Doug Hunt, 2010 Award Winner

The essays of Doug Hunt examine a large subject close at hand: the city in which he lives. 

 

"Columbia, Missouri, is a University town with pretensions to enlightenment, but it is also the capital of 'Little Dixie,'" Hunt says. Since 2003, he has been at work on a series of five narrative essays that walk the reader forward from Columbia's slavery era to present-day law enforcement.

 

In 2004, the Missouri Review published the first of these essays, "A Course in Applied Lynching," which recounts in harrowing detail the lynching of a man named James Scott at the edge of the University of Missouri campus in 1923.  The essay was listed as a "notable essay" in that year's Best American Essays.  Now self-published as a short book titled Summary Justice, the essay has

been instrumental in bringing together a coalition of black and white Columbians who are re-examining Scott's lynching and placing a proper gravestone on his unmarked grave. 

 

Another group of essays that may lead to a second book illustrate Columbia's social history by focusing on three generations of its founding family, tracing the town's violent beginnings and its later attempts to turn away from social and physical violence and become more democratic and progressive.

 

Hunt's turn to the nonfiction essay followed a career in academia as a teacher of composition and the author of a successful series of textbooks with Houghton Mifflin (The Dolphin Reader, The Riverside Guide to Writing, The Riverside Anthology of Literature) and an ethnographic study of teaching and learning, Misunderstanding the Assignment.

Richard J. Margolis Award

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