A! Magazine for the Arts

ETSU Professor awarded Hoffman Prize

February 24, 2014

East Tennessee State University's Dr. Robert Sawyer, a professor in the Department of Literature and Language, has been named co-winner of the 2013 Hoffman Prize.

The amount of £9,000 was divided between Sawyer and Kirk Melnikoff of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, with each receiving $7,383. The prize continues to be one of the largest cash awards granted for a literary essay.

It is administered by The King's School in Canterbury, England. Initiated in 1988 by the late Calvin Hoffman, the competition is open to scholars around the world. Hoffman, author of "The Murder of the Man Who Was Shakespeare" published in 1955, was a strong believer in the theory that playwright Christopher Marlowe was the actual author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. He established the prize in an effort to find support for his beliefs, but because the Hoffman estate realized no one could ever prove this as fact, the competition has become generalized to include studies of the relationship between the two authors. Such noted Shakespearean scholars as Jonathan Bate, James
Shapiro, Lukas Erne, Ruth Lunney and David Riggs are past winners.

Sawyer's prize-winning essay is entitled "Recent Reckonings: Marlowe, Shakespeare and 21st-Century Terrorism." His research for the project was funded in part by an ETSU Research Development Committee small grant.

Sawyer says, "When I got the rather slim envelope from the competition in the campus mail, I was certain it was a polite "thanks, but no thanks' message. Once I read it, I had to re-read it to be sure I understood it correctly. My response was one of immense