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Samuel Weber Honored by French Government

The French government has awarded the Palmes Académiques to Samuel Weber, the Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Northwestern.

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April 9, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The French government has awarded the prestigious Palmes Académiques to Samuel Weber, the Avalon Foundation Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University.

Weber was honored for his outstanding work for The Northwestern University Paris Program in Critical Theory and the French Interdisciplinary Group. The award recognizes him "for the exceptional work he has done to support and promote French language and culture in the United States."

The Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) is an award for academics and educators. Dating from 1808 under Napoleonic rule, the award was established for university dignitaries to recognize their service in the field of education. Today it is conferred on educators, scholars, scientists and those in literary fields for excellence in these areas, both in France and other countries throughout the world.

Northwestern's Paris Program in Critical Theory was established in 2001 under Weber's directorship. Weber brought the program with him from UCLA. It provides up to five highly qualified advanced graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines a unique opportunity to spend one year in Paris familiarizing themselves with French and European theoretical research.

The program includes a weekly research seminar on a question of current concern in contemporary critical theory, informal discussions in Paris and, whenever possible, at Northwestern, and seminars with French and European visiting scholars in winter and spring quarters.

The program has established working relationships with the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Sciences Po and the Collège International de Philosophie.

Weber, who is a professor of German and adjunct professor of French, was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the oldest learned society in academia, in 2005.

Weber has published works on Balzac, Lacan and Freud, as well as on the relation of institutions and media to interpretation. He co-translated Theodor W. Adorno's work "Prisms" and had studied with Adorno as well as with Paul de Man.

His work in Germany in the 1980s as a dramaturge in theater and opera productions led to his book "Targets of Opportunity: On the Militarization of Thinking" published in 2005 by Fordham University Press. Weber's most recent work is a book-length study of the German critic, Walter Benjamin, titled "Benjamin's-abilities," published by Harvard UP. That book, as well as several others, are being translated into Chinese and will be published by Beijing University Press. His current research projects include "Toward a Politics of Singularity" and "The Uncanny".

His main research and teaching interests are the relation between philosophy, literature and art; psychoanalytical theory; theater; and the media.

Professor Weber began teaching at the Free University of Berlin and subsequently taught at the Johns Hopkins University and UCLA before joining Northwestern in 2001.