Jacques Martin Barzun (1907-) continues to be a leading voice in the fields of literature, education, and cultural history. A native of France, he moved to the United States of America in 1920 and was a graduate of Columbia University in 1927 (B.A.) and 1932 (Ph.D.). Barzun became one of the founders of the discipline of cultural history during his long tenure as Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia from 1928 until 1955. From 1955 to 1958 he served as dean of the graduate school at Columbia, and then as dean of faculties and provost until 1968.
His most influential works include Darwin, Marx, and Wagner (1941), Teacher in America (1945), The House of Intellect (1959), Classic, Romantic, and Modern (1961), and Science: The Glorious Entertainment (1964). He has continued to write on education and cultural history since his retirement from Columbia, and his most recent work, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present (2000), was a New York Times bestseller, lauded by historians, literary critics, and popular reviewers alike as a sweeping and powerful survey of the recent history of Western culture. In addition to these works, he has published many other books (30 to date), articles, and reviews, and is considered one of the world's leading experts on the work of Hector Berlioz.
Barzun is recognized by the American Philosophical Society with The Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History, an award presented to cultural historians in honor of newly published work since 1993. Barzun retired to San Antonio, Texas, where he continues to write.
Barzun was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. He also received the Gold Medal for Criticism from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he was twice president.
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