I admit it, until I agreed to chair the fund-raising dinner for the Harold Washington Literary Award (sponsored by the Near South Planning Board in support of their Authors in Schools program), I did not know the work of Edward P. Jones, this year's recipient. Shame on me.
Jones is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, with both short stories and novels under his belt. Indeed, he has been identified as someone whose work is as critical to making sense of slavery in the US through the lens of literature as, for example, Toni Morrison's Beloved. The weaving of history and story together into imaginative literature can be transformative of our ability to understand -- in nontrivial ways -- the past.
It is exactly this which I think makes Edward P. Jones counts a s Shimerian. Bringing history together with imagination is partly what Shimer is all about -- as a place that reads historically important texts -- and wrestles with them in contemporary contexts (in, e.g., comps and, as importantly, the hallways). The bridge is a conjoining of imagination with critical inquiry. The bridge is the work of the mind that is the life of the mind. And the impact of his work, as we hope is true of that work we call Shimer, is to reshape the world for the better by knowing our past and our present well.
Though once again, not a graduate or alum in any sense, with no known relationship to Shimer -- except that Shimerprez will be chairing a dinner at which he will receive the award noted above -- here is a man who exemplifies many of our values.