Prizes, scholarships, and grants

Prizes, scholarships, and grants for Nabokov students, scholars, and writers

International Vladimir Nabokov Society Prizes

In 2018, the International Vladimir Nabokov Society established a group of prizes generously funded by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation. The first round of prizes (2019) have been awarded and the winners of these prizes are listed at the bottom of this page. IVNS is now accepting submissions for its 2020 round of prizes. Applications are encouraged for all eligible work.

Administration and Funding: These prizes are administered, selected, and awarded by the International Vladimir Nabokov Society, and funded by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation. In all cases they will be awarded only where there is work of sufficient merit.

Timing: Prizes awarded in 2020 will be for work either submitted (in the case of undergraduate and postgraduate essays, theses and chapters), examined and accepted (in the case of the best dissertation prize) or published (in the case of the other prizes) in the calendar year 2019, except for the Brian Boyd Prize. The Brian Boyd Prize was awarded in 2019 for work published 2016 – 2018 and will next be awarded in 2022 for work published 2019 – 2021.

Language: Work can in principle be considered in any language. However, the judges have to be able to judge all entries fairly against one another; thus the only language in which contributions can be guaranteed consideration is English. If the judges have sufficient linguistic competence, they can judge work in other languages, and if they wish, commission expert reviewers in that language and consult with them.

Submission: All academic work and publications to be considered for prizes need to have reached the judges’ attention by April 30. Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com. 

Announcement: The prizes will  be announced in October 2020 on this website and on Nabokv-L, the Nabokov listserv.

 

Ellen Pifer Prize for Best Undergraduate Student Essay on Nabokov

Awarded annually for an undergraduate essay of any length. Value $200. The student's advisor must sign an endorsement. Professors should nominate exceptional student essays by contacting the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com.

Named in honor of American Nabokov scholar Ellen Pifer.

Dieter E. Zimmer Prize for Best Postgraduate Work on Nabokov

Awarded annually, to the best work on Nabokov done at master’s level, or as coursework towards a master’s or a PhD, or to a chapter of a PhD dissertation. Value $1500.

Named in honor of German Nabokov scholar, translator, and editor Dieter E. Zimmer.

Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com

Zoran Kuzmanovich Prize for Best PhD Dissertation on Nabokov

Awarded annually for the best dissertation predominantly (at least 50%) on Nabokov. Value $1500.

This prize honors the support given to young scholars by  American Nabokov scholar Zoran Kuzmanovich through his editorial work at Nabokov Studies, at MLA conferences, and in other ways, including establishing and funding the original PhD prize as the Kuzmanovich Family Prize. Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com

First award:

2017 Award: Constantine Muravnik, Nabokov's Philosophy of Art (excerpt)

Gennady Barabtarlo Best Essay Prize

Awarded annually for the best academic article or book chapter on Nabokov. Value $500.

Named in honor of Russian-American Nabokov scholar and editor, Gennady Barabtarlo

Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com

Jane Grayson Best First Book Prize

Awarded annually for a first book that makes a significant contribution to Nabokov studies. Value $1500. 

Named in honor of British Nabokov scholar, Jane Grayson.

Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com

First award of the Nabokov First Book Prize (as the biennial Samuel Schuman Prize, funded by the Kuzmanovich Family trust):

2017 Award (for books 2015-16): Julia Trubikhina, The Translator's Doubts: Nabokov and the Ambiguity of Translation

Brian Boyd Prize for Best Second Book on Nabokov 

Awarded every three years for a second book, at least 50% on Nabokov), by someone who has already published a book predominantly on Nabokov. Value $1000. The Brian Boyd Prize was awarded in 2019 for work published 2016 – 2018 and will next be awarded in 2022 for work published 2019 – 2021.

Named in honor of New Zealand Nabokov scholar, Brian Boyd.

Please contact the President and Vice-President of the IVNS, Thomas Karshan and Lara Delage-Toriel, nabokovprizes@yahoo.com

Vladimir Nabokov Society Travel Scholarships

Up to five travel scholarships of $500 will be awarded annually to younger scholars presenting at the annual conference supported by the IVNS. More details to be announced when the Call for Papers is issued.

 

Nabokov Studies Prize

This prize is generously funded by Zoran Kuzmanovich, the editor of Nabokov Studies.  

The Donald Barton Johnson Prize 

For the best essay published in Nabokov Studies honors the founding editor of Nabokov Studies. The prize is voted on by a rotating subset of the Nabokov Studies Editorial Board and members of the Davidson College Faculty.  The winner is chosen with a view to expanding the intellectual challenge and the range of Nabokov studies as well as deepening the human and professional connections among Nabokov scholars.

