’Tis the season for award announcements and prize citations, and we’re delighted to announced several recent winners and acknowledge their achievements.
We begin with an award close to home: the Gordon J. Laing Prize, which is awarded annually by the University of Chicago Press (since 1963) to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction. This year, we honor Robert J. Richards for The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought.
The Tragic Sense of Life presents an intellectual biography of Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), one of Charles Darwin’s most ardent supporters and a divisive figure of his own. Richards rehabilitates Haeckel, providing the most accurate measure of his science and art yet written, as well as a moving account of Haeckel’s eventful life.
Matthew Jesse Jackson, author of The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes, was recently awarded the Dedalus Foundation’s 2011 Robert Motherwell Book Award for the outstanding publication in the history and criticism of modernism in the arts (including the visual arts, literature, music, and the performing arts). The award carries a prize of $20,000 and is named for Dedalus Foundation founder Robert Motherwell (1915-91), a leading Abstract Expressionist figure and a key spokesperson for that generation of American artists.
The Experimental Group examines the work of Ilya Kabakov —his iconoclastic installations, paintings, illustrations, and texts—which delicately experimented with such issues as history, mortality, and disappearance. Exemplifying a much larger narrative about the work of the artists who rose to prominence just as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate and encompassing most of the nonconformist art world that burst forth between the late 1950s and mid-1980s, Jackson’s narrative extends from the life and art of Kabakov to the multimedia undertakings of the Moscow Conceptual Circle, bringing into focus a forgotten avant garde that flourished in the shadow of the official Soviet art establishment.
The American Comparative Literature Association awarded Jahan Ramazani the 2011 Harry Levin Prize for A Transnational Poetics. The Levin Prize is awarded to an outstanding work of literary history or criticism that, in the spirit of comparative literature, engages with more than one national literature or with issues of literary study in general.
From the Levin Prize citation:
Jahan Ramazani, whose renown as a scholar of poetry is reflected in his editorship of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry as well as in his comparative studies of the modern elegy and postcolonial poetry, has produced in A Transnational Poetics a volume breathtaking in its global scope and critical incisiveness. The spectrum of issues and poets treated in this book is nothing short of stunning. Developing the study’s primary focus on the pervasive influences of transnationalism, Ramazani explores such topics as the effects of globalization on a range of modernist and contemporary poets; the ways in which stylistic devices serve to traverse geographic boundaries; the treatment of transnationalism in the poetry of mourning; the uses of Western modernism in exploring postcolonial hybridity; the response to technology and alienation by high modernist poets, poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and postcolonial poets; poetic reactions to decolonization on the part of both the colonizers and the colonized; and impressions of England in the eyes of black poets, both British and postcolonial, through the lens of African and Caribbean cultures. Ramazani illustrates these questions through the work of some thirty poets from the United States, the Caribbean, England, Ireland, Nigeria, Uganda, Hong Kong, and India.… Whether on the global or the textual plane, Jahan Ramazani’s combination of multicultural erudition, keen insight, and critical ingenuity renders this book a masterful resource that will be consulted for decades.
Another University of Chicago Press author, Adrian Piper, was commended as the Levin Prize first runner-up for Dreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age. Again, from the Prize citation:
Recalling Balzac’s famous observation about reading as a new addiction (“The European imagination feeds on the sensations that it demands from literature in the same way that the Turk demands dreams of opium”), Piper’s interdisciplinary study of the “Romantic bibliocosmos” straddles different facets of this Romantic bibliomania, from the shaping of new social practices and spaces centered around the organization of books, to the rise of new book-centered professions, and—especially—to the intermediality of Romantic book culture, whereby it engaged with a variety of non-book, non-print, and non-text practices.
And finally, several University of Chicago Press authors have been honored as 2011 Fellows in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:
Anna Kay Behrensmeyer, curator of vertebrate paleontology, research paleobiologist, Department of Paleobiology, Smithsonian Institution
Philip V. Bohlman, Mary Werkman Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College, University of Chicago
Yves Bonnefoy, poet; essayist; art historian; emeritus professor, Paris, France
Anthony S. Bryk, president, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford, California
Claude S. Fischer, professor of sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Franklin I. Gamwell, Shailer Mathews Distinguished Service Professor of Religious Ethics, the Philosophy of Religions, and Theology in the Divinity School, University of Chicago
Daniel E. Garber, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
Jonathan N. Katz, professor of social sciences and statistics, California Institute of Technology
Louis Menand, staff writer, the New Yorker; Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English and American Literature and Language, Harvard University
Thomas J. Sugrue, David Boies Professor of History and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
A round of congratulations to all of our acclaimed authors and their deserving works!