Announcing the Winners of the

2022 Michael Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize and Multimedia Essay Prize

We are thrilled to announce and give our congratulations to the winners of our 2022 Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize and Multimedia Essay Prize! 

Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize: “The Rest Is History” by Peggy Shinner
Multimedia Essay Prize: “Out-of-Body” by Madeline Curtis

About Peggy Shinner’s “The Rest is History,” our Steinberg Memorial Essay judge, Mary Cappello, had this to say: 

“The Rest Is History” is a show-stopping essay, from its first paragraph to its last. Subjects intertwine, overlap and intersect while also maintaining their own crystalline distinctness and integrity. And what are these subjects? “Female sexuality conjoined with nuclear destruction,” the coincidence of the bikini and the atomic bomb. Capacious and unbelievable, tautly dramatic and unpredictable, the essay charts a series of displacements that the female body is made to cover and to bear. A study of the language used to justify destruction, “The Rest Is History” couldn’t be more timely. It makes luminous the essay’s capacity to yoke the personal with the collective, subsequently, to re-invent modes of address while addressing us all.”


Peggy Shinner

Peggy Shinner is the author of You Feel So Mortal / Essays on the Body (April 2014, University of Chicago Press). Her work has appeared in The Southern ReviewColorado ReviewThe Gettysburg ReviewDaedalusTriQuarterlyAnother Chicago MagazineAlaska Quarterly ReviewFourth Genre, and Bloom, and been anthologized in The Oldest We’ve Ever Been: Seven True Stories of Midlife Transitions (University of Arizona Press, 2008) and Her Face in the Mirror: Jewish Women on Mothers and Daughters (Beacon Press, 1995). She has been awarded two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, residencies at the Ucross and Ragdale Foundations, and a fellowship at Ausable Press. Currently, she teaches in the MFA program at Northwestern University. As a trained martial artist, she taught Seido karate for seventeen years. A life-long Chicagoan, she lives there with her partner, designer and book artist Ann Tyler.

Madeline Curtis’s “Out-of-Body” is the winner of our 2022 Multimedia Essay Prize. About “Out-of-Body,” our judge, Wayne Koestenbaum, had this to say: 

“In delicate and textured drawings and text fragments, “Out-of-Body” beautifully captures the feelings of absence associated with depersonalization; whether or not we, the readers, have ourselves experienced the furthest reaches of out-of-body sensation, we have all, as readers of Emily Dickinson and Samuel Beckett and other travelers into the lands of absence, felt the chill of non-being descend upon us, and we can thus recognize (and in a sense revere) the phenomenon. “Out-of-Body,” a text/image amalgam, renders these moods and departures as spooky and fabular; the images, like the cartoons of Roz Chast, give anomie and distress a sweetly off-kilter charm.”

Madeline Curtis

Madeline Haze Curtis’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Bellevue Literary ReviewCopper NickelWest Branch, and The Forge Literary Magazine, among other publications. She received the Louis Sudler Prize for Excellence in the Arts and was nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize. She holds a BA from Stanford University and is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Along with these magnificent, winning essays, we wish to honor the contest finalists:

2022 Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize Finalists: 
“A Craft Essay on Trauma” by Jocelyn Winn
“Watching Clotho” by Melissa Lauer
“Garden Hunter” by Joanne Jacobson
“The Jim Croce Question” by Michael Hess
“Velocity” by Marie Turner
“On Being Frog and Toad” by Amanda Giracca
“How to Be the Mother of a Dead Girl” by Eileen Vorbach Collins

2022 Multimedia Essay Prize Finalists: 
“What Can’t be Explained” by Jamey Temple
“Chthonic” by Daniel Oliveri


The winners and finalists of these prizes will be published in the Spring 2023 issue of Fourth Genre and on