Zagajewski Prize & Lecture

2023-2024 Prize Winner
Elaine Wang, ‘Autobiography of a Vase,’ Raritan (forthcoming) 

'Autobiography of a Vase' is a beautifully sustained prosopopeia, as the titular vase registers its own specific sensorium, sensitivity to light, and gradually, its relation to successive "masters" and unfolding centuries of Chinese history.  The piece delicately yet powerfully evokes the specificity of this vase and its location on a specific shelf, alongside other vases and objects, and its sudden displacement during political upheaval.  An experiment in material history via the object, but also via sensibility, this evocative story (or prose poem) allows the character of the vase -- profoundly attentive, rhetorically commanding, subtle in its registrations, alternately lordly and plain in its reckonings -- to emerge with a distinctive power.  It is a most worthy prize-winner, and one especially in line with Adam Zagajewski's profound commitments to sustaining as well as interrogating aesthetics (and the high style) in the midst of profound cultural shifts and challenges.


About the Award
The Adam Zagajewski Prize was established by an alumnus to honor the poet and former Committee on Social Thought faculty member, Adam Zagajewski, and to encourage future generations of students to write for a public audience. We remember his spirit: humane, cultured, searching, dedicated to the flourishing of the inner life.

The prize is awarded annually to a Committee on Social Thought student in recognition of a single published work of outstanding writing for a public (non-academic) audience.

The biennial Adam Zagajewski Lecture series is dedicated to speakers who exemplify
mastery of the art of the essay.

Photo of Adam Zagajewski
Photograph of Adam Zagajewski