According to the faculty committee that selected him, "Helgerson is truly one of the stars not only of the UCSB English Department but of the UC system as a whole. His work has received tremendous recognition both in this country and abroad, and it is fully appropriate that he receive equivalent recognition here on his home campus."
A UCSB faculty member since 1970, Helgerson was recently awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as a UC President's Fellowship in the Humanities to complete his newest book, tentatively titled "Adulterous Alliances: Home, State, and History in Early Modern European Drama and Painting."
His last book, "Forms of Nationhood," which garnered both the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association and the British Counsel Prize in the Humanities, analyzed the emergence of English national identity in various 16th- and 17th-century cultural productions: poetry, the law, drama, religious doctrine, map-making, and narratives of discovery.
He is also the author of the books "The Elizabethan Prodigals" and "Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton and the Literary System"in addition to numerous journal and conference papers.
Helgerson received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1970. In addition to teaching and conducting research as a professor of English at UCSB, he served as the department's chair from 1989-93 and was the chair of the campus's Renaissance Studies Program from 1975-77 and 1988-90.
Helgerson is the 43rd recipient of the lectureship, which was established in 1954. Honorees give a public lecture, usually in the spring.