Art Historian Caroline Bruzelius Elected to the American Philosophical Society

Caroline A. Bruzelius, Anne Murnick Cogan Professor Emerita of Art and Art History, has been elected a Member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society. She is among 34 new members elected this year—others in her cohort include Marin Alsop (Music Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Elizabeth Alexander (President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and Lonnie Bunch III (Secretary, Smithsonian Institution).

Bruzelius’s scholarly focus is Gothic architecture, urbanism and medieval sculpture in France and Italy. As a world-renowned expert on medieval architecture, she appeared on numerous high-profile media outlets, including NPR, NBC, and Foreign Policy, to discuss the disastrous fire in Notre Dame cathedral last April (read more in Duke Today). She has also published numerous articles on the architecture of religious women and on digital humanities. She was the founding director of Duke’s Wired! Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture, which just celebrated its tenth anniversary.

The American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States. It was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” Early Members included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. In the nineteenth century, John James Audubon, Robert Fulton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, and Louis Pasteur were among those elected. The first woman in its ranks, elected in 1789, was the Russian Princess Dashkova, president of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and George Marshall hint at the broad scientific, humanistic, and public accomplishments of its 20th-century Members. Since 1900, more than 260 Members have received the Nobel Prize.

The Society’s current activities reflect the founder’s spirit of inquiry, as it continues to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and convey the conviction of its members that intellectual inquiry and critical thought are inherently in the public interest.