R.A. Judy receives Truman Capote Award
R.A. Judy, professor of critical and cultural studies at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected by the University of Iowa as the 2023 recipient of the Truman Capote Literary Trust Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin.
The $30,000 prize—the largest annual cash prize for English-language literary criticism—is administered by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop on behalf of the estate of Truman Capote. A formal award ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. October 4 in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. The event will feature remarks by R.A. Judy and a reception in the Old Capitol Museum. Both events are open to the public.
Judy is honored for Sentient Flesh: Thinking in Disorder, Poiesis in Black, published by Duke University Press in 2020. The selection committee noted that the author’s contribution to intellectual life was significant decades before the work was published:
“Judy’s concern with the elemental entanglement of sentience, flesh, and semiosis, which Black thought, Black life, and Black art express and demonstrate in and against the grain of their suppression, incarceration, and genocidal regulation, and in the interest of a constant and irreducible disturbance of what Cedric Robinson calls ‘the terms of order’ that structure (the) world as politico-philosophical containment of earth are of the utmost importance. No one understands this importance, and no one has more faithfully, patiently, devotedly, and creatively illuminated it than Judy. His work as a philosopher, a literary and cultural critic, a teacher, an editor, and a colleague is a unique and emphatic announcement of what a certain fundamental strain of and in black studies has long been—namely the irruptive, disruptive turning and overturning of the ontological, metaphysical and epistemological foundations of modernity.”
Judy teaches courses in comparative literature, Black Critique, world literature with particular emphasis on Arabic, and African literature, as well as semiotics and literary theory. He is the author of (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (1992) and has published numerous essays in the areas of philosophy, contemporary Islamic philosophy, literary/cultural theory, music, and Arabic and American literatures.
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. The creation of the 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.
Newton Arvin, in whose memory the award was established, was one of the critics Capote admired. Arvin’s academic career at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, was destroyed in the late 1940s when his homosexuality was exposed.
The Truman Capote Literary Trust also generously awards fellowships to Writers' Workshop graduate students.
PAST WINNERS OF THE CAPOTE AWARD:
2022 Heather Clark, University of Huddersfield
2021 Kay Ryan, College of Marin
2020 Fred Moten, New York University
2019 Brent Hayes Edwards, Columbia University
2018 Robert Hass, University of California, Berkeley
2017 Dame Gillian Beer, University of Cambridge
2016 Kevin Birmingham, Harvard College Writing Program
2015 Stanley Plumly, University of Maryland
2014 Fredric Jameson, Duke University
2013 Marina Warner, New York University Abu Dhabi
2012 Elaine Showalter, Princeton University
2011 Mark McGurl, University of California at Los Angeles
2010 Seth Lerer, University of California at San Diego
2009 Geoffrey Hill, Boston University
2008 Helen Small, Pembroke College, Oxford University
2007 William Gass, Washington University in St. Louis
2006 Geoffrey Hartman, Yale University
2005 Angus Fletcher, City University of New York Graduate School
2004 Susan Stewart, Princeton University
2003 Seamus Heaney, Irish Nobel laureate
2002 Declan Kiberd, University College, Dublin
2001 Malcolm Bowie, Oxford University
2000 Elaine Scarry and Philip Fisher, Harvard University
1999 Charles Rosen, University of Chicago
1998 John Kerrigan, Cambridge University
1997 John Felstiner, Stanford University
1996 Helen Vendler, Harvard University
1995 P.N. Furbank, Open University