The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Reception to be held for Plumly


Stanley Plumly’s *The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner With Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb * is being awarded the highest honor in literary criticism, the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism.

A reception will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chambers. Along with being an incredible honor, the award also includes a $30,000 prize.

*Immortal Evening* allows readers to be a fly on the wall as Plumly creates a version of the infamous night in 1817 when painter Benjamin Robert Haydon welcomed poets John Keats and William Wordsworth into his home to celebrate the completion of his painting *Christ’s Entrance into Jerusalem*, in which Keats, Wordsworth, and Charles Lamb are represented.

To begin the search for a winner, an international panel of judges, all prominent critics and writers, each select two critical works they think worthy of this prize from the past four years. The six judges then spend November to February reading the works before ranking them. This year’s judges were Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael Wood, John Kerrigan, Elaine Scarry, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Recent prominent winners include Fredric Jameson, Marina Warner, Elaine Showalter, Mark McGurl, and Seth Lerer.

The literary criticism award is designed to bring to life the health of literary criticism in the English language as well as reward and encourage excellence in the field.

Garrett Stewart, the James O. Freedman Professor of Letters at the University of Iowa and longtime judge of the award, said it is surprising to find a creative-writing program awarding a prize to critics, given the relationship between authors and critics.

“Everyone’s always noticed the irony of that because writers are often nervous about critics or resent them for their misunderstandings,” Stewart said. “It’s a nice idea that it should be writers who appreciate and celebrate writing about their [writing].”

Stewart said the award is designed to “honor this long tradition of ruminative, reflective thinking about literature.”

“It’s a threatened species of writing,” Stewart said. “[This is] because university presses, who publish it, are strapped for funds and are cutting back their publication lists. However, its value is to keep alive a public discourse about writing, whether it be about current writing or writing of the past, in a way that opens the literature up to readers. It grants us the privilege of reading books we’re interested in through the eyes of an expert.”


What: Stanley Plumly’s Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism reception

When: 4 p.m. Thursday

Where: Old Capitol Senate Chamber

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