Awards, Fontaine Society, School of Arts & Sciences

PhD student Joseph Earl Thomas wins 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize

Congratulations to Joseph Earl Thomas, doctoral student in English, on being awarded the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize. First awarded in 2018, the Chautauqua Janus Prize celebrates one emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder literary conventions, historical narratives and readers’ imaginations.

Mr. Thomas won for his piece, "Reality Marble." Exploring loneliness, race, masculinity, violence and a search for happiness, “Reality Marble” is a memoir exploring loneliness, race, masculinity, and drawing on themes from the natural world and from fantasy and science fiction genres. 

“There’s this almost incommunicable subjectivity in childhood that I’m trying to take seriously as a life of thinking in itself that’s very separate from me, rather than a stepping stone toward a better, more stoic and individuated self with an empathetic lure to gaze back on,” Mr. Thomas said. “Reality Marble, using the coming-of-age genre, tries to think about what it’s like to never quite get there, because I certainly never thought I would and plenty of us, every day, don’t.”

Mr. Thomas receives an award of $5,000 and will present a public lecture and reading at a celebratory event as part of Chautauqua Institution’s online assembly season this summer. His writing, which has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing, and The Kenyon Review, will also appear in a future issue of the literary journal, Chautauqua.

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