Wallace Best, who is the professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton, won the award for his excellence in the textual Study of Religion.
“Best recovers Langston Hughes’s poetry as religious texts and retrieves Hughes, long described in binary terms as atheist or agnostic, as a religious persona with a complicated relationship to both biblical antecedents and to contemporaneous African American Christianity in Harlem. … Informed by ethnography and cultural theory, ‘Langston’s Salvation’ is elegantly written and may well inspire a vigorous reclamation of Hughes as a canonical religious author,” said the academy citation.
The award, which is given each year, recognizes books that significantly contributes to religious studies.
Along with Best, another professor, Eve Krakowski, received an honorable mention in the historical studies category for her new book, “Coming of Age in Medieval Egypt: Female Adolescence, Jewish Law, and Ordinary Culture.”