English Professor Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina Receives Chancellor's Medal
Paul Murray Kendall Chair in Biography and Professor of English in the College of Humanities & Fine Arts Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina delivered the first Distinguished Faculty Lecture of 2023 entitled "Forgotten Lives: What They Mean, and Why They’re Important." There, Gerzina was also presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed upon faculty by the campus.
An internationally acclaimed scholar widely known for her involvement in British literary and cultural studies, Gerzina's award-winning work often explores forgotten lives, reaching beyond the field of literary studies and has made significant contributions to scholarship in history, art history, and African American studies.
Gerzina has dedicated her career to illuminating the lives of others as the author or editor of nine influential books, with two more in progress. Her work, which is both exacting and visionary, brings to light unknown facets of the lives of well-known figures as well as the lives of those overlooked by history.
“I’m fascinated by people’s lives and how they lived them,” she says in a 2021 interview that highlighted her as a UMass Amherst Spotlight Scholar.
Her prowess is widely acknowledged: Gerzina has received a Fulbright Scholar award and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017 and to the American Antiquarian Society in 2019, and is in demand as a speaker, panelist, and podcaster in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
Most recently, an updated edition of her book Black London was published in the U.K. under the new title "Black England: A Forgotten Georgian History," with a foreword by Zadie Smith.
Established in 1974, the annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture is dedicated to acknowledging the work of our most esteemed and accomplished faculty members. The lecture series not only honors individual faculty members and their achievements, but also celebrates the values of academic excellence that we share as a community. Each honoree is then also presented with the Chancellor’s Medal.