2013 Award: Thomas Karshan 

2015 Award: Eric Goldman

2017 Award: Deborah A. Martinsen  

 

Nabokov Online Journal Prizes

NOJ Prize for Best Contribution to Nabokov studies. Biennial, after first award. Value $600. Selected by popular vote.

2012 (for 2000-2011). Brian Boyd, Nabokov's Ada: The Place of Consciousness (2nd rev. ed., 2001).

2013 Stephen H. Blackwell, The Quill and the Scalpel: Nabokov's Art and the Worlds of Science (2009). 

 

NOJ Award for the Best Student Essay on Nabokov. Annual. Value $300. 

 

PEN Nabokov Prize

The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is a lifetime award, selected annually by a panel chosen by PEN American Center, for a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship. The winner receives a $50,000 prize, funded by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation.

2017 award: Adonis
2018 award: Edna O'Brien
2019 award: Sandra Cisneros


In its initial form the Prize was set up by PEN American Center and Dmitri Nabokov in 2000, was biennial, worth $20,000, and awarded to writers, principally novelists, "whose works evoke to some measure Nabokov's brilliant versatility and commitment to literature as a search for the deepest truth and the highest pleasure— what Nabokov called the 'indescribable tingle of the spine'" (to cite a no longer valid PEN American Center link). Under its initial terms, it was awarded in 2000 to William H. Gass, in 2002 to Mario Vargas Llosa, in 2004 to Mavis Gallant, in 2006 to Philip Roth, and in 2008 to Cynthia Ozick. The award then lapsed until it was revived under the new terms above in 2016.

 

Commendations for Nabokov Society Prizes 2019

1. The Ellen Pifer Prize for best undergraduate essay of 2018.

Awarded to Matt Walker (Ohio State University), for ‘“Being Aware of Being Aware of Being”: Nabokov’s Invitation to the Beyond”’. 

The judges write: ‘Matt Walker’s essay points to the problem of unknowability. His essay shows how Nabokov "views the world as an inexhaustible source of inspiration and discovery while simultaneously recognizing that no complete answer can ever be revealed,” skillfully interrelating Nabokov's treatment of time, the otherworld, language’s limitations, past/present and memory, based on a close reading of Nabokov’s texts. The essay builds an important and sophisticated argument using an impressive bibliography.’

2. The Dieter Zimmer Prize for graduate work on Nabokov of 2018.

Awarded to Erik Eklund (University of Noittingham), for ‘”A Green Lane in Paradise”: Eschatology and Theurgy in Humbert Humbert’s Lolita’.

The judges write: ‘In this astute and sophisticated essay, Erik Eklund argues for a bold new way of reading Nabokov’s most controversial novel.  Showing an impressive familiarity with existing Nabokov scholarship on the subject, Eklund deploys the insights of Russian religious philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev to map a way for coming to terms with the complex moral predicament posed by Lolita. According to the model furnished by Berdiaev and mobilized by Eklund, Humbert does find redemption at the end of his journey even as this redemption does not trivialize or justify his evil conduct towards Dolly Haze. Whether one agrees or not with Eklund’s argument, its power and nuance demand that it be taken seriously in the difficult task of analyzing the scandalous nature of Lolita.’

3. The Zoran Kuzmanovich Prize, for the best PhD dissertation predominantly on Nabokov of 2018.

Awarded jointly to Brendan Nieubuurt for his 2018 Columbia University dissertation ‘Flesh Made World: Inscription and the Embodied Self in Osip Mandel'shtam and Vladimir Nabokov’, and to Agnès Edel-Roy for her PhD dissertation entitled “Une ‘démocratie magique.’Politique et littérature dans les romans de Vladimir Nabokov” (Université Paris Est, 2018).

The judges write of Nieubuurt’s dissertation:‘Rilke’s ninth Duino elegy speaks of “Things which live by perishing,” and Nieubuurt surefootedly locates the traces of such self-inscribing perishings in Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading and Mandelstam’s The Egyptian Stamp. Through  Bergson’s theory of embodied being, Nieubuurt theorizes each writer’s “ontological exile” and offers an analysis of Mandel’shtam work that not only points out the similarity of the strategies Nabokov and Mandel’shtam deployed to resist being mired in the superficial reality of a Sovietized world but also explains why at various times Mandel’shtam’s poetry was a bedside companion for both Vladimir and Vera Nabokov.’

