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ACLA 2016 Awards
The ACLA is thrilled to announce the winners of its 2016 Awards! A special thanks goes to the judges for each prize committee, for all of their hard work. Names, institutions and titles follow immediately below, with full citations appended later in the email. We’re lucky to have such fantastic work being done in our discipline at all levels!

Alexander Beecroft
Secretary-Treasurer, ACLA
 
1. Presidential Undergraduate Prize (best substantial essay written by an undergraduate)
 
Winner:
Rosie Williams, Duke University
Nominated by Erdag Goknar, Duke University
“Paradox of Innocence: Objects and Architecture and the Violence of Space”
 
2. Presidential Masters Prize (best thesis, report or substantial essay by a Master's student)
 
Winner:
Elizabeth Gray, Brown University
Nominated by Michelle Clayton, Brown University
“Dulcinéia Catadora: Cardboard Corporeality and Collective Art in Brazil”
 
3. Horst Frenz Prize (outstanding paper by a graduate student at the 2015 ACLA Annual Meeting)
 
Winner:
Amanda Mazur,
Princeton University
“Chamoiseau’s Literary Creolization: The Stylistic Potential of a Vernacular.”

Honorable Mention:
Meg Arenberg,
Indiana University
“The Disenchantment of the World: Intertextuality and Disillusionment in Euphrase Kezilahabi’s Nagona and Mzingile.”
 
4. A. Owen Aldridge Prize (annual paper competition for graduate students)

Winner:
The 2016 A. Owen Aldridge Prize is awarded to Laura Finch, a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, for her essay entitled “Globalizing Finance: Nostalgia, Desire, and the Market in Contemporary Shanghai.”
 
The Charles Bernheimer Prize (outstanding dissertation in comparative literature)
 
Winners:
This year’s Bernheimer Prize will be shared by Eugenia Kelbert of Yale University and Ramsey McGlazer of UC Berkeley.
 
Eugenia Kelbert, Acquiring a Second Literature: Patterns in Translingual Writing from Modernism to the Moderns
 
Ramsey McGlazer, Old Schools: Modernism, Pedagogy, and the Critique of Progress

6. Helen Tartar First Book Subvention Award (selection of ACLA members for subvention to support publication of first books)
 
Winners:
Sarah Dowling, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Washington Bothell
“Remote Intimacies: Multilingualism and the Poetics of Personhood”
 
Cedric Tolliver, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Houston
 “Of Vagabonds and Fellow Travelers: African Diaspora Literary Culture and the Cultural Cold War.”

Damon Young, Dept. of French and Film/Media, University of California, Berkeley
“Making Sex Public: Cinema, Sex, and the Social”
 
7. Harry Levin Prize (best first book in comparative literature)
Tamara T. Chin, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination
Harvard University Press (2014)
 
Jeffrey Sacks, Iterations of Loss: Mutilation and Aesthetic Form, al-Shidyaq to Darwish 
Fordham University Press (2015)
 
8. René Wellek Prize (best book in comparative literature):
 
Barry McCrea, Languages of the Night: Minor Languages and the Literary Imagination in Twentieth-Century Ireland and Europe (Yale University Press, 2015).

FULL CITATIONS:
 
1. Presidential Undergraduate Prize (best substantial essay written by an undergraduate)
 
Winner:
Rosie Williams, Duke University
Nominated by Erdag Goknar, Duke University
“Paradox of Innocence: Objects and Architecture and the Violence of Space”
 
The members of the ACLA Presidential Undergraduate Prize Committee unanimously agreed that your thesis is solidly theoretically grounded, well researched, ambitious, and that it offers a potential for a significant contribution to scholarship in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies.
 
