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Max Lawton CC’16 wins prestigious Clarendon Scholarship

Monday, April 18, 2016

Max Lawton CC’16, a Russian Literature and Culture major who was raised in Brussels, Chicago and Milwaukee, has received the prestigious Clarendon Scholarship from the University of Oxford to pursue a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Modern Languages, where he will focus on Russian literature.

Max Lawton CC’16“To be awarded a Clarendon Scholarship for an MSt is a particularly laudable achievement,” said Scott Carpenter, associate dean of global education and fellowships. “Studying Russian literature at the graduate level at Oxford is a fantastic opportunity for Max and we are pleased that the Clarendon Scholarship will enable him to do so. His achievement in winning the Clarendon is affirmation of his academic strength and his capacity for contributing to the intellectual dialogue in his chosen field.”

Lawton, a John Jay Scholar and a member of the Columbia Heavyweight Rowing team, has previously received funding through the Harriman Summer Language Study Fellowship. He is fluent in Russian, French and Spanish and was awarded third place in the American Council of Teachers’ annual National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest in 2013. He is also working closely with acclaimed Russian director Slava Ross on the English version of one of his screenplays.

“Max Lawton has excelled as a student of Russian language, literature and culture, while pursuing a range of other interests here at Columbia. He started his Russian here from scratch and has achieved a high level of proficiency,” said Liza Knapp, associate professor of Slavic languages. “He has made his way through the classics of Russian literature and fixed his interest on the work of Vladimir Sorokin, one of today’s Russia’s most dazzling and demanding writers. It’s terrific that he will continue the fine work begun here.”

Clarendon scholars are selected based on academic criteria by experts in each student’s field. Most Clarendon scholars are pursuing doctorate degrees. The Scholarship will cover all of Lawton’s tuition and college fees, and will include a generous grant for living expenses. Additionally, Lawton and his fellow scholars will profit from the Clarendon Scholars’ Association, a unique community of scholars that provides a supportive environment in which to present research. The Association also offers opportunities to take day trips to places of historical or cultural interest or to take part in group outings to the theatre, opera, ballet and classical concerts.

Following the two-year program, Lawton hopes to pursue a PhD and to begin translating works of Russian literature in a professional capacity.

“Receiving the Clarendon is an absolute honor. I want to be a teacher and translator of Russian literature and studying at Oxford is the ideal next step,” Lawton said. “I am extremely excited to be studying under Professor Andrew Kahn whose writings on Pushkin have already been a great influence on my own readings of the poet, and am so grateful to all of my professors here at Columbia for pushing me in my studies and showing me what a wonderful and rewarding challenge a career in academia can be. ”

In high school, Lawton and his brother Ben cofounded Technology Through the Ages, a public service organization that helps residents of assisted living communities in Milwaukee stay in better touch with their families using the internet. He has also worked at RaisedBy.Us, a nonprofit organization that enables employees of tech companies to pledge a portion of their paychecks to a charity of their choice.

Max is embarking on a terrific career as a student and translator of Russian literature,” Carpenter said. “We're excited to see what lies in store for this bright young scholar at Oxford and beyond.”