Leskov, Zimmerman Awarded Hofer Prize

Hofer Prize

Ilya Leskov, a graduate student in the Harvard Medical School MD-PhD program, accepts first prize in the Hofer Prize for Collecting from Hope Mayo, Philip Hofer Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts, on April 14. Second prize was awarded to Matthew Zimmerman, Class of 2009.

April 16, 2009 - Ilya Leskov's love affair with the city of Paris began with a map. As a child growing up in Moscow, Leskov read the work of writers like Dumas and Hugo, and often traced the exploits of his literary heroes across a map of the city he'd taped to the back of his front door. Earlier this month, Leskov's passion paid off - he was awarded first prize in the Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting on April 14.

Leskov, a graduate student in the Harvard Medical School MD-PhD program, and second prize winner Matthew Zimmerman, Class of 2009, received their awards earlier this month in a ceremony at Houghton Library. Named for Philip Hofer, '21, the awards are given annually to students whose collection of books or works of art fulfill "the traditions of breadth, coherence, and imagination" exemplified by the former Houghton curator.

Judges chose Leskov's collection of antique maps of Paris, which date from the 15th to the 19th century, for its "breadth and the careful detail with which he analyzed each map," said Hope Mayo, Philip Hofer Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts, and one of five judges who evaluated the entries.

Zimmerman "impressed the judges with the care with which he selected both the specific works and individual copies" included in his collection, "Faulkner, the Fugitives, and their Heirs: Twentieth Century Authors of the Tennessee Valley."

Though his love of Paris began early in life, Leskov said his collection of Paris maps didn't begin until much later - when he began setting up residence as a tutor in Lowell House. His desire for an original - not a reproduction - antique map of the city led him to the online auction site eBay. Within weeks, he'd bought two maps, one large enough to decorate an entire wall, and another barely larger than the palm of his hand.

Leskov was hooked, and, armed with a reference work that cataloged every map of Paris produced before 1800, he eventually assembled a collection of more than two dozen maps, covering a wide array of historical periods.

"The goal of this collection is to understand the evolution of the city of Paris and its representations, from the Renaissance to the modern times, so as to gain insight into the changing worldviews and values of the city's inhabitants and cartographers," he said.

Likewise, Zimmerman's passion for his subject started early in life - when he read Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" for the first time as a high school freshman. Spurred by the book, and living in southern middle Tennessee at the time, near both Sewanee and Nashville, where many Tennessee Valley authors lived, he began collecting from local bookstores.

"In particular, I've focused on the Fugitive poets of Nashville and the novels of Faulkner, as well as a couple of more contemporary authors from Knoxville who show the influence of those earlier authors," he said. "As a senior, it was a distinct pleasure to have time to apply for the Hofer Prize and devote some thought to the past and future of my collection."