Your ability to navigate discourses about space in literary and cultural texts demonstrates your focus on the important and timeless question of “innocence” in an original and ambitious manner. Your close reading of Ohran Pamuk’s work aligns well with your ability to transition to an awareness of the differences and paradoxes among what are considered real and imagined spaces and places. The sophistication with which you approach the theoretical work of Theodor Adorno, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel de Certeau (as well as others) helps to support your work on the difference between the concepts and fantasies of space, and the materialization of those ideals in the forms of archival representations in museums, theatres, and national ritualized recognitions of events and narratives. In all, your thesis is complex and offers a unique approach to the concept of paradox that you seek to articulate.
 
2. Presidential Masters Prize (best thesis, report or substantial essay by a Master's student)
 
Winner:
Elizabeth Gray, Brown University
Nominated by Michelle Clayton, Brown University
“Dulcinéia Catadora: Cardboard Corporeality and Collective Art in Brazil”
 
The members of the ACLA Presidential Master’s Prize Committee unanimously agreed that your thesis is original, innovative, and that your comparative approach to cultural, aesthetic, and political elements within the work of Dulcinéia Catadora offers a significant contribution to analyses of poetics and performance. Your theoretical and methodological approach is sophisticated and takes into account a complex history of work on both the politics of poetics and performance art, even while you maintain an awareness of cultural and temporal difference. Your research is thorough, and your examples of Catadora’s work, as well as its influence on the collective art movement are poignant. Furthermore, your ability to engage the economic, poetic, and performative registers at stake in the cartonera movement demonstrates your academic deftness and contributes an important argument to contemporary debates with Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies about poetics, identity, and the global economic crisis. Even while addressing larger cultural issues, your thesis also illustrates a close engagement with questions of authorial agency and the possibility of intentionality and commodification of the author / performer across different temporal moments and geographical spaces. We have confidence that your scholarship will make a significant impact on Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies.
 
3. Horst Frenz Prize (outstanding paper by a graduate student at the 2015 ACLA Annual Meeting)
 
Winner:
Amanda Mazur,
Princeton University
“Chamoiseau’s Literary Creolization: The Stylistic Potential of a Vernacular.”
 
A brilliant and lucid introduction to the practice and theory of Patrick Chamoiseu, a Martiniquean disciple of the theories of Edouard Glissant, who called for a polysemic polylingual medium of fiction, this essays illustrates Chamoiseu's practice of introducing Creole terms so that context and syntax narrow the meaning, and of reversing the hegemonic relationship of what Saussure called "parole" over "langue." A seminal essay.
The judges were particularly impressed by the careful attention in the paper to linguistic detail on the one hand and to the much broader implications she draws from those details on the other. She builds compelling conclusions about creole, dominant (or standard) language and power reversals. This is a wonderful combination of close reading and broad thinking that makes literary analysis useful in our contemporary world. It reveals what literature can do with language itself to create a political rethinking.
 
Honorable Mention:
Meg Arenberg,
Indiana University
“The Disenchantment of the World: Intertextuality and Disillusionment in Euphrase Kezilahabi’s Nagona and Mzingile.”
 
The judges admired Meg Arenberg’s essay for attempting to generate a conversation among African writers responding to one another rather than between (or in addition to) African writers and European scholars. What is being parodied are largely earlier African texts that suggest a “final” and “African” truth. The comparative method is applied within Africa rather than between Africa and Europe —which we find a healthy move in Comparative Literature. African comparative work can take place among African writers and doesn’t need to anchor itself in Europe’s reading of the African.
 
