University of Iowa News Release
March 24, 2006
'The Geoffrey Hartman Reader' Captures 2006 Truman Capote Award
"The Geoffrey Hartman Reader," co-edited by Hartman and Daniel T. O'Hara, is the recipient of the 2006 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin. The $30,000 Capote Award, the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language, is administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
"The Geoffrey Hartman Reader" was published in 2004 by the Fordham University Press and Edinburgh University Press. Hartman is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Yale University.
The award comes amidst a wave of renewed interest in Capote, as a result of the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning film "Capote," about the author's life during the writing of "In Cold Blood."
Hartman's book was selected for the Capote Award by an international panel of prominent critics and writers -- Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael Wood, John Kerrigan, Elaine Scarry and James Wood -- each of whom nominated two books. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during the last four years, are eligible for nomination. After reading all the nominated books, each critic ranked the nominees.
Hartman is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of essays and is one of America's most renowned literary scholars. He also founded the Fortnoff Video Archives of Holocaust Testimonies and has written extensively on literary and moral questions related to the Holocaust, and he has played a critical role in opening Judaic studies to a wider audience of scholars and students.
He has been credited as one of the "founding fathers" of the Yale school of literary criticism and has earned a reputation as one of the outstanding scholars in the literature of the Romantic Period. He was educated at Queens College in New York and at Yale, where he earned a doctorate.
Hartman's co-editor, Daniel T. O'Hara, is the Mellon Term Professor of English at Temple University.
Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard University wrote of the "Reader," "Geoffrey Hartman seems to me one of the most important literary critics and theorists in the world. He is an exceptionally deep and decent thinker. I believe that his book will be a landmark." And Stanley Fish of the University of Illinois at Chicago wrote, "'The Geoffrey Hartman Reader' is long overdue. Geoffrey Hartman has been a major literary/cultural figure since the late 1950s and his energies continue unabated."
The Truman Capote Estate announced the establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust in 1994, during a breakfast at Tiffany's in New York City, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Capote's novella "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Among the breakfast guests were John Updike, George Plimpton, Mary Tyler Moore, Patricia Neal, Dominick Dunne, Geoffrey Holder and Richard Avedon.
Past winners of the Capote Award have been British scholar P.N. Fairbank, Helen Vendler of Harvard University, John Felstiner of Stanford University, John Kerrigan of Cambridge University, pianist/scholar Charles Rosen of the University of Chicago, Elaine Scarry and Philip Fisher of Harvard University, Malcolm Bowie of Oxford University, Declan Kiberd of University College-Dublin, Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Susan Stewart of Princeton University and Angus Fletcher, professor emeritus at the City University of New York Graduate School.
In addition to the administration of the literary criticism award, the Writers' Workshop involvement with the trust includes the awarding of Truman Capote Fellowships to UI students in creative writing.
The establishment of the Truman Capote Literary Trust was stipulated in the author's will, and the Annual Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin reflects Capote's frequently expressed concern for the health of literary criticism in the English language. The awards are designed to reward and encourage excellence in the field.
Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. However, Arvin's academic career at Smith College was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.
The first of the university-based creative writing programs that have collectively transformed the terrain of American literary life, the UI Writers' Workshop has nurtured poets and fiction writers for nearly 70 years. UI writing alumni have won more than a dozen Pulitzer Prizes, have been honored with virtually every other major American literary award, and count among their number many of America's most popular and critically acclaimed writers.
In 2003 the Iowa Writers' Workshop became the first university-based organization to be honored with the National Humanities Medal, awarded by the U.S government to the nation's leaders in the humanities.
The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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