Applications are invited for participation in a themed seminar titled Reading Social Justice: The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards to be held from Monday, June 25th, through Friday, June 29th on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. The seminar is sponsored jointly by the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, Cuyahoga Community College, the Writers House at CWRU, and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.
About the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
When Edith Anisfield Wolf (1889-1963) was twelve years old, her father, the wealthy garment manufacturer John Anisfield, summoned her to his office in downtown Cleveland. Anisfield had emigrated from Vienna in 1876 at the age of 16 and earned his fortune by working his way up from the shop floor in textile plants to owning his own company. He invited his only child to help him decide how to channel the family wealth into philanthropy. The year was 1901—19 years before the nation as a whole would give women the right to vote.
Edith Anisfield Wolf dedicated her life to philanthropy and literature. A published poet fluent in several languages, she was one of the first women on the board of the Cleveland Public Library. In addition, she was active in the Women’s City Club, the Society for the Crippled and Disabled, and the Cleveland Branch of the American Society of Pen Women. When she died in 1963, she left her personal library and several art pieces to the Cleveland Public Library, and her house on East Boulevard to the Cleveland Welfare Association. Her greatest legacy, however, is the creation of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
In 1935, Edith Anisfield Wolf established what she initially called the John Anisfield Book Award to honor nonfiction books that furthered the cause of “race relations” (as she later wrote in her will), deepened our understanding of racism, and enhanced our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. At its founding, the prize took “race relations” to mean relations between among black and white and Jewish Americans. Yet, the Award quickly broadened, recognizing books about immigrants and Native American histories. More than eighty years later, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have a distinguished history of honoring writers who expanded readers’ grasp not only of race, but the diversities of disability, religion, ethnicity and gender, drawing from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the humanities.
The Cleveland Foundation (established in 1914), the world’s first community foundation, has administered the awards since 1963. Winners have included Nobel Laureates Ralph Bunche, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, Nadine Gordimer, Gunnar Myrdal and Wole Soyinka, along with other major literary figures such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was recognized in 1959 for his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, well before he became a national figure. Recent honorees have included Marlon James, Margot Lee Shetterly, the poets Marilyn Chin and Jericho Brown, and Lifetime Achievement winners Orlando Patterson and Isabel Allende.
This seminar will use the 2018 winning authors of the Anisfield-Wolf book awards as a platform for developing class materials and pedagogy for undergraduate college students. One goal is to share pedagogy and class design ideas for future seminars. In addition to discussing how these texts engage race/ethnicity and history, seminar participants will consider how different genres – poetry, fiction, and non-fiction – contribute to how we teach and have productive dialogue on our history and complex social issues.
The recipients for 2018 are:
Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor, poetry
N. Scott Momaday, Lifetime Achievement
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing, fiction
Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News, non-fiction
Participants should fulfill three primary outcomes:
In order to receive the participation award, seminar participants must attend and participate in each of the daily meetings (approximately 4-5 hours), time to be determined by participants. Books and supplemental readings will be distributed in advance. Each participant will know the text she or he is presenting before the seminar begins, and should familiarize themselves with the other books as well. Participants are encouraged to develop and suggest additional readings to supplement their discussion of the texts, which the administrators will help distribute. All participants will be required to submit an evaluation of their seminar experience upon completion.
To apply, please submit a CV, a statement of interest (maximum 1000 words), and any required recommendations to Allison Morgan, CHC Program Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org), by Saturday, May 12, 2018 for consideration. Please also include your ranked list of preferred texts. Applications will be reviewed by a committee, and participants will be notified by May 19th. Space is limited to 13 participants.