Ceremony to be held July 10 at White House
Monday, July 8, 2013
portrait of marilynne robinson
Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and faculty member in the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will be awarded a 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony Wednesday, July 10, at the White House.

Robinson is among 12 people to receive the 2012 National Humanities Medal. The award annually recognizes several individuals, groups, or institutions for work that has “deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities,” as stated on the National Endowment for the Humanities website.

“This recognition speaks to her stature as an educator and author, and we are proud to call her one of our very own,” UI President Sally Mason says of Robinson. “This is an extremely high honor. These medals are our national version of a Nobel prize.”

Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, says, "It is entirely fitting that Marilynne Robinson receive a National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. Marilynne is an iconic American writer whose generosity and brilliance bring so much to the workshop, the University of Iowa, and to our country's literature. We all feel lucky to have her be a part of our community. Not only is she a great writer and a marvelous example to the students, but she is also an exceptional teacher whose seminars are a campus highlight."

Robinson is the author of the novels Housekeeping, Gilead (which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005), and Home, and the nonfiction works When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country. Housekeeping was included in the New York Times Books of the Century and listed as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time by the UK Guardian Observer. In 1997 she received a Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts.

The White House statement announcing the award reads, “With moral strength and lyrical clarity, Robinson’s novels and nonfiction have traced our ethical connections to people in our lives, explored the world we inhabit, and defined universal truths about what it means to be human.”

This will be the second National Humanities Medal awarded to the Writers’ Workshop, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the University of Iowa overall. The Writers’ Workshop received a 2002 medal—at the time, just the second institution to receive the award.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. For a UI arts calendar and details about upcoming events visit the Arts Iowa website.