Kennel Wins Gwyn Prize

2020 Award Recipient

Maxwell Kennel
Maxwell Kennel is the 2020 Recipient of the Julian Gwyn Prize in Baptist and Anabaptist History and Thought

Maxwell Kennel has been awarded the 2020 Julian Gwyn Prize in Baptist and Anabaptist History and Thought for his article “Violence and the Romance of Community: Darkness and Enlightenment in Patrick Friesen’s The Shunning.”

The Gwyn Prize recognizes the best article approved for publication in a peer-reviewed journal by a doctoral- or masters-level student in the field of Baptist or Anabaptist history and thought. It is sponsored by the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies (ACBAS) and named in honour of Dr. Julian Gwyn, distinguished historian and former ACBAS member.

Kennel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University. His article, published in Literature & Theology in December 2019, interrogates the notion of community in the Mennonite experience, using a close reading of Patrick Friesen’s 1980 prose poem The Shunning. Kennel’s article raises questions about how the discourse of community can be used to discipline and coerce its members even while promising defense against social atomization.

According to Dr. Michael Dennis, chair of the award selection committee, “Kennel’s analysis provides an important meditation on the dangers inherent in religious traditions, social organizations, and ethnic traditions that celebrate the virtues of communal belonging while subjecting dissident members to sanctions that violate the norms of human dignity and equality.”

Kennel has published additional articles on various Mennonite topics as well as post-secular approaches to time and history. He stated, “It is an honor to be awarded this prize for my work on the paradoxical literary expressions of community in the Anabaptist and Mennonite traditions. I greatly appreciate the work of ACBAS and the support that the Julian Gwyn Prize shows for research into the complex history of dissent and nonconformity in and beyond the Radical Reformation.”

For more information about the Julian Gwyn Prize and the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies, visit