Memoirist Wins Major Humanities Prize

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture has named an author the 2010 recipient of the Hiett Prize in Humanities. The fifty-thousand-dollar prize, given to honor a person "whose work in the humanities shows extraordinary promise and has a significant public component related to contemporary culture," goes this year to memoirist, literary journalist, and former whiz kid Mark Oppenheimer.

Currently a visiting professor of creative writing at Wellesley College near Boston, Oppenheimer is the author of the memoir Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate, in part a story of his precocious youth in words, published by Free Press in April. He is also the Beliefs columnist for the New York Times, and his essays have appeared in Slate, the New York Times Magazine, the Forward, Details, among other magazines and newspapers. He is preceded as a Hiett Prize recipient by educators and writers in the fields of history, journalism, and ethnic studies.

Application information for the 2011 award will be posted in January. In the meantime, information about the prize and its recipients is available on the Dallas Institute Web site.

In the video below, Oppenheimer talks about one of the themes of his memoir: his early years as a competitive debater.