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Philosophers, theologians, historians, poets, literary critics, documentarians, and others from around the United States (and one global entry from Israel) applied or were nominated for the prestigious 2022 Hiett Prize awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in Dallas. Today, the Dallas Institute and its peer-juried panel of judges announce this year’s four finalists: poet, rabbi, and philosopher Zohar Atkins, Ph.D. (Charlottesville, VA/New York, NY); literary critic Jason M. Baxter, Ph.D. (Lander, WY); literary critic Ryan McDermott, Ph.D. (Pittsburgh, PA); and noted filmmaker Sanjay Rawal (Jamaica, NY).

Differing from lifetime achievement awards, the Hiett Prize honors rising stars in the humanities whose work shows extraordinary promise for the future and who are already making a difference in the way we think about the world. Established and endowed in 2005 by philanthropist Kim Hiett Jordan, a $50,000 cash prize – one of the largest of its kind – is awarded to one winner each year with the aim of invigorating civic life and culture through serious thought informed by scholarship in the humanities.

“Hiett Prize winners are selected for their ability to open our minds and widen our horizons – to help us see beyond the limits governing our normal discourse – and we are eternally grateful to Kim Hiett Jordan for her vision and generosity,” remarked Dr. Seemee Ali, President of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She added, “The work of each nominee is as ethical and practical as it is theoretical. Each has taken responsibility to apply the wisdom of the humanities – freshly conceived — to the deepest crises of our bewildering times. Each of them sheds light on the latest iterations of perennial problems concerning the meaning of humanity itself. Each provides a brilliant model of what the study of the humanities can offer, how the humanities remain vital.”

Among the 16 past Hiett Prize winners are Tiya Alicia Miles (2007), whose work in Black, Native and US Women’s histories earned 2021 National Book Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant; William Deresiewicz (2013), author of Excellent Sheep: the Miseducation of the American Elite, who has been called “one of America’s best young public intellectuals”; and Jared Farmer (2014), a historian and “geo-humanist” who writes about culture, nature, and water in the American West.

After COVID-19 pushed the annual virtual event in 2020 and required postponement of the 2021 award, this year’s Hiett Prize Award gala returns to in-person at The Institute’s historic State-Thomas campus (2723 Routh St., Dallas, 75201) on April 12, 2022, 6-9 pm The catered celebration will honor all finalists, include remarks from the winner who will be announced at the event, and presentation of the “Peggy” Pegasus Award created on commission by noted Dallas designer Jan Barboglio. Admission is free, but space is limited so reservations are required. Reservations are first-come, first-served at Valet parking will be provided.

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Press may download images and additional resources from this Dropbox press kit folder, including Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and Hiett Prize Award Gala event logos; finalists’ headshots and bios; and event venue photos.

For a complete list of past Hiett Prize winners, go here.

For Dallas Institute’s current board (chaired by Walter Elcock) and advisory board members, go here.

For a list of Dallas Institute Fellows, go here.

About Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture:

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture was established in 1980 by Dallas civic visionaries as a nonprofit educational organization whose purpose is to enrich and deepen the practical life of the city with the wisdom and imagination of the humanities. Through its courses of study, public seminars, professional programs for educators, publications, conferences, and civic involvement, the Dallas Institute brings thought, imagination, language, and sensibility to bear on the convergence between the visible shaping of the world and the permanent values necessary for the crafting of culture. More information about Dallas Institute can be found online on its website or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

  • 2022 Hiett Prize Finalists named by Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture

  • Hiett Prize logo



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