James McWilliams awarded Hiett Prize in the Humanities

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
March 17, 2009

James E. McWilliams, associate professor of history at Texas State University-San Marcos, is the 2009 recipient of the $50,000 Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

The award, which recognizes an emerging leader in the humanities, will be presented at the Dallas Institute’s 2009 Hiett Prize Gala on Tuesday, April 28, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Stephen Sondheim, award-winning composer and lyricist, will deliver the keynote address.

“James McWilliams is an excellent representative of the Hiett Prize’s purpose, 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,” said J. Larry Allums, executive director of the Dallas Institute.

McWilliams focuses on American history, specializing in 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.

In addition to writing academic books, McWilliams publishes frequently in the popular press, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today, and is a contributing writer at The Texas Observer. He is currently at work on a book tentatively titled, Just Food: How Locavores Endanger the Future of Food and How We Truly Eat Ethically, due out this summer. This project explores the viability of achieving a sustainable global diet for a world population expected to reach 8.9 billion by 2050.

In 2001, McWilliams won the Whitehall Prize in Colonial History and in 2004 was honored with an AltWeekly Award for arts criticism from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN). He holds a bachelor of arts in philosophy from Georgetown University (1991), a master of education from Harvard University (1994), a master of arts in American studies from the University of Texas (1996) and a doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins University (2001). He lives in Austin with his wife, Leila Kempner, and two children.

The Hiett Prize is among the nation’s most prestigious honors in the humanities. The $50,000 annual award was created by the Dallas Institute in 2004 in collaboration with philanthropist Kim Hiett Jordan to recognize a person in the early stages of a career “whose work promises to advance the way we think and live.”

For additional information, contact Jessica Young at jyoung@fortepr.com or (214) 890-7912.