Zena Hitz Wins 2020 Hiett Prize


Philosopher Zena Hitz, tutor at St. John’s College, is the winner of the 2020 Hiett Prize in the Humanities.

The Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded annually by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, recognizes people “who are in the early stages of careers devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise.” It includes $50,000.

Dr. Hitz is the author of Lost In Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton University Press), published earlier this year. Prior to joining the faculty at St. John’s, she held positions at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Auburn University, and McGill. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton.

She says of her work: “My essays, lectures, and podcasts are on the human need to learn for its own sake and what it means for educational institutions to take that need seriously. My scholarly work is on law, virtue, friendship, and human nature in Plato and Aristotle.”

The prize announcement states: “In an age when widespread emphasis is placed on formal education as the route to a profitable career, Prof. Hitz is engaged in defending the intellectual life—learning for its own sake, for it ‘splendid uselessness,’ as she provocatively puts it, rather than in the service of economic or political goals.”

You can see a list of previous recipients of the Hiett Prize here.

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