4. A. Owen Aldridge Prize (annual paper competition for graduate students)
 
Winner:
The 2016 A. Owen Aldridge Prize is awarded to Laura Finch, a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, for her essay entitled “Globalizing Finance: Nostalgia, Desire, and the Market in Contemporary Shanghai.”
After opening with an epigraph from American writer Don Delillo’s 2003 Cosmopolis  and briefly reviewing the global range of sitings of contemporary finance novels, from Pakistan to Nigeria to Dubai, the essay takes up in depth Five Star Billionaire, a 2014 novel by Malaysian-British writer Tash Aw. Aw’s novel follows the fates of five different Malaysians as they make their way to, and their fortune or misfortune in, Shanghai. As she recounts the varied stories of these characters, Finch takes us on a wild ride through Chinese history, fashion, and the translation of Western finance fictions and self-help books into Chinese, among other things. This analysis is carried out within a framework of financial theory by Giovanni Arrighi and Fredric Jameson.
In a field of entries that was both numerous and of high quality, this essay stood out from among the crowd. One of the judges characterized Ms. Finch’s essay as “a brilliant analysis of Five Star Billionaire in the context of popular Western fictions of finance, drawing close attention to forms of time and providing new lenses for rethinking global markets.” Another judge adds that Ms. French has written a “fascinating, engaging, and well researched article on finance capitalism in a global context [that] effectively engages and questions the US-based framework of much scholarship in critical finance studies through the analysis of Five Star Billionaire.” We congratulate the author on her sophisticated and comparative approach to critical finance studies that has made this essay a worthy recipient of the 2016 Aldridge Prize.

5. The Charles Bernheimer Prize (outstanding dissertation in comparative literature)
 
Winners:
This year’s Bernheimer Prize will be shared by Eugenia Kelbert of Yale University and Ramsey McGlazer of UC Berkeley.
 
Eugenia Kelbert, Acquiring a Second Literature: Patterns in Translingual Writing from Modernism to the Moderns
 
What can the current “bilingual turn” in linguistics and psychology tell us about the nature of literary translingualism – the writing of poets, novelists, and dramatists who preferred to work in languages they acquired after puberty? Surprisingly a lot, suggests Eugenia Kelbert in her highly engaging and conceptually nuanced study of the diverse “translingual” styles of Joseph Brodsky, Romain Gary, Eugene Jolas, and other modernist writers.  Integrating empirical analysis with more traditional modes of critical reading, Kelbert illuminates the cognitive processes of “second literature acquisition” even while identifying European modernism as the moment at which these processes attained the form of a singular aesthetic. Kelbert writes that “the study of bilingualism relates to that of translingual literature rather as the study of wind may relate to that of landscape.”  It seems clear to its readers that this witty and ambitious dissertation is both the wind and the landscape of a new form of linguistic criticism.
 
Ramsey McGlazer, Old Schools: Modernism, Pedagogy, and the Critique of Progress
 
We know the name of the wind that causes all the wreckage in Walter Benjamin's picture of history.  It is blowing from paradise, but it is what we call progress.  Ramsay McGlazer's learned, lucid dissertation explores certain modern resistances to this wind.  They are surprising ones, and it takes all of McGlazer's considerable wit and sense of intellectual balance to keep their paradoxes alive.  How can he find 'radical potential' in seemingly retrograde gestures; show that 'outmoded forms become key resources for a modernist aesthetic production that they might appear to rule out'?  He does not deny the conventional modernizing claim that 'old- school' practices and principles can be 'deadening, mind-numbing'; but he does remind us the 'ongoing... forward march' can be 'oddly dusty'.  In the body of the dissertation he takes us carefully through a series of irresistible instances: the writings of Walter Pater, of Giovanni Pascoli, an impeccably pedantic episode of Joyce's Ulysses, and Pier Paolo Pasolini's film Salò.  He has a coda that shifts continents and looks at Glauber Rocha's film Claro.  Metaphorically McGlazer calls these moves 'returns to Rome', implicitly inverting the adage.  Not all roads lead there, but the ones that do alter the idea of the road.

6. Helen Tartar First Book Subvention Award (selection of ACLA members for subvention to support publication of first books)
 
Announced by ACLA publications committee chair, Yogita Goyal (UCLA)
 
Winners:
Sarah Dowling, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Washington Bothell
ACLA member for 5 years
“Remote Intimacies: Multilingualism and the Poetics of Personhood”
Sarah Dowling’s exploration of multilingualism in contemporary poetry helps explain how poetics intersects with issues of race and culture, offering a challenge to conventions of ethnic testimony or lyric individuality. She argues that the multilingual poets she explores defer personhood in order to reveal more complex histories and contexts of social violence.
 
