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UK’s Susan Bordo Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

By Lindsey Piercy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 4, 2022) — Susan Bordo, professor emerita in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky, has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. 

Founded in 1780, the Academy honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, as well as advance the public good. 

“It's wonderful to have this kind of recognition, and alongside such distinguished company. I think of it as more than just a personal honor, but also an acknowledgment of the value of public, interdisciplinary scholarship. Crossing intellectual borders is what my work has always been about,” Bordo said. “I've never been limited by traditional divisions, and one of my central missions as an author has been to ‘translate’ academic research into writing that is accessible to a more general readership. When I was teaching, I encouraged my students to think, write and teach that way too. It’s been a joy to see them succeeding so brilliantly. And now this — I'm truly thrilled.” 

For more than 240 years, the Academy has been electing and engaging exceptional individuals. This year's selection of 261 new members continues a tradition of recognizing accomplishments and leadership in academia, the arts, industry, public policy and research. 

"We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas," David Oxtoby, president of the Academy, said. "These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future." 

"The Academy was founded on the belief that the new republic should honor truly accomplished individuals and engage them in meaningful work," Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the Academy's board of directors, said. "The Academy's dual mission continues to this day. Membership is an honor, and an opportunity to shape ideas and influence policy in areas as diverse as the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science."  

Bordo is known for the contemporary relevance of her writing. Her work has been translated into many languages, and individual chapters are frequently re-printed in collections and writing textbooks.  

Bordo’s first book, “The Flight to Objectivity” is considered a classic of feminist philosophy. “Unbearable Weight,” (University of California Press) is a best-seller and the first book to draw attention to the profound role of cultural images in the spread of eating problems across class and race. Named a “Notable Book of 1993” by The New York Times, it received a “Distinguished Publication Award” from the Association for Women in Psychology.  

“The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was featured in Mademoiselle, Elle, Vanity Fair, NPR and MSNBC, and has been hailed as one of the most sympathetic feminist accounts of male insecurities. 

“The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the first book to examine historical, literary, artistic, and media representations of Boleyn across the centuries, was critically acclaimed and remains highly influential in studies of the Tudors.  

A professor for many decades, Bordo retired from teaching — but not from writing.  She contributes to national publications, has published two books on politics, gender, and the media during and since the 2016 election, and most recently published “TV,” a volume in Bloomsbury’s “Object Lessons” series. She is also co-editor (with former UK Professors Cristina Alcalde and Ellen Rosenman) of “Provocations,” a transnational reader in the history of feminist thought. 

Bordo lives in Lexington with her husband, Edward Lee, daughter Cassie, three dogs and a cockatiel. 

The complete list of individuals elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, including 37 International Honorary Members from 16 countries, can be viewed here

The new members join a distinguished group of individuals elected to the Academy before them, including Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966), Stephen William Hawking (1984), and Condoleezza Rice (1997) in the twentieth; and more recently Jennifer Doudna (2003), Bryan Stevenson (2014), M. Temple Grandin (2016), John Legend (2017), Viet Thanh Nguyen (2018), James Fallows (2019), Joan Baez (2020), and Sanjay Gupta (2021). 

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.