The appointment of Dr. Rosalind H. Williams as head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, effective July 1, has been announced by Dean Philip S. Khoury of the School of Humanities and Social Science.
Professor Williams, the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor in Writing, succeeds Professor Alan Lightman, who has headed the program since July 1991. He will return to full-time teaching in the program, the announcement said.
"Alan Lightman has been instrumental in strengthening writing and humanistic studies at MIT by bringing world-class writers to the program and through his own personal distinction as a new contemporary novelist," Dean Khoury said, in expressing appreciation for Professor Lightman's service.
Dr. Khoury said that Professor Williams is "one of the School's leaders in humanistic research and education. She has been instrumental in the development of important curricular interactions between the School of Humanities and Social Science and the School of Engineering, most notably through the Writing Initiative, which she heads." In the program, writing classes or "practica" are offered in conjunction with specific engineering classes, with a focus on the development of rhetorical and critical needs.
Professor Williams also served as associate chair of the faculty and chair of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program from 1991-93.
"Rosalind will bring to her new position as program head an impressive record of scholarship and broad service to the Institute, and I very much look forward to having her join the School Council," Dean Khoury said.
Professor Williams, a specialist in the cultural study of technology, received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1966, the MA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967 and the PhD in 1978 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She began her teaching career at MIT in 1983 as a lecturer in the writing program and will become a full professor on July 1.
Professor Williams is the author of numerous publications, including two major books: Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination (MIT Press, 1990) and Dream Worlds: Mass Consumption in Late Nineteenth-Century France (University of California Press, 1982). Her work in progress, Path and Place in Modern Life, is expected to have an important impact on the field of technology studies.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 17, 1995.