New Yorker critic Vinson Cunningham wins 2021-22 Nathan Award

New Yorker critic Vinson Cunningham wins 2021-22 Nathan Award

Vinson Cunningham

New Yorker magazine theater critic Vinson Cunningham has been named winner of the 2021-22 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.

According to the February 6, 2023 press release posted on the website of the Cornell Chronicle, the award committee highlighted the critic’s “lucid, lyrical, and evocative prose, through which he draws his readers into the performance moments he chronicles” as well as his reflections on art, politics, history, and culture in relation to the contemporary theater. The committee highlighted his essay on the Aleshea Harris play and experience What to Send Up When It Goes Down. in which Cunningham reflects on the return to in-person performances.

Conferred by the Chairs of the Departments of English at Cornell, Princeton, and Yale Universities, the Nathan Award is administered by Cornell’s Department of Literatures in English in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The award was endowed by George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) “to encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.” Nathan graduated from Cornell in 1904 and became the leading theatre critic of his era.  A reviewer with exceedingly high standards, he co-edited the magazine The Smart Set and wrote over 40 books, including his highly regarded essay collections “The Critic and the Drama” and “The Intimate Notebooks of George Jean Nathan.”

An archive of Nathan’s papers, correspondence, books and related artifacts are held in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections in the Cornell University Library.

Recent Nathan Award winners include Maya Phillips, Alexis Soloski, and Soraya Nadia McDonald.

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