OVERVIEW: Tennessee Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Humanities Tennessee
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Other Subject: Digital Humanities, History, Journalism, Literacy, Varies Audience: All, Children and Families, Young Adult

Humanities Tennessee curated two major programs to honor the Pulitzer Prizes centennial. The first was a series of scholarly articles on Tennessee-related Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and works published on the council’s Chapter16.org site, an online journal about books, writers, and literary events that happen in Tennessee. The second was integrated into the council’s annual Southern Festival of the Book, which sees an approximate 25,000 visitors. Within the schedule of the festival, the council worked with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University to develop a special Pulitzer-themed track.


Between May and June 2016, the council published nine articles highlighting Tennessean Pulitzer Prize winners and solicited professional writers, scholars, and commentators to reflect upon the different Prize-winning works. These essays are now part of Chapter16.org’s permanent archive and can be accessed publicly online.

Articles included:

More than 2,000 readers subscribe to Chapter16.org’s weekly newsletter and another 500,000 receive articles from Chapter16.org through other newspaper subscriptions.


In collaboration with the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, the council developed “The Pulitzer Prize in the 21st Century,” a themed track at the Southern Festival of Books that included music and dramatic performances as well as discussions by and about Pulitzer-related books.

Highlights included:

  • “The Future of Nashville Media,” which featured Nashville’s media entrepreneur Bruce Dobie, Middle Tennessee State University College of Media and Entertainment President Ken Paulson, and Kelly Gilfillan, editor of hyperlocal community newspapers in Williamson County.
  • “The Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography: Images from Ferguson” with 2015 award winners Robert Cohen and David Carson
  • “Tempest Fantasy” by Paul Morevic performance featuring Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music faculty
  • “The Glass Menagerie” performance by regional theater company Studio Tenn.

According to the council, each event hosted between 100 and 250 people, with more than 25,000 visitors attending the festival.


  • Hall Strategies
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Vanderbilt University, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities


  • Mary Arno, Los Angeles Times team, Spot News Reporting (1995, 1993)
  • Robert Olen Butler, Fiction, (1993)
  • David Carson, Louis Dispatch team, Breaking News Photography (2015)
  • Robert Cohen, Breaking News Photography, Louis Dispatch (2005)
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, History (2009)
  • Chris Hamby, Investigative Reporting, Buzzfeed (2014)
  • Hank Klibanoff, History (2007)


  • Nashville, TN

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