Columbia Pulitzer Prize Winners

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Columbia Pulitzer Prize Winners

Genre 
Literature
Theatre

This year two Columbia professors recently won Pulitzer Prizes for their groundbreaking contributions to the arts. Hilton Als, Associate Professor of Writing at Columbia University School of the Arts won the prize for Criticism. Lynn Nottage, Associate Professor of Theater at Columbia University School of the Arts and acclaimed playwright has won a second Pulitzer Prize, this time for her play Sweat.

The Pulitzer Prize in Criticism has been awarded since 1970 to a newspaper or magazine writer for distinguished criticism using any available journalistic tool. The jury, chaired by author and critic Gail Caldwell, praised Als in their citation for his “theater reviews written with such erudition and linguistic sensitivity that they often become larger than their subjects.” Als certainly earned this coveted honor, having begun his career as a staff writer at The New Yorker in October 1994, and a theatre critic in 2002. Before going to The New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has written articles for The Nation and collaborated on film scripts for Swoon and Looking for Langston. He also edited the catalogue for the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition entitled Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art. Als’ first book, The Women, a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity, was published in 1996. His most recent book, White Girls, discusses various narratives around race and gender.

In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He was awarded a Guggenheim for Creative Writing in 2000 and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for 2002-03. In 2009, Als worked with the performer Justin Bond on Cold Water, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and videos by performers, at La MaMa Gallery. In 2010, he co-curated Self-Consciousness at the Veneklasen Werner Gallery in Berlin, and published Justin Bond/Jackie Curtis, his second book. He was recently appointed Associate Professor of Writing at the School of the Arts. CAA Arts Access was lucky enough to be a part of a tour Als lead for the Black Alumni Council at his exhibition Alice Neel, Uptown which he curated for the David Zwirner Gallery.

Lynn Nottage’s win comes as no surprise. Nottage is a championed and prolific playwright. Regarding the prize winning play Sweat, Michael Schulman from The New Yorker raves "The first theatrical landmark of the Trump era: Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat is a tough yet empathetic portrait of the America that came undone." Nottage is one of the most important creative voices of our age. Her other plays include By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, Ruined, Intimate Apparel, Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Las Meninas, Mud, River, Stone, Por’knockers, and POOF! She is the recipient of a PEN/Laura Pels Master Dramatist Award, Doris Duke Artist Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award, Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, Obie Awards, and a Guggenheim Grant. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild and the WGAE. Over the years, she has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That, and Harpo. She is writer/producer on the Netflix series She's Gotta Have It directed by Spike Lee.

CAA Arts Access had the privilege of hosting an evening at Sweat followed by a talkback with Nottage. We speak for the whole Columbia community in saying this play is a dramatic masterpiece that will serve as a raw and honest representation of the struggles minorities face in the labor force.

We are especially honored to have been able to work with this year’s recipients and support them as they continue to make the Columbia community proud.