Newsroom Archive


Pulitzer-Winner John Matteson Appointed CUNY Distinguished Professor of English at John Jay College

New York, NY, June 26, 2012 – John Matteson, Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been appointed as a University Distinguished Professor by the City University of New York. Professor Matteson was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father.

"We congratulate Professor Matteson on this great honor. He has combined outstanding scholarship and engaging writing to produce works that have enlightened scholars, students and the general public. He continues to make significant contributions to the study of literature as well as to the overall academic life of the College," said Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College.

"For the longest time," says Professor Matteson, "humanities were not what sprang to mind when people thought about John Jay. It's wonderful to see how perceptions are changing. Just in the last few weeks, the John Jay English department has seen one of its professors receive a Fulbright Fellowship and another receive a Citizens of the City Award. Still another of my colleagues was recently reviewed in the New York Times for his book on Bruce Springsteen. I am absolutely delighted to be the first English professor at John Jay to become a distinguished professor, but it's also a great honor to belong to a truly distinguished department."

Professor Matteson joined the John Jay College faculty in 1997. He is a leading scholar of nineteenth-century American literature and recognized internationally for his work on Herman Melville, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, and Margaret Fuller. Following the extraordinary achievement of Eden's Outcasts, he published The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography which has also won enthusiastic reviews. Professor Matteson is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a former Fellow of the Leon Levy Center for Biography, and is now deputy director of the Levy Center. His was the first academic director of the John Jay College Honors Program and has received the Distinguished Faculty Award presented by the John Jay College Alumni Association and the Dean's Award for Distinguished Achievement by a Ph.D. Alumnus of the Columbia University School of Arts and Sciences.

He has contributed his scholarship to such organizations and activities as the Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association, the NEH Landmarks Program, the Louisa May Alcott Society, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and the Biographers International Organization. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal; The New York Times; The Harvard Theological Review; New England Quarterly; Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, and other publications.

Matteson has an A.B. in history from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. He also holds a J.D. from Harvard and has practiced as a litigation attorney in California and North Carolina.

The title of Distinguished Professor is conferred by the University Board of Trustees in recognition of exceptional scholarly achievement, and is reserved for faculty with records of outstanding performance by national and international standards of excellence in their professions.

Professor Matteson will join seven other John Jay faculty members whose work has won them appointment as Distinguished Professors: Blanche Wiesen Cook, Gerald Markowitz and Mike Wallace (History); Saul Kassin, Steven Penrod and Cathy Spatz Widom (Psychology), and Jock Young (Sociology).

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit