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photo of Walton
(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

Audrey Walton recognized with John Charles Polanyi Prize in Literature

February 4, 2020

Audrey Walton has received the John Charles Polanyi Prize in Literature for her scholarship on sacred language, literary cultures, vernacularity and world religions, with particular focus on the early medieval period in England.

An assistant professor of English who is also at the Centre for Medieval Studies, Walton received the prize for her research showing that medieval England produced a large body of literature in the vernacular as opposed to Latin.

“We are all immensely proud of Audrey,” said Professor Paul Stevens, chair of the department of English. “Audrey joins five other members of the department in winning this prestigious award – Angela Esterhammer, Andrea Most, Katie Larson, Andrea Charise and most recently Danny Wright. It’s an outstanding group, remarkable for the rigour, originality and diversity of their research. Audrey’s work on the complex constitution of Anglo-Saxon textual culture is a revelation.”

The award is named after John Polanyi, a U of T University Professor of chemistry and joint winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. At a reception to honour the winners, Polanyi talked about the significance of Walton’s research on the vernacular. 

“With a new language came a new outlook,” Polanyi said. “They spoke to God as if he were one of them.”

Read the U of T News story