Cedric Tolliver, Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Houston
ACLA member for 8 years
“Of Vagabonds and Fellow Travelers: African Diaspora Literary Culture and the Cultural Cold War.”
Tolliver’s transnational project engages with the works of Anglophone and Francophone intellectuals from the Caribbean, Europe and the US, and in his own words, refuses “to operate within the ideological enclosures erected by the superpowers, they became intellectual vagabonds, as disruptive and threatening during the Cold War as those masterless men who roamed the English countryside in the sixteenth-century.”
 
Damon Young, Dept. of French and Film/Media, University of California, Berkeley
ACLA member for 2 years
“Making Sex Public: Cinema, Sex, and the Social”
Under contract with Duke University Press
We found Young’s manuscript genuinely innovative and exciting, showcasing impressive interdisciplinary comparative work. We particularly like the argument that “this book argues that in post-‘50s French and US cinema, sexuality tends to take figural form less as an element to find individual psychology, a site of subjective profundity or truth—less, that is, as a problem of the subject and more as a problem of social form.”

7. Harry Levin Prize (best first book in comparative literature)
 
Tamara T. Chin, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination
Harvard University Press (2014)
In Savage Exchange, Tamara T. Chin’s combination of literary, political, and economic analysis sheds new and revealing light on the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). The book’s argument—that a wide range of new literary forms and practices arose in response to the expansion of Chinese power and markets—is carefully developed on the basis of a deep layer of original archival research. This admirable first book brings a bracing theoretical sophistication to the analysis of a wide range of cultural material: economic and political documents, diverse literary forms, and recently discovered visual material. It is interdisciplinary in the best sense and will no doubt serve as a model for new work in East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature.
 
Jeffrey Sacks, iterations of Loss: Mutilation and Aesthetic Form, al-Shidyaq to Darwish 
Fordham University Press (2015)
 
Jeffrey Sacks, in Iterations of Loss, offers a series of sensitive, evocative readings of Arabic and Arab Jewish texts from the nineteenth century to the present day. Each of these texts is part of the pre-history and history of the events of 1948 that the Palestinians call the “Calamity.” Drawing on Deconstruction and Critical Theory, Sacks builds a complicated image of the relations between language and temporality in the poetic marking of a series of devastating losses—ongoing violence and the displacement of peoples and cultures that is its result. The consonance between the tonality of Sacks’s writing and that of his six authors marks this as an important work of Trauerarbeit that work of mourning that characterizes so much of the literature and theory of the twentieth century — and thus opens a dialogue between the literatures of the West and the Middle East.

8. Rene Wellek Prize (best book overall in comparative literature)
 
Winner: This year’s René Wellek Prize is awarded to Barry McCrea, Languages of the Night: Minor Languages and the Literary Imagination in Twentieth-Century Ireland and Europe (Yale University Press, 2015).
 
This meticulously researched book, rendered in a haunting, lyrical style, juxtaposes a set of cases in which vanishing vernaculars inspired the linguistic strategies of literary modernism in the early twentieth century. On the basis of linguistic exegesis and close readings, Barry McCrea uncovers the longings of lost language inscribed in the poetry and prose of such modernists as Seán Ó Ríordáin, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce. In so doing, he illuminates the literary afterlife of languages that were disappearing at the peripheries of modern urban cultures, and for the first time, places them in comparative historical and cultural perspective. McCrea’s study eschews linguistic-anthropological analyses or language politics that might distinguish between the rise of highbrow literature in Irish (as language revival) and the selective use of non-standard language in Joyce, Proust, and Pasolini (as dialect writing). Instead he demonstrates, brilliantly, that these phenomena were motivated by a shared impulse to find beauty in vanishing vernaculars. An affirmation of the passion and moment of the local in the metropolitan, this comparatively slim volume will have large consequences for future research in comparative literature. It is beautifully written, imaginatively conceived, and methodologically a tour de force.
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