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David Konstan, professor of classics and comparative literature, was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences this past weekend, alongside such luminaries as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, South African civil rights pioneer Nelson Mandela and Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman P'09.

The AAAS, which was founded in 1780 as a forum for collaboration among the nation's elite scholars, leaders, professionals and artists, annually honors "men and women of exceptional achievement" with election into its membership. Konstan was one of 212 new fellows and 19 Foreign Honorary Members inducted Saturday. 

Induction into the AAAS "marks the highest level of recognition in the arts and sciences," said Professor of History and Classics John Bodel, who has worked with Konstan since 1984.

"It's a great honor," Konstan said. "I was very moved."

His election as an AAAS member is the latest of many honors for Konstan, who has accumulated many awards and distinctions for his work during his more than 40 years as a professor, scholar and writer. Konstan's research focuses on ancient Greek and Latin literature and philosophy, and recently has revolved around the history of emotions in ancient Greek society.

Ancients provide modern people with a "diverse and rich set of emotions," Konstan said.
The honor also comes as Konstan nears retirement after more than 20 years on Brown's faculty — Konstan told The Herald on Tuesday that he intends to retire from teaching full-time at Brown at the end of this academic year.

The induction of Konstan, one of Brown's best-known classicists, into AAAS is "a great honor for Brown classics," said Bodel, who chairs the department.

Bodel also had high praise for his friend and colleague. "He's really one of the most dynamic figures in our profession" and "a widely respected scholar abroad," he said. "He is really quite a remarkable person."

In addition to his academic achievements, Konstan is "one of the most active and engaging" teachers at Brown, with "enormous energy (and) enormous charisma," Bodel said.

Election into the AAAS is a two-step process that begins when current members nominate individuals they believe should be considered for election. Nominated individuals are first considered by peers in their discipline "who consider their scholarship and contributions to the field" and decide whether to recommend induction, said Paul Karoff, an AAAS spokesman. Then the Academy's members elect each year's class from  the winnowed group.

The induction ceremony, which took place in Cambridge, Mass. over the weekend, involved "speeches (and) more speeches," Konstan said. "Everybody got up, shook hands," signed some papers, and were inducted.


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