Rachael Z. DeLue receives Behrman Award for the Humanities

May 6, 2024

Excerpt from

DeLue and Singer Receive Behrman Award for the Humanities

By Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications, May 6, 2024

Princeton professors Rachael Z. DeLue and Peter Singer have received the University’s 48th annual Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities.

DeLue is the Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 Professor in American Art, professor of art and archaeology and American studies, and chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology. She is jointly appointed in the Effron Center for the Study of America, and an associated faculty member in the High Meadows Environmental Institute, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, and the Program in Media and Modernity. She joined the Princeton faculty in 2005.

“Rachael is one of the great humanists in our University community who is deeply impactful in the undergraduate classroom, beloved by the graduate students she mentors, a powerful scholar and researcher, and someone of unusual if not unique service to the very importance and vitality of the humanities at Princeton,” wrote one colleague who nominated DeLue for the Behrman Award.

Another colleague wrote: “The humanities are central to Princeton’s mission, and I know of no colleague who has advocated more forcefully and persuasively for them.”

DeLue specializes in the history of knowledge in Europe and North America with a focus on intersections between art and science. In 2013, she helped co-design "America Then and Now," a team-taught introductory course for American studies, Asian American studies and Latino/Latina studies at Princeton. The course regularly draws nearly 200 undergraduates who study historical and contemporary novels, poems, film, songs, paintings and archival documents.

To acclimate students to objects and materials for academic research, DeLue’s courses regularly include visits to museums in New York and Philadelphia, along with works from Princeton’s art museum. To underscore the importance of place, she has taken students far from campus — her graduate seminar, “Terrains of Knowledge,” included a trip to Utah’s Great Salt Lake and Robert Smithson’s earthwork “Spiral Jetty” — but also close to home. An undergraduate course she co-taught with Nathan Arrington included a survey and excavation of the Princeton Battlefield.

DeLue is the author of George Inness and the Science of Landscape (2004), Landscape Theory (2008, co-edited with James Elkins), and Arthur Dove: Always Connect (2016). Her current book project, on “impossible images,” investigates the significance of the visual in the work of 19th-century scientists such as Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin.

She earned her bachelor’s in art history from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

In addition to teaching at Princeton, DeLue serves the broader art and humanities communities in multiple ways. She is the editor-in-chief of the Terra Foundation Essays and sits on the advisory board of the Archives of American Art Journal. She was previously the reviews editor for The Art Bulletin and served on the editorial board of the journal American Art. On Humanities Advocacy Day this March, DeLue was part of a New Jersey delegation that visited 11 congressional offices in Washington, D.C., to advocate for humanities funding.

“The humanities are central to Princeton’s mission, and I know of no colleague who has advocated more forcefully and persuasively for them.” — comment of a nominating colleague

Bronze Behrman medal

Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications