Cecelia Tichi, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English, has been named the 2009 winner of the Hubbell Medal, a lifetime achievement award presented by the American Literature Section to recognize significant advancements in the study of American literature.
“The ALS executive committee is very excited about the choice of Dr. Tichi, who so clearly and richly deserves this esteem,” says Joycelyn Moody, executive coordinator of the ALS, a division of the Modern Language Association.
Tichi is an in-demand professor at Vanderbilt, where she teaches classes in 19th and 20th century American literature, focusing on aspects of culture from consumerism and social critique to country music. Her books include Exposés and Excess: Muckraking in America 1900–2000; Embodiment of a Nation: Human Form in American Places; Reading Country Music: Steel Guitars, Opry Stars and Honky-Tonk Bars; High Lonesome: The American Culture of Country Music; and Electronic Hearth: Creating an American Television Culture. Her new book, Civic Passions: Seven Who Launched Progressive America (and What They Teach Us), is currently being prepared for fall publication by The University of North Carolina Press.
Previous winners include Vanderbilt alumnus Robert Penn Warren, BA’25, and Houston Baker Jr., University Distinguished Professor of English at Vanderbilt.
“Winning the Hubbell Medal for lifetime achievement in American literature is thrilling,” Tichi says. “The prior winners are a roll call of my own teachers. Back in high school I was gripped by Robert Penn Warren’s novel The Cave, and later on by All the King’s Men and the evocative Audubon.
“I couldn’t have imagined one day teaching at the university that was Warren’s home base or guessed that a more recent Hubbell winner who taught me so much about African American literature and culture—Houston Baker—would become a Vanderbilt colleague.”
Other prior winners of the Hubbell Medal include Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alfred Kazin and Lewis Mumford.