Newswise — Michal Pawel Markowski, the Stefan and Lucy Hejna Family Chair in Polish Language and Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been awarded the 2011 Kazimierz Wyka Award for literary criticism and essay writing.

The annual award, established in 1980 by the city of Kraków, Poland, is a jury-conferred prize given to a leading critic or essayist for his or her last published book or for lifetime achievement. The award is named after the late Kazimierz Wyka, a noted Polish historian, literary critic and scholar.

Markowski, who is also professor and head of Slavic and Baltic languages and literatures, was honored during a formal event at Kraków City Hall last month for his entire catalog of critical work, as well as recent collections of Polish language essays "Sun, Possibility, Joy: Essays" (2010) and "Where Life Meets Literature" (2009).

Considered one of Poland's leading public intellectuals, Markowski has authored more than 150 essays and a dozen books covering modern Polish literature, French modernism, and modern literary theory and philosophy. Many of the publications have been translated into different languages.

Among Markowski's previous honors are the Polish Academy of Sciences' Alexander Brückner Award for best Polish scholar in the humanities, the Koscielscy Prize in literature for his essay writing. and the Polish Science Foundation's master grant for research. The latter supported his research project, "The Humanities After Deconstruction" and a related international conference.

He serves as artistic director of the annual Joseph Conrad International Literary Festival in Kraków and is an editorial board member of the journal Slavic Review.

Prior to being named to the Hejna chair at UIC, Markowski was director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and chairman of international Polish studies at Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

Markowski was formerly host of a program on TVP Kultura, a Polish public television channel dedicated to arts and culture, and a columnist for Tygodnik Powszechny, a Polish Roman Catholic weekly magazine.

UIC ranks among the nation's leading research universities and is Chicago's largest university with 27,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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