Royal Spanish Academy elects 2 campus professors emeriti as foreign corresponding members

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UC Berkeley professors emeriti Jerry Craddock and Charles Faulhaber, both former chairs of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, have been selected for lifetime appointments as foreign corresponding members in the prestigious Royal Spanish Academy.

The Royal Spanish Academy — founded in the 18th century — is modeled off the Académie française and is responsible for “guarding the purity” of the Spanish language by publishing the official Spanish dictionary and setting the official grammar rules of Spanish, Faulhaber said. There are currently 102 foreign corresponding members in the academy.

The title of foreign corresponding member is mostly honorific, as members do not take part in those duties, Faulhaber said. He added that the Royal Spanish Academy elects foreign corresponding members based on their whole body of work and that an appointment is similar to being elected into a sports hall of fame.

Craddock said it was an unexpected honor and that he believes he was chosen for his textual work with the law books of King Alfonso X of Castile and Léon and his establishment of the Cibola Project, which he has been working on since his retirement in 2002.

The Cibola Project aims to find Spanish records detailing the exploration of the American southwest, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. The project then transcribes the documents and translates some of them into English.

Faulhaber’s past accomplishments include serving from 1995 to 2011 as director of the Bancroft Library and starting the online database Philobiblon.

Philobiblon features a collection of Iberian Peninsula literature manuscripts and, with about 340,000 entries, is unrivaled in the field of medieval studies, according to Antonio Cortijo Ocaña, who worked on the project with Faulhaber.

“This was completely unheard of for the field of humanities,” Cortijo Ocaña said. “So we are basically talking about the fact that he is a pioneer in the studies of digital humanities.”

Some of the regular members of the Royal Spanish Academy are well-known authors, including Mario Vargas Llosa, the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“It’s a great honor, in my opinion, a very well deserved honor, something not only the honoree, but also the university and department, can be proud of,” said John Polt, campus professor emeritus in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Contact Alex Fang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @alexfang_DC.