The Info List - Natalie Zemon Davis

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Natalie Zemon Davis, CC (born 8 November 1928) is a Canadian and American historian of the early modern period. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of History and Anthropology
and Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
in Canada. Her work originally focused on France, but has since broadened to include other parts of Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. For example, Trickster Travels (2006) views Italy, Spain, Morocco
and other parts of North Africa and West Africa through the lens of Leo Africanus's pioneering geography. It has appeared in four translations, with three more on the way. Davis' books have all been translated into other languages: twenty-two for The Return of Martin Guerre. She is a hero to many historians and academics, as "one of the greatest living historians", constantly asking new questions and taking on new challenges, the second woman president of the American Historical Association (the first, Nellie Neilson, was in 1943) and someone who "has not lost the integrity and commitment to radical thought which marked her early career".[1] She has been awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize
Holberg International Memorial Prize
and National Humanities Medal
National Humanities Medal
and been named Companion of the Order of Canada.


1 Life 2 Research interests 3 Awards and recognition 4 Works 5 References 6 External links

Life[edit] Davis was born in Detroit
into a middle-class family, the daughter of 19th century Jewish immigrants to the United States.[citation needed] She attended Kingswood School Cranbrook and was subsequently educated at Smith College, Radcliffe College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan, from which she received her PhD in 1959. In 1948, she married Chandler Davis.[2] She and Davis had difficulties in the U.S. during the era of the Red Scare. He lost his professorship in Michigan, and in the 1960s, they moved to Canada (Toronto) with their three children.[2] Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
subsequently taught at Brown University, the University of Toronto, the University of California at Berkeley, and from 1978 to her retirement in 1996, at Princeton University, where she became the Henry Charles Lea
Henry Charles Lea
Professor of History and director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. In addition to courses in the history of early modern France, she has taught or co-taught courses in history and anthropology, early modern Jewish social history, and history and film. She has also been an important figure in the study of the history of women and gender, founding with Jill Ker Conway
Jill Ker Conway
a course in that subject in 1971 at the University of Toronto: one of the first in North America. Since her retirement, she has been living in Toronto, where she is Adjunct Professor of History and Anthropology
and Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Research interests[edit] Natalie Davis' main interests are in social and cultural history, especially of those previously ignored by historians. She makes use of numerous sources such as judicial records, plays, notarial records, tax rolls, early printed books and pamphlets, autobiographies and folk tales. She is a proponent of cross-disciplinary history, which consists of combining history with disciplines such as anthropology, ethnography and literary theory. In her Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975), she explored the lives of artisans and peasants: their relation to the Protestant Reformation, their carnivals, uprisings, and religious violence, and the impact of printing on their ways of thinking. In her book best known to the public, The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), she followed a celebrated case of a 16th-century impostor in a village in the Pyrénées
so as to see how peasants thought about personal identity. Often linked with Carlo Ginzburg's microhistory The Cheese and the Worms about the radical miller Menocchio, Davis's book grew out of her experience as historical consultant for Daniel Vigne's film Le retour de Martin Guerre. Her book first appeared in French in 1982 at the same time as the premiere of the film. Davis's interest in story-telling continued with her book, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon
Tales and their Tellers in 16th-century France (1987), a study of the stories people of all classes told to the king to get pardoned for homicide in the days before manslaughter was a possible plea. In her Women on the Margins (1995), she looked at the autobiographical accounts of three 17th-century women – the Jewish merchant Glikl Hamel, the Catholic nun Marie de l'Incarnation, who came to New France, and the Protestant entomologist-artist Maria Sibylla Merian—and discussed the role of religion in their lives. Davis's studies of the past have sometimes had present-day resonance.[citation needed] Her book on The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France (2000) is both a picture of gifts and bribes in the 16th century and a discussion of a viable mode of exchange different from the market. In Trickster Travels (2006), she describes how the early 16th-century North African Muslim "Leo Africanus" (Hasan al-Wazzan) managed to live as a Christian in Italy after he was kidnapped by Christian pirates and also sees his writings as an example of "the possibility of communication and curiosity in a world divided by violence." In 2017, she served as historical consultant for Wajdi Mouawad's new play Tous des Oiseaux that premiered in Paris at the Théâtre de La Colline. Set in present-day New York and Jerusalem, the play follows a German/Israeli family riven by conflict when the geneticist son wants to marry an Arab-American woman who is doing her doctoral dissertation on Hassan al-Wazzan/Leo Africanus, the subject of Davis' Trickster Travels[3] Her book (in-process), Braided Histories on 18th-century Suriname
studies networks of communication and association among families, both slave and free, on the plantations of Christian and Jewish settlers.[4] Though Davis’s historical writings are extensively researched, she sometimes resorts to speculation, using analogous evidence and inserting words like “perhaps” and phrases like “she may have thought.” Some critics of her work find this troubling and think that this practice threatens the empirical base of the historian’s profession.[citation needed] Davis's answer to this is suggested in her 1992 essay "Stories and the Hunger to Know," where she argues both for the role of interpretation by historians and their essential quest for evidence about the past: both must be present and acknowledged to keep people from claiming that they have an absolute handle on “truth.” She opened her Women on the Margins with an imaginary dialogue, in which her three subjects upbraid her for her approach and for putting them in the same book. In her Slaves on Screen (2000), Davis maintains that feature films can provide a valuable way of telling about the past, what she calls “thought experiments,” but only so long as they are connected with general historical evidence.[5] Awards and recognition[edit] In 2010, Davis was awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize, worth 4.5 million Norwegian kroner (~$700,000 US), for her narrative approach to the field of history. The awards citation described her as "one of the most creative historians writing today" who inspired younger generations of historians and promoted "cross-fertilization between disciplines". The citation said her compelling narrative "shows how particular events can be narrated and analyzed so as to reveal deeper historical tendencies and underlying patterns of thought and action".[6] On 29 June 2012, Davis was named Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest class within the order.[7] On 10 July 2013, Davis was awarded the 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
for "her insights into the study of history and her exacting eloquence in bringing the past into focus."[8] On 13 September 2013, Davis was awarded an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews. Works[edit]

