Kluge Prize

Kluge Prize

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The John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity is awarded for lifetime achievement in the humanistic and social sciences to celebrate the importance of the Intellectual Arts for the public interest.


The prize is awarded by the John W. Kluge Center
John W. Kluge Center
The John W. Kluge Center occupies study and meeting spaces within the Library of Congress' restored Thomas Jefferson Building. The Center brings together a group of 21 international scholars, the Kluge Scholars' Council, to stimulate, energize, and distill wisdom from the rich resources of the...

 at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

. The Prize recognizes at the dawn of the Third Millennium the promise that the United States brought to the world at the end of the Second Millennium by demonstrating leadership in the human sciences and subsidizing them at a level unprecedented in human history. The Prize will be conferred in a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building, attended by American political leaders to dramatize America's commitment to these areas of human inquiry. The Prize winner will give an address, will remain in residence at the Library of Congress for a short time thereafter, and will be expected to have some informal interaction with Members of the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....


Members of the Scholars' Council
Kluge Scholars' Council
The Kluge Scholars' Council is a body of twenty-one distinguished international scholars, convened by the Librarian of Congress to advise on matters related to the John W. Kluge Center and the Kluge Prize...

, as described in the appended Charter of the John W. Kluge Center, and holders of the Kluge Chairs will be among those offering recommendations to the Librarian of Congress concerning recipients of the Kluge Prize.

Endowed by Library benefactor John W. Kluge, the Kluge prize rewards lifetime achievement in the wide range of disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

s. Such disciplines include history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics. The award is at the financial level of the Nobel awards.

The prize is international; the recipient may be of any nationality, writing in any language. The main criterion for a recipient of the Kluge Prize is deep intellectual accomplishment in the human sciences. The recipient's body of work should evidence growth in maturity and range over the years. The recipient will have demonstrated unusual distinction within a given area of inquiry and across disciplines in the human sciences. Significantly, the recipient's writings should be, in large part, understandable and important for those involved in public affairs.


In order to ensure consideration of as wide a pool of candidates as possible, in 2001, the Librarian of Congress solicited nominations for the Kluge Prize from a broad range of individuals knowledgeable about the humanities and social sciences in colleges, universities, and research institutions across the globe, as well as from independent scholars and writers.

In 2002, the Librarian of the Library of Congress called upon a Scholars' Council of 20 preeminent scholars from around the world to consider the range of nominations. The council had been established to offer suggestions and advice on the choice of scholars to study at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library.

Based upon extensive research and further recommendations, the director of the Office of Scholarly Programs prepared a list of candidates for the Librarian's consideration in 2003. In addition to soliciting numerous outside reviews for each of these scholars, the Librarian called upon an expert staff of curators in the Library to conduct extensive biographical and bibliographical research as well as to gather published reviews and discussions of each candidate's work, prepare abstracts of translations of key articles from material available only in foreign languages, and provide a brief characterization and evaluation of the scholarly corpus of the candidate.

Finally, detailed dossiers on each candidate were sent to the members of the Final Kluge Prize Review Panel. Deliberating at the Library, this panel submitted its recommendations to the Librarian, who then made the final decision.

Past winners

  • 2003 – Leszek Kołakowski
  • 2004 – Jaroslav Pelikan
    Jaroslav Pelikan
    Jaroslav Jan Pelikan was a scholar in the history of Christianity, Christian theology and medieval intellectual history.-Early years:...

     and Paul Ricœur
  • 2006 – John Hope Franklin
    John Hope Franklin
    John Hope Franklin was a United States historian and past president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Franklin is best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, and...

     and Yu Ying-shih
    Yu Ying-shih
    Yu Ying-shih is a Chinese American historian known for his mastery of sources for Chinese history and philosophy, his ability to synthesize them on a wide range of topics, and for his advocacy for a new Confucianism...

  • 2008 – Romila Thapar
    Romila Thapar
    Romila Thapar is an Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India.-Work:After graduating from Panjab University, Thapar earned her doctorate under A. L. Basham at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London in 1958...

     and Peter Brown
    Peter Brown (historian)
    Peter Robert Lamont Brown is Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University. His principal contributions to the discipline have been in the field of late antiquity and, in particular, the religious culture of the later Roman Empire and early medieval Europe.-Life:Peter Brown was born in...