- Barbara Herrnstein Smith
Barbara Herrnstein Smith is an American literary critic and theorist, best-known for her work "Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory". She is currently the
Braxton CravenProfessor of Comparative Literature and English and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory at Duke University, and also Distinguished Professor of English at Brown University.
Smith briefly studied at
City College of New York, studying biology, experimental psychology, and philosophy. She then earned her B.A. ("summa cum laude") in 1954 and her Ph.D. in 1965, both from Brandeis University.
From 1961 to 1973, Smith taught at
Bennington College. She accepted a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvaniain 1973. In 1987 she joined the Duke Universityfaculty, and also joined Brown Universityin 2003.
Smith has also occupied numerous short-term and honorary posts. She was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at
Stanfordand at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
cholarship and work
Smith is a well-known writer, most particularly for her 1988 work on
critical theory, "Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory". In this work, she attempts to situate the various liberal, conservative, and other views of "values" within her "metametatheory" of contingencies, an economics-influenced theoretical approach. She uses her theory to address literary, aesthetic, and other types of values, attempting to discern whether any objective standards may be applied.
Other works include "Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End", "Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy", and an edition of
Shakespeare's sonnets; she has published numerous books and articles on language, literature, and critical theory.
In recent years she has been doing considerable work on the science and the humanities, including "Scandalous Knowledge" and her 2006
Terry lecturesat Yale, "Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion."
1968) ISBN 0-226-76343-9
*"Shakespeare's Sonnets" (ed.) (1969)
*"On the Margins of Discourse: The Relation of Literature to Language" (
1978) ISBN 0-226-76452-4
*"Contingencies of Value: Alternative Perspectives for Critical Theory" (1988) ISBN 0-674-16785-6
*"The Politics of Liberal Education" (ed., with
Darryl J. Gless) ( 1992) ISBN 0-8223-1199-2
*"Mathematics, Science, and Postclassical Theory" (ed., with
Arkady Plotnitsky) ( 1997) ISBN 0-8223-1863-6
*"Belief and Resistance: Dynamics of Contemporary Intellectual Controversy" (1997) ISBN 0-674-06492-5
*"Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth and the Human" (
2006) ISBN 0-8223-3848-3
Awards and recognitions
Christian Gauss Award(1968) for "Poetic Closure"
* Explicator Award (1968) for "Poetic Closure"
* Guggenheim Fellowship, 1977-78
Modern Language Associationin 1988.
* Member (elected) (1999),
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
* Honorary Fellow (2001),
American Association for the Advancement of Science("for distinguished contributions to ... a common scientific and humanistic understanding of knowledge and its advancement")
* [http://fds.duke.edu/db/aas/English/faculty/bhsmith Duke University Faculty Profile]
* [http://research.brown.edu/research/profile.php?id=10029 Brown University Faculty Profile]
* [http://www.yale.edu/terrylecture/smith.html Smith's 2006 Terry Lectures at Yale]
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