Society and Culture in Early Modern France: Eight Essays, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1975. "Women's History" in Transition: the European Case" pages 83–103 from Volume 3, Issue 3, Feminist Studies, 1975. "Ghosts, Kin, and Progeny: Some Features of Family Life in Early Modern France" pages 87–114 from Daedalus, Volume 106, Issue #2, 1977. "Gender and Genre: Women as Historical Writers, 1400–1820" pages 123–144 from University of Ottawa Quarterly, Volume 50, Issue #1, 1980. " Anthropology
and History in the 1980s: the Possibilities of the Past"pages 267–275 from Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Volume 12, Issue #2, 1981. "The Sacred and the Body Social in Sixteenth-century Lyon", pages 40–70 from Past and Present, Volume 90, 1981. "Women in the Crafts in Sixteenth-century Lyon" pagers 47–80, Volume 8, Issue 1, from Feminist Studies, 1982. "Beyond the Market: Books as Gifts in Sixteenth-century France" pages 69–88 from Transactions of the Royal Historical Society Volume 33, 1983. The Return of Martin Guerre, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Harvard University
Press, 1983. Frauen und Gesellschaft am Beginn der Neuzeit, Berlin: Wagenbach, 1986. "`Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead': Film and the Challenge of Authenticity" pages 457–482 from The Yale Review, Volume 76, Issue #4, 1987. Fiction in the Archives: Pardon
Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth Century France, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1987. "Fame and Secrecy: Leon Modena's Life as an Early Modern Autobiography" pages 103–118 from History and Theory, Volume 27, Issue #4, 1988. "History's Two Bodies" pages 1–13 from the American Historical Review, Volume 93, Issue #1, 1988. "On the Lame" pages 572–603 from American Historical Review, Volume 93, Issue #3, 1988. " Rabelais
among the Censors (1940s, 1540s)" pages 1–32 from Representations, Volume 32, Issue No. 1, 1990. "The Shapes of Social History" pages 28–32 from Storia della Storiographia Volume 17, Issue No. 1, 1990. "Gender in the academy : women and learning from Plato to Princeton : an exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of undergraduate coeducation at Princeton University" / organized by Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
... [et al.], Princeton : Princeton University Library, 1990 "Women and the World of Annales" pages 121–137 from Volume 33, History Workshop Journal, 1992. Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, co-edited with Arlette Farge, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1993. Volume III of A History of Women in the West. [Originally published in Italian in 1991.] Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-century Lives], Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Harvard University
Press, 1995. A Life of Learning: Charles Homer Haskins
Charles Homer Haskins
Lecture for 1997, New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1997. [1] "Religion and Capitalism Once Again? Jewish Merchant Culture in the Seventeenth Century" from Representations No. 59 (Summer, 1997). Remaking Imposters: From Martin Guerre
Martin Guerre
to Sommersby, Egham, Surrey, UK: Royal Holloway Publications Unit, 1997. "Beyond Evolution: Comparative History and its Goals" pages 149–158 from Swiat Historii edited by W. Wrzoska, Poznan: Instytut Historii, 1998. The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France, University of Wisconsin Press 2000 Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002 Trickster Travels New York: Hill & Wang, 2006.


