Athens, Ga. – Jared Klein, distinguished research professor of linguistics, classics, and Germanic and Slavic languages at the University of Georgia, has been named recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Humanities and Cultural Studies.
He will use the award to teach and do research at the University of Vienna from March-July 2011, where he will lead two courses: the stylistics of the Rigveda, the ancient Indian collection of Sanskrit hymns sacred to Hindus, and Indo-European Discourse Structure. He also will work on his book Stylistic Repetition in the Rigveda.
Although many scholars receive Fulbright Awards (including a number from UGA over the years), awards in the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program, according to the Fulbright website. Only about 5 percent of Fulbrights awarded are in this category.
“In studying the Rigveda, we find the earliest examples in human literature of the stylistic figures later identified and used by the Romans and Greeks, and this became a foundation for the study of classical rhetoric, which beginning in the Middle Ages formed an important part of a liberal education,” said Klein. “This is also the earliest place in the Indo-European-speaking world we find use of the human poetic faculties on a massive scale, and it’s interesting to see that the way in which they approached poetry was essentially no different from the way people do today.”
Klein is the fourth UGA faculty member to receive a Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Chair and the first since 2000. He is the only current member of the UGA faculty to have received this honor.
The Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Program each year comprises approximately 40 distinguished lecturing, distinguished research and distinguished lecturing/research awards ranging from three to 12 months. Those selected are considered eminent scholars and have a significant publication and teaching records.
Klein received his bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University and, in linguistics, M. Phil., M.A and Ph.D. degrees all from Yale University. He has spent his entire career at UGA, starting as a temporary assistant professor in 1972, earning the rank of professor in 1984 and distinguished research professor in 2002.
Klein is director of the UGA Program in Linguistics, along with his appointments in classics and Germanic and Slavic Studies. All these programs are part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
He has had research interests in the Rigveda for many years and also teaches a three-semester sequence in Sanskrit at UGA, and he says there has been a growing interest in the language over the years. He also teaches or has taught comparative grammar of Greek and Latin, Gothic, Introduction to Indo-European, Classical Armenian and historical linguistics. In addition to his work in Vedic Sanskrit, he has a research interest in those Indo-European languages whose earliest texts are translations of the Greek or Latin New Testament.
Klein is the author of numerous scholarly papers, books and book reviews. He and UGA colleague Max Reinhart published a translation of Brother Jesus: The Nazarene through Jewish Eyes by Schalom Ben-Chorin, with the University of Georgia Press in 2001.
He has represented the University of Georgia overseas as a teacher and researcher on numerous occasions over the years. Klein was a Georgia-Erlangen exchange professor in 1983, a visiting professor at the University of Zurich during summer semester 1985, and Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem during fall semester the same year. He has also held a visiting professorship at the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes in Paris (1993) and served as Leiv Eiriksson Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Oslo in 2008.
Though Klein was in Vienna briefly to deliver two guest lectures in 2009, his months-long visit in 2011 will fulfill a lifelong quest for more than one reason.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to teach in Vienna,” he said. “Of course, I believe the classes I will teach can help my students have a new understanding of the beginnings of our literature. But I have also been a lifelong lover of music and an ardent amateur singer, so being able to be in the city of musicians-Mozart, Schubert, Brahms and so many more-will be a joy for me.”
The University of Vienna was founded in 1365 and counts among its alumni Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Gregor Mendel and dozens of other men and women known around the world.