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March 21st, 2009
Texas State prof wins $50K humanities prize

Texas State historian James McWilliams


James E. McWilliams, associate professor of history at Texas State, was awarded the 2009 Heitt Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (DIHC). The prize carries a cash award of $50,000.

“James McWilliams is an excellent representative of the Heitt Prize’s purpose,” said J.Larry Allums, executive director of DIHC, “which is to recognize and reward distinctive work in the humanities that exhibits both the highest levels of scholarship and relevance to the lived world.”

The Heitt Prize, named for philanthropist Kim Heitt Jordan, is awarded to an emerging leader in the humanities, and ranks among the field’s most prestigious awards. It will be presented to McWilliams on April 28, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Award-winning composer and lyricist Steven Sondheim will deliver the keynote address.

McWilliams work focuses on American environmental, agricultural and economic history. His books include “A Revolution In Eating: How The Quest For Food Shaped America,” “Building The Bay Colony: Economy And Society In Early Massachusetts,” and “American Pests: The Losing War On Insects From Colonial Times To DDT.” His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.McWilliams also is a contributing writer at The Texas Observer and is working on a book called, “Just Food: How Locavores Endanger The Future Of Food And How We Should Eat Ethically.” The book is due out this summer.McWilliams won the 2001 Whitehall Prize in Colonial History, and was honored with an AltWeekly Award for Arts Criticism in 2004.

McWilliams received a bachelor of arts in philosophy from Georgetown University in 1991. He earned his master’s of education from Harvard University, and another master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Texas in 1994 and 1998, respectively. His doctorate in history was awarded by Johns Hopkins University in 2001.

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