Adams, R.M. Review of Fiction in the Archives page 35 from New York Review of Books, Volume 34, Issue No. 4, March 16, 1989. Adelson, R. Interview with Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
pages 405–422 from Historian Volume 53, Issue No. 3, 1991. Benson, E. "The Look of the Past: Le Retour de Martin Guerre" pages 125–135 from Radical History Review, Volume 28, 1984. Bossy, J. "As it Happened: Review of Fiction in the Archives", pages 359 from Times Literacy Supplement, Issue 4488, April 7, 1989. Chartier, Roger Cultural History Between Practices and Representations, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988. Coffin, J. & Harding. R. "Interview with Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
" pages 99–122 from Visions of History edited by H. Abelove, B. Blackmar, P.Dimock & J. Schneer, Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1984. Diefendorf, Barbara and Hesse, Carla (editors) Culture and Identity in Early Modern France (1500–1800): Essays in Honor of Natalie Zemon Davis, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
University of Michigan
Press, 1993. Finlay, R. "The Refashioning of Martin Guerre" pages 553–571 from American Historical Review Volume 93, Issue #3, 1988. Guneratne, A. "Cinehistory and the Puzzling Case of Martin Guerre" pages 2–19 from Film and History, Volume 21, Issue # 1, 1991. Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel "Double Trouble: Review of The Return of Martin Guerre" pages 12–13 from The New York Review of Books, Volume 30, Issue #20, December 22, 1983. O'Connor, J.E (editor) Images as Artifact: the Historical Analysis of Film and Television, Malabar, Florida: R.E. Krieger, 1990. Orest, R. Review of Women on the Margins pages 808–810 from American Historical Review, Volume 102, Issue #3, 1997. Quinn, A. Review of Women on the Margins page 18 from New York Times Review of Books, December 10, 1995. Roelker, N.L. Review of Fiction in the Archives pages 1392–1393 from American Historical Review Volume 94, Issue #5, 1989. Roper, L. Review of Women on the Margins pages 4–5 from Times Literacy Supplement 4868, July 19, 1996. Snowman, Daniel "Natalie Zemon Davis" pages 18–20 from History Today Volume 52 Issue 10 October 2002.

^ Johan Kwantes, "'Everything I do is directed towards making the world a better place': Interview with Lisa Jardine," NIAS Newsletter, Fall 2008, p. 8. ^ a b Wells, Colin (2008). A Brief History of History. The Lyons Press. pp. 294–5, 298–304. ISBN 9781599211220.  ^ Christian Rioux, "Wajid Mouawad triomphe a Paris,"Le Devoir, December 5, 2017. ^ http://www.forward.com/articles/a-star-historian-opens-a-new-chapter-jewish-slave ^ Contemporary Literary Criticism vol. 204, " Special
issue on Natalie Zemon Davis, 1928–", pp. 1–65 (2005). ^ CBC Arts, "U of T Scholar Wins $768,000 Holberg Prize." ^ CBC Canada, "Ralph Klein, Pat Quinn named to Order of Canada" ^ President Obama to Award 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal White House. Retrieved 30 June 2013

External links[edit]

Interview with Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
– interviewed in May 2007, from Medievalists.net Natalie Zemon Davis: A Life of Learning ( Charles Homer Haskins
Charles Homer Haskins
Lecture for 1997) A Star Historian Opens a New Chapter: Jewish Slaveowners, The Jewish Forward, August 17, 2006.

v t e

Presidents of the American Historical Association


Andrew Dickson White
Andrew Dickson White
(1884-85) George Bancroft
George Bancroft
(1886) Justin Winsor
Justin Winsor
(1887) William Frederick Poole
William Frederick Poole
(1888) Charles Kendall Adams
Charles Kendall Adams
(1889) John Jay (1890) William Wirt Henry (1891) James Burrill Angell
James Burrill Angell
(1892-93) Henry Adams
Henry Adams
(1893-94) George Frisbie Hoar
George Frisbie Hoar
(1895) Richard Salter Storrs
Richard Salter Storrs
(1896) James Schouler (1897) George Park Fisher (1898) James Ford Rhodes
James Ford Rhodes
(1899) Edward Eggleston
Edward Eggleston


