Wallace Best, professor of religion and African American studies and associated faculty member in the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University, has received the 2018 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies. The annual award is given in four categories and honors books that affect decisively how religion is examined, understood, and interpreted.
Professor Best is being honored for his book Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem (New York University Press, 2017). The academy citation states: “Best recovers Langston Hughes’s poetry as religious texts and retrieves Hughes, long described in binary terms as atheist or agnostic, as a religious persona with a complicated relationship to both biblical antecedents and to contemporaneous African American Christianity in Harlem. … Informed by ethnography and cultural theory, ‘Langston’s Salvation’ is elegantly written and may well inspire a vigorous reclamation of Hughes as a canonical religious author.”
Dr. Best is the author of another book, Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952 (Princeton University Press, 2007). He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Northwestern University.