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Jill Dolan Wins George Jean Nathan Award for her Blog, "The Feminist Spectator"


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Jill Dolan, Annan Professor in English, Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and Director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University has received the prestigious George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for her blog, “The Feminist Spectator”.

The Nathan Award, administered by Cornell University’s Department of English, has been given annually since 1959 for “the best piece of drama criticism during the theatrical year.” Named for prominent and influential theater critic George Jean Nathan, the award realizes his “object and desire to encourage and assist in developing the art of drama criticism and the stimulation of intelligent playgoing.”   Awardees are selected by a majority vote of the heads of the English departments of Cornell, Princeton, and Yale universities. The award carries a $10,000 prize and is considered one of the most generous and distinguished in the American theater.

Dolan’s award represents the first time the honor has been conferred on a blog. As noted in the selection committee’s citation to Dolan, “In the late 1950’s when Nathan created the award to be given in his name, he could not possibly have envisioned this technological revolution that would arise just a few decades after his death.”

“I am incredibly honored by this recognition by my peers in the theater field,” noted Dolan upon receiving word of the award. “Theater and performance shape and reflect our lives, engender civic dialogue on important issues, serve as a vehicle for social change, and entertain us. It has been my great pleasure to encourage discussion on theater from a feminist perspective through the blog.”

The award will be presented at a ceremony at Princeton on April 28 and will include a talk by Dolan and other guest speakers on the topic of gender and criticism and blogging about the arts.

The award committee commended Dolan for her “consistently thoughtful and articulate discussions of the contemporary stage. Whether covering high-profile productions or classical pieces or revivals of more recent work, ‘The Feminist Perspective’ always offers her readers clear and well-reasoned analyses. Dolan intersperses informed personal responses to plays and performances with significant historical, political, and cultural insights that help frame and contextualize her remarks. A tireless champion of women artists, Dolan graciously, yet compellingly enjoins us to be mindful spectators, as well as lovers of the theater.”

Prior to joining the faculty at Princeton, Dolan was a professor of theater, performance, and feminist studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; and at the University of Texas at Austin, where she held the Zachary T. Scott Family Chair in Drama. She is the author of The Feminist Spectator as Critic (1989; to be reissued with a new introduction in 2012); Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theatre (2005); and Theatre & Sexuality (2010), as well as several other books and many articles and essays on feminist and lesbian/gay/queer contemporary American theater. She is a former president of the Women & Theater Program, from which she received a lifetime achievement award in 2011, and of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, from which she received the 2011 Outstanding Teacher Award. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University.

George Jean Nathan (1882-1958) established the award in his will. He graduated in 1904 from Cornell and was editor of the Cornell Daily Sun and the humor magazine The Cornell Widow. He went on to write for and co-edit (with H.L. Mencken) two influential magazines, The Smart Set and The American Mercury, and to publish 34 books on the theater. He is also known as the inspiration for Addison DeWitt, the critic played by George Sanders in the film All About Eve.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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