Natalie Zemon Davis is one of the most distinguished and versatile historians of modern times. A graduate of Smith College, she received her master’s degree at Radcliffe College and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Her teaching career has taken her to Brown University, the University of Toronto, the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton University. Davis was president of the American Historical Association for 1987, the second woman to hold the position. Emerita from Princeton, she is currently adjunct professor of history and anthropology and professor of medieval studies at the University of Toronto.
An author of eight books, Davis is a pioneer of anthropological and literary approaches to writing history. Her first book, Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975), is widely acknowledged as a path-breaking study of women, religion, and cultural change, and The Return of Martin Guerre (1983) delights undergraduate and general readers worldwide. It served as the basis for the acclaimed film starring Gerard Depardieu, released the same year. This past May, she published A Passion for History, which set out – in conversation with Denis Crouzet – her views on history, its methods, and philosophies. Davis was awarded the prestigious Holberg International Memorial Prize for 2010.