John Zilcosky

John Zilcosky

Fellow: Awarded 2022
Field of Study: Literary Criticism

Competition: US & Canada

John Zilcosky is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, where he writes about modern European literature, psychoanalysis, the art of travel, and the history of sports. His books include Kafka’s Travels (winner of the MLA’s Scaglione Prize for best book in German Studies); Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey; Uncanny Encounters: Literature, Psychoanalysis, and the End of Alterity; The Allure of Sports in Western Culture; and The Language of Trauma. The Times Literary Supplement and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung have reviewed his work. Zilcosky has won fellowships from the Humboldt Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is honorary president of the International Comparative Literature Association’s Research Committee on Literary Theory, where he served as president, 2011-14. In 2017, the German government awarded him the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize for outstanding achievements in research.

He is presently writing a book about the cultural history of wrestling from Plato to Hulk Hogan. His hypothesis is that the ancient invention of wrestling – humankind’s oldest sport – was crucial to determining what makes us human, and in fact to the birth of civilization. This explains its continuing fascination for us today.

Photo Credit: Vasuki Shanmuganathan

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