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Natalie Zemon Davis  

American-Canadian Historian

Natalie Zemon Davis is a social and cultural historian of early modern times. She has written on peasants and artisans in early modern France; on women in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Québec; on criminality and storytelling in sixteenth-century France; on forms of gift-giving in early modern times; and on Muslims and Christians in sixteenth-century Europe. She is the author of eight books, all of them translated into various foreign languages: Society and Culture in Early Modern France; The Return of Martin Guerre (she was also historical consultant for the film Le Retour de Martin Guerre); Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales in Sixteenth-Century France; Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives; The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France; Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision; A Passion for History. Conversations with Denis Crouzet; Trickster Travels. A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds. Together with Arlette Farge, she was coeditor of volume 3 (Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes) of A History of Women, edited by Michelle Perrot and Georges Duby.

She has taught at the University of Toronto, the University of California at Berkeley, and Princeton University, where she was Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. A former president of the American Historical Association and vice-president of the International Commission of Historical Sciences, she is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a corresponding fellow of the British Academy, and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académique. She is the recipient of various international prizes (including the 2010 Ludwig Holberg International Prize and the 2012 National Humanities Medal in the United States) and honorary degrees, including from Harvard University, the University of Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Cambridge University, Université de Lyon, Université de Toulouse, and Oxford University.

In 2012 she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Emerita from Princeton University, Natalie Zemon Davis is currently Adjunct Professor of History and Anthropology, Professor of Medieval Studies, and Senior Fellow in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. Her present research is on slavery and forms of sociability in 18th-century Suriname, including the study of a slave family over four generations, starting with its African past; and of a Jewish settler family over six generations.

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