Boylston Prizes for Elocution 2016 - 4. 1. 16

The Final Round!

Sam Marks, playwright and Briggs-Copeland Lecturer on English, hosted the final round of the 2016 Boylston Prizes For Elocution, held on Wednesday, March 31st in Sever Hall. The Boylston Prizes for Elocution were established in 1817 by Ward Nicholas Boylston in honor of his uncle, Nicholas Boylston, who in 1772 established the Boylston Professorship of Rhetoric and Oratory, and are awarded “for the delivery of memorized selections from English, Greek, or Latin literature,” not to exceed five minutes in length.

Beginning with ten contestants in the preliminary round, which was held on March 23rd, the list was narrowed down to six undergraduates: John Iascone, Kevin Hilgartner, Sarah Mokh, Cherline Bazile, Matthew Barrieau, and Molly Roberts.

Order of Elocution:
John Iascone: Henry V, Act iv Sc iii
Kevin Hilgartner: “Mediation at Lagunitas” by Robert Hass
Sarah Mokh: Hamlet, Act iii Sc ii (excerpt)
Cherline Bazile: “Life is Fine” by Langston Hughes
Matthew Barrieau: Elizabeth Costello (excerpt) by J.M. Coetzee
Molly Roberts: “The Wasteland,” II. A Game of Chess, by T.S. Eliot



After all of the finalists delivered their selections, a panel of three judges (a lawyer, a member of the clergy, and a professor) met to choose the winners. Along with Marks, this year’s judges were:

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. Her forthcoming book, co-authored by Peter S. Onuf, is “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination.

Greg Epstein has served as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University since 2005. He works as the Executive Director of the Humanist Hub, a the first-ever center for humanist life on a US college or university campus. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe (HarperCollins 2009); and is currently completing his second book, tentatively titled The Godless Congregation (Simon & Schuster). A 2007 graduate of Harvard Divinity School (MTS), Greg received rabbinic ordination in 2005 from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Michigan and Jerusalem for 5 years.

First place was awarded to Matthew Barrieau for his delivery of an excerpt from Elizabeth Costello, and second place went to Cherline Bazile, who recited “Life is Fine” by Langston Hughes. Congratulations to all those who participated!

Videos coming soon!