October 2009

imageAmherst’s Allen Guttmann, professor of English and American studies, has been honored with a prestigious lifetime achievement award from the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH). During a special two-day meeting of the group in Cologne, Germany, in August, Guttmann delivered an address titled “Ludic Diffusion as Cultural Imperialism?” and received an honorary ISOH diploma as well as a bronze bust of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. “I was especially pleased to be able to begin my address by thanking, at some length, the European scholars whose work had inspired me and whose help had been indispensable,” said Guttmann. “I was quite moved that many of these scholars come to Cologne in order to be present at the ceremony.”

In his 50 years at Amherst, Guttmann has taught courses on American history and literature and on the history of sports, among many topics. His 10 books on sports history have been praised (and disparaged, he says) in a number of books and essays and online in a set of four essays published in a special issue of the Journal of Sport History. The first of Guttmann’s books, From Ritual to Record (1978), has been translated into French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean. His other writings have won prizes from the North American Society for Sports History (twice), the International Society for the History of Sport, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. A graduate of the Universities of Florida and Minnesota and Columbia University, Guttmann has served as president of the North American Society for Sport History and on the editorial boards of a number of American, British, French and German journals dedicated to sports history or sports sociology. In 2005, he received an honorary degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

The ISOH was formed as the result of a meeting in London in December 1991. Charged with promoting and studying the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games, the members of the ISOH gather historical and statistical data concerning the Olympics and publish their research via journals and other works. At present, the ISOH’s 340 members hail from 48 nations and include most of the well-known Olympic historians and researchers on Olympic topics.