The Siegmund Freud Prize was founded in 1964 and is sponsored by the HEAG Südhessische Energy Corporation (HEAG Südhessische Energie AG). It is awarded by the German Academy for Language and Literature (Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung) to honor scholars who are able to write about complex themes in their fields of research in a manner that is accessible and engaging for a wide audience. Recipients of the award are chosen by a jury. According to this year’s jury, Dr. Neuwirth was awarded this year’s prize due to her “truly groundbreaking Koran research, written in a masterfully sensitive voice, which makes beautifully clear both the origins of the Islamic revelation and their embeddedness within the context of biblical and late ancient literature.” The amount of the endowment accompanying the prize was increased this year from 12,500 euros to 20,000 euros.
The Muhammad Nafi Tschelebi Award was founded in 1997 and is awarded by the Islamic Central Research Institute and Archive in Germany (Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland). It honors non-Muslim German and international scholars who stimulate interreligious dialogue regarding religion, tradition, and culture. The award is especially focused toward the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Its recipients are selected by a jury consisting of representatives from all three religions.
Dr. Neuwirth has been a faculty member at Freie Universität Berlin since 1991, following positions in Munich, Cairo, and Bamberg. She holds a doctorate from the University of Göttingen and a habilitation from Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. She holds honorary doctorates from the University of Bamberg and Yale University in Connecticut, U.S.A. In addition to the Koran and Koranic exegesis, her research interests include modern Levantine literature, Palestinian poetry, and Israeli-Palestinian conflict literature. Currently, Neuwirth directs Corpus Coranicum, a research project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities that documents the hand-written and oral traditions of the Koran for the purpose of developing greater cultural understanding for a Western audience.