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SMCM Professor Jeffrey Hammond Awarded Pushcart Prize for Essay


May 25, 2010
Press Release #10-118

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Jeffrey Hammond, English professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland (SMCM), received a prestigious 2010 Pushcart Prize for his essay "My Father's Hats."  The essay was published in the fall 2009 issue of Shenandoah, a journal affiliated with Washington & Lee University.  Hammond previously won a Pushcart Prize in 2000. 

According to Bill Henderson, publisher and editor of The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, "there are around 8,000 nominations for the award every year, and to even receive one once is extremely rare."  The winning works are published in The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, which has been published annually since 1976.  The annual series is the most honored literary project in America and writers of short stories, poetry, and essays are represented in the annual collection. Writers first noted in the Pushcart Prize series include Mona Simpson, John Irving, Rick Moody, Tim O'Brien and Jayne Anne Phillips.  The Pushcart Prize has been referred to as "The single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today," by the New York Times Book Review

"We are honored to have a professor at our college receive a Pushcart Prize not just once, but twice," said Larry Vote, acting president and provost of SMCM.  "Jeff has been an integral part of the college community and we are privileged to have him here."

Of his winning essay on the role of hats in society, "My Father's Hats," Hammond explains, "The man's hat has become less a physical object than a piece of visual shorthand that is sometimes legible and sometimes not. Although a movie or cartoon explorer without his pith helmet is just a guy in a jungle, most hats have become impossible to read. The only place to see a crown nowadays is in Burger King commercials: has the crown come to mean char-broiled? Lincoln's top hat no longer connotes dignity, but has instead been consigned to chimney-sweep ads in the Yellow Pages and middle-school magicians; professional magicians have long since abandoned it for the David Copperfield, regular-guy look."

Hammond teaches courses in early American literature, biblical and classical literature, creative nonfiction, and autobiographical writing.  His latest book, Little Big World, Collecting Louis Marx and the American Fifties, is about vintage toys as a reflection of post-war American culture and is scheduled to come out in the fall of 2010.  Hammond's work has appeared in journals such as Antioch Review, Missouri Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Sport Literate, American Scholar, and Crab Orchard Review, among others.  He has been cited by the Pushcart Annual and Best American Essays and has previously won the Shenandoah's Carter Prize for Essay and the Missouri Review Editors' Prize for Essay.  Hammond also wrote This Place Where We Are, a series of reflections on SMCM and its liberal arts mission, and Small Comforts: Essays at Middle Age, a book that explores the amusements and anxieties of no longer being young, but not yet being old. 

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review. Founded in 1840 as Maryland's "monument school" commemorating the state's first capital, SMCM is the state's only public honors college.

More than 2,000 students attend the college, which has the highest graduation rate for all Maryland public colleges and universities. The school's waterfront campus along the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland is home to the 2009 National Intercollegiate Sailing Association Co-ed champions.