake persons — was published by Princeton University Press in Spring 2011 and chosen by Choice as one of top 25 books for 2011.
The newly elected members are to be formally inducted into the AAAS in a ceremony in October.