His book examines the rise and fall of the concept of the great frontier as a symbol of American exceptionalism.

Greg Grandin ’92 earned a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction for his probing look at of the concept of the great American frontier, from the first years of westward expansion to its terminus at President Trump’s border wall, and with its decline, the loss of American exceptionalism and the rise to the surface of deeply rooted ills—social and economic inequality, xenophobia and racism, mounting violence, crime and punishment. Writes Grandin in The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America (MacMillan), “The frontier was a state of mind, a cultural zone, a sociological term of comparison, a type of society, an adjective, a noun, a national myth, a disciplining mechanism, an abstraction, and an aspiration.”

Grandin, who is also the author of Fordlandia a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, is a professor of history at Yale University.

Ben Lerner, a distinguished professor of English at Brooklyn College and 2015 MacArthur “genius” grant winner, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction for his acclaimed novel, The Topeka School, for which Lerner won a Los Angles Times Book Prize. The story, which explores the roots of white male rage, was already named one of the top ten books of 2019 by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post, with The New York Times calling it “a high-water mark in recent American fiction.”

Ocean Vuong ’12, a former student of Lerner’s recently earned acclaim for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, winning a Mark Twain American Voice Award. Vuong, a 2019 MacArthur “genius” grant winner, was also named to The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2019 list and featured in both The Washington Post and Time for his first novel, which was also nominated for the 2019 National Book Award and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Award.

Adding to the literary accolades earned by alumni and faculty, associate Professor of English Helen Phillips ’07 M.F.A. won a Guggenheim Fellowship on this spring for her novel, The Need, which was cited in Time’s Best of 2019 list and longlisted for the National Book Award.