John Hunt Wins First Tom Brennan Prize for Excellence in Writing

Author: Karrie Fuller

On April 16, 2012, the English Department celebrated the inauguration of the Tom Brennan Prize for Excellence in Writing at the annual Ward-Phillips lectures with its winner, sophomore John Hunt. The prize is a $1,000 award for the best essay submitted among a pool of candidates taking the “Introduction to Literary Studies” course and nominated by their professors. According to the official description, “The purpose of the prize is to reward and celebrate the talent of a student who produces a piece of writing that the faculty believes is truly worthy of exaltation.”

Hunt was awarded the prize for his essay “Terrain as Narrative Lens in All the Pretty Horses” in which he argues, “landscape is utilized as a physical representation of the protagonist's transformation, behaving as an extension of his own consciousness, with which the bildungsroman format is in constant correspondence.” He chose this topic about a novel by his favorite author because he wanted to revisit a book he first encountered a few years ago in his AP English class. Terrain, he says, is a fascinating motif McCarthy employs in All the Pretty Horses as well as Blood Meridian. In addition to English, Hunt enjoys studying sociology and theology as useful springboards for reading and writing. Upon graduating, Hunt plans to become a novelist and possibly to “pursue work in the publication business.”

The prize was established in honor of Tom Brennan, a Notre Dame alum from the class of 1965. Tom, who characterized himself as a rhetorician, graduated as an English major and both published in and served as an editor of The Juggler during his time here. He went on to work for Standard Oil and the Cleveland Cavaliers as an advertising consultant, and eventually became a top marketing analyst and teacher of advertising courses. His friends and family remember him for his love of fiction, theater, and the government as well as his ability to find words appropriate for any situation.

The full text of Hunt’s essay can be accessed at