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MLA 2013: A pair of Scaglione Prizes

Larry F. Norman and Frédérique Aït-Touati (photograph by Alan Thomas)

Following the rush of scholarly meetings and conferences in the wake of the new year, belated congratulations are due to UCP authors Larry F. Norman and Frédérique Aït-Touati, for garnering the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prizes in French and Francophone studies and comparative literary studies (respectively), from the Modern Language Association. The Scaglione Prize is “awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in its field—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.”

Norman, professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and in the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago, was commended for The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France, cited by the prize committee as follows:

A deep interest in the view one culture holds of another animates The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France; Larry F. Norman lucidly examines the divide posited in seventeenth-century France between antiquity and modernity. The writers and thinkers who espoused connection to ancient culture were, paradoxically, those who divested themselves of unquestioned adherence to textual tradition; they argued not for the unassailable authority of the past, but rather for the enduring power of the literary. Their hearts and minds were moved across the ages; their tastes supposed tolerance for the foreign and the capacity to imagine and engage with the unfamiliar. Probing early modern reactions to the classical age, Norman’s compelling analysis highlights the value of art in bridging distance in human consciousness in any era.

Norman is the author of The Public Mirror: Molière and the Social Commerce of Depiction, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and editor of The Theatrical Baroque, distributed by UCP for the Smart Museum of Art.

Aït-Touati, teaching fellow in French at St. John’s College at the University of Oxford and associate professor at Sciences Po Paris, earned the prize for Fictions of the Cosmos: Science and Literature in the Seventeenth Century (translated by Susan Emanuel), along with the following citation:

Frédérique Aït-Touati’s Fictions of the Cosmos: Science and Literature in the
Seventeenth Century is a brilliant retelling of the history of fiction. Exploring
how the concept developed in concert and in tension with the cosmological
visions of such figures as Johannes Kepler, Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle,
Robert Hooke, and Christian Huygens, Aït-Touati shows us scientific literature in
constant negotiation with the possible and the probable, with imaginaries true and
false. She leads us to a novel and a poetics of fiction whose attitudes toward
accessibility, readability, and reality owe a great deal to fiction’s intense
seventeenth-century engagement with optical epistemologies. Fictions of the
Cosmos pairs careful, structural, and creative close readings with a real eye for
the spectacular and speculative connection and unfolds in lovely, crisp sentences,
making it a pleasure to read for its scholarly advances and its style.

Well-deserved congratulations to both authors for their wins!