April 2020

Professor wins 'Nobel prize'

Many alumni will recall Griselda Pollock, Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art, who has won this year’s Holberg Prize.

The annual award is given for outstanding research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology.

Described as the "Nobel Prize" for academic disciplines not covered by the established Swedish awards, this is the first time the Holberg Prize has been awarded to an art historian. Few recipients are more deserving than Professor Pollock, a world-leading figure in art and cultural studies and a member of the Leeds School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies.

Congratulate Griselda here

“I am as profoundly stunned as I am deeply honoured by the award of the Holberg Prize for 2020,” Professor Pollock said. “It is the most prestigious international prize for scholars working in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It thus publicly endorses the value of, and urgent necessity for, our research and teaching.”

The award comes in recognition of Professor Pollock’s profound influence on art history, as well as on related fields including feminist cinema studies, trauma studies, and Holocaust studies over five decades of work. Having helped to create feminist art history as an academic field in the 1970s, Professor Pollock has remained a renowned authority in the field ever since. To date, she has published 22 monographs and hundreds of scholarly articles in journals and books offering probing analyses of key moments in the formation of modern and contemporary culture to reveal the sexual and racial politics at the heart of modernist art and art history.

“Griselda Pollock is a beacon for generations of art and cultural historians.”

Sir Alan Langlands
Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

As well as recognising groundbreaking work in the disciplines, the prize is intended to raise their status in society and to stimulate interest in these fields among children and young people, further enhancing the impact of Professor Pollock, and in turn the University’s work.

“Griselda Pollock is a beacon for generations of art and cultural historians,” said Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. “As the foremost feminist art historian working in the world today, her scholarly contributions to the field of research she helped to create are truly inspirational.”

But Professor Pollock is quick to recognise that she could not have got this far on her own. “Previous laureates are all giants in these fields. I have drawn on the work of so many of them in my own 50-year project as a feminist theorist and art historian, and as a transdisciplinary cultural analyst.

“I thank my colleagues at the University for my nomination. This award arises not only from my own long career dedicated to challenging the wrongs and violence of the patriarchal, the sexist, the racist, the homophobic, the antisemitic and the Eurocentric in art, thought and culture, it is also a very public approbation and recognition of the intellectual and pedagogical importance and the larger cultural impact of feminist, postcolonial and queer interventions in the way we understand our cultures, past and present.”

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