Charles Francis Adams Jr.
Charles Francis Adams Jr.
(1901) Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan
(1902) Henry Charles Lea
Henry Charles Lea
(1903) Goldwin Smith
Goldwin Smith
(1904) John Bach McMaster
John Bach McMaster
(1905) Simeon Eben Baldwin
Simeon Eben Baldwin
(1906) J. Franklin Jameson (1907) George Burton Adams (1908) Albert Bushnell Hart
Albert Bushnell Hart
(1909) Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
(1910) William Milligan Sloane
William Milligan Sloane
(1911) Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
(1912) William Archibald Dunning (1913) Andrew C. McLaughlin
Andrew C. McLaughlin
(1914) H. Morse Stephens
H. Morse Stephens
(1915) George Lincoln Burr
George Lincoln Burr
(1916) Worthington C. Ford (1917) William Roscoe Thayer
William Roscoe Thayer
(1918-19) Edward Channing (1920) Jean Jules Jusserand
Jean Jules Jusserand
(1921) Charles Homer Haskins
Charles Homer Haskins
(1922) Edward Potts Cheyney
Edward Potts Cheyney
(1923) Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
(1924) Charles McLean Andrews
Charles McLean Andrews


Dana Carleton Munro
Dana Carleton Munro
(1926) Henry Osborn Taylor (1927) James Henry Breasted
James Henry Breasted
(1928) James Harvey Robinson
James Harvey Robinson
(1929) Evarts Boutell Greene (1930) Carl L. Becker (1931) Herbert Eugene Bolton
Herbert Eugene Bolton
(1932) Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard
(1933) William Dodd (1934) Michael Rostovtzeff
Michael Rostovtzeff
(1935) Charles Howard McIlwain (1936) Guy Stanton Ford (1937) Laurence M. Larson (1938) William Scott Ferguson (1939) Max Farrand
Max Farrand
(1940) James Westfall Thompson (1941) Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. (1942) Nellie Neilson (1943) William Linn Westermann
William Linn Westermann
(1944) Carlton J. H. Hayes (1945) Sidney Bradshaw Fay (1946) Thomas J. Wertenbaker
Thomas J. Wertenbaker
(1947) Kenneth Scott Latourette
Kenneth Scott Latourette
(1948) Conyers Read (1949) Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison


Robert Livingston Schuyler (1951) James G. Randall (1952) Louis R. Gottschalk (1953) Merle Curti (1954) Lynn Thorndike
Lynn Thorndike
(1955) Dexter Perkins (1956) William L. Langer (1957) Walter Prescott Webb
Walter Prescott Webb
(1958) Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
(1959) Bernadotte Everly Schmitt (1960) Samuel Flagg Bemis (1961) Carl Bridenbaugh (1962) Crane Brinton (1963) Julian P. Boyd (1964) Frederic C. Lane (1965) Roy Franklin Nichols (1966) Hajo Holborn (1967) John K. Fairbank (1968) C. Vann Woodward
C. Vann Woodward
(1969) Robert Roswell Palmer (1970) David M. Potter (1971) Joseph Strayer (1971) Thomas C. Cochran (1972) Lynn Townsend White Jr. (1973) Lewis Hanke (1974) Gordon Wright (1975)


Richard B. Morris (1976) Charles Gibson (1977) William J. Bouwsma (1978) John Hope Franklin (1979) David H. Pinkney (1980) Bernard Bailyn (1981) Gordon A. Craig
Gordon A. Craig
(1982) Philip D. Curtin (1983) Arthur S. Link (1984) William H. McNeill (1985) Carl Neumann Degler (1986) Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
(1987) Akira Iriye (1988) Louis R. Harlan (1989) David Herlihy (1990) William Leuchtenburg (1991) Frederic Wakeman (1992) Louise A. Tilly (1993) Thomas C. Holt (1994) John Henry Coatsworth (1995) Caroline Bynum (1996) Joyce Appleby (1997) Joseph C. Miller (1998) Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton
(1999) Eric Foner
Eric Foner


William Roger Louis (2001) Lynn Hunt (2002) James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
(2003) Jonathan Spence (2004) James J. Sheehan
James J. Sheehan
(2005) Linda K. Kerber (2006) Barbara Weinstein (2007) Gabrielle M. Spiegel (2008) Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
(2009) Barbara D. Metcalf (2010) Anthony Grafton
Anthony Grafton
(2011) William Cronon
William Cronon
(2012) Kenneth Pomeranz
Kenneth Pomeranz
(2013) Jan E. Goldstein (2014) Vicki L. Ruiz (2015) Patrick Manning (2016) Tyler E. Stovall (2017) Mary Beth Norton (2018)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 54146444 LCCN: n82156876 ISNI: 0000 0001 2025 9894 GND: 119167093 SELIBR: 183503 SUDOC: 026814102 BNF: cb118988329 (data) BIBSYS: 90401643 NLA: 36540607 NDL: 00437370 NKC: jn19990001652 BNE: XX1056