Prof. Emeritus Michael J. Murrin to receive Norman Maclean Faculty Award

Michael J. Murrin, the Raymond W. & Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Professor Emeritus of Religion and Literature in the Divinity School, has earned the Norman Maclean Faculty Award. This award, bestowed by the Alumni Association, honors emeritus or senior faculty for extraordinary contributions to teaching and to the student experience of life within the University community.

In conjunction with the University’s 527th Convocation, Murrin will accept his award on Friday, June 10 at the Honorands Dinner.

For more than 50 years, Murrin has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the Departments of English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, the Divinity School and the College. Murrin’s research interests lie in two areas: the history of criticism, with a specialty in the history of allegorical interpretation; and the study of the genres of romance and epic. His teaching focuses on period courses in the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early modern period.

His publications include The Veil of Allegory; The Allegorical Epic; and History and Warfare in Renaissance Epic. His work Trade and Romance (University of Chicago Press, 2013) is a study of both the growth of Europe’s middle-class culture and its interests in aristocratic romance, and the simultaneous development of trade across Asia by merchants and initially made possible by the Mongol world system. It won the René Wellek Prize, the highest prize in the American Comparative Literature Association.

“Many scholars spend their lives in a comparatively narrow area, like Shakespeare. That is fine in its own right, but it is not what I do,” said Murrin. “Each of my books concerns different areas and issues, from the Allegorical Epic to History and Warfare, which had as much regular history (normally not a concern for literary scholars), to Trade and Romance, which ranged from the Mongols to the Portuguese in the east, and finally the English.”

Murrin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Currently he is at work on a short book about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.