The judges write of Edel-Roy’s dissertation: ‘Agnès Edel-Roy’s PhD dissertation renews our understanding of Nabokov in relation to politics and to the questions of tyranny and control, arguing in favor of the relevance of Nabokov’s work today. Edel-Roy characterizes Nabokov as an author who favors emancipation, celebrates freedom and sees literature as a form of democracy. The “magic democracy” of fiction in the title is a quote from Nabokov’s lecture on Dickens. Edel-Roy’s work shows excellent knowledge of Nabokov’s Russian, French and American texts and contexts, as well as of Nabokov criticism in Russian, French and English. Building on existing research in Nabokov studies, Edel-Roy’s reading is a plea for better historicizing and contextualizing Nabokov within the 20thand the 21stcenturies. Her ambition is not only to read between the lines of Nabokov’s pronouncements about his work, but also to engage in a dialogue with Nabokov scholarship. Agnès Edel-Roy’s dissertation is ambitious and impressive in its scope and richness. The vastness, nuance and quality of her knowledge of Nabokov’s work, its reception and historical contexts are simply astounding. For these reasons, she amply deserves to be the co-recipient of the Zoran Kuzmanovich Prize for the Best PhD Dissertation on Nabokov.’

4. The Gennady Barabtarlo Prize, for the best academic article or book chapter on Nabokov of 2018.

Awarded to Professor Stephen Blackwell (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), for his article, ‘Calendar Anomalies, Pushkin and Aesthetic Love in Nabokov’, The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 96, No. 3 (July 2018), pp. 401-431.

The judges write: ‘In “Calendar Anomalies, Pushkin, and Aesthetic Love in Nabokov,” Stephen Blackwell provides an insightful interpretation of intricate Nabokovian chronology in LolitaPnin and Pale Fire and its interaction with Pushkin’s calendar Blackwell's discoveries and conclusions are backed up by a painstaking, very detailed textual and intertextual research. He reinforces the connection between the three novels and Nabokov’s Pushkin studies, supporting his claims with meticulous analysis of motif structures and dating patterns in such texts by his literary predecessor as Belkin Tales, “The Three Springs,” “I am sad: there is no friend with me,” “October 19, 1827,” “The Water Nymph [Rusalka],” and many others. Blackwell’s conclusions are polyphonic, in the true Bakhtinian sense, and refreshingly non-prescriptive. He links the theme of exile in Pnin to the Pushkinian paradigm of a poet’s abandoning his home and reaches the conclusion that, no matter what calendric “anomalies” there may be in Lolita, the novel owes some of its beautiful ambiguity to Pushkin, whose lesson “was precisely that: a fragile yet beautiful life of joyous openness, jaunty rebelliousness and freedom from entrapment and ‘completeness.’”’

5. The Jane Grayson Prize, for a first book of 2018 that makes a significant contribution to Nabokov studies.

Awarded to Michael Rodgers (Open University, UK) for his monograph Nabokov and Nietzsche: Problems and Perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2018).  

The judges write: ‘Like many Russian writers during the Silver Age, Nabokov was familiar with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.  Rather than providing a traditional study of influence, however, Rodgers uses Nietzschean themes that surface in Nabokov’s work—including eternal recurrence, amor fati, master-slave morality, the Übermensch, and productive experiences of moral disorientation and perspectivism (which demands individuals’ active engagement with truth)— to examine, often with insight and subtlety, problems in interpreting the author and his writing that have haunted Nabokov studies for decades.’

6. The Brian Boyd Prize, for the best book of 2016 - 2018 by someone who has previously published a book predominantly on Nabokov.

Awarded to Professor Stephen Blackwell (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Kurt Johnson for Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art (Yale University Press, 2016).

The judges write: ‘The judges for this Prize carefully considered five impressive books on Nabokov published in the last three years by established Nabokov scholars. Each would have made a worthy recipient, but ultimately they chose Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art, edited by Stephen Blackwell and Kurt Johnson (Yale University Press, 2016). Being a distinguished lepidopterist as well as one of the twentieth-century’s great novelists, Nabokov is a writer of outstanding interest to all those who care about the complex relationships between science and art. Fine Linescarries the existing work on this subject forward by presenting us with no fewer than 148 of Nabokov butterfly drawings, beautifully reproduced. The elegantly written and intellectually sophisticated introduction, drawing meticulously on a range of sources, sheds new light onto Nabokov’s thought and writing by focussing in particular on the fundamental questions of taxonomy and systematics. The annotations to each drawing are exceptional, providing every context that future students will need to understand what Nabokov was thinking about as he drew his butterflies. Although the Prize is awarded for the quality of the introduction, editorial work, and annotations, the judges note that the volume is enriched by ten excellent essays and a valuable bibliography. Yale University Press also deserve the praise and gratitude of Nabokovians, and of the literary and scientific community more broadly, for having made this beautiful book.