Each year, the Modernist Studies Association seeks nominations for its Book Prize, awarded to a book published in the previous year. A panel of judges determines the book that made the most significant contribution to modernist studies. The winner receives $1,000 plus up to $500 toward travel expenses to the MSA Conference, where the award is presented. A book first published in another year will not be eligible for the prize. This exclusion applies even if a new edition (paperback or revised, for example) was published in the award year.
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2012 MSA Book Prize
The Modernist Studies Association awards its 2012 Book Prize to Christopher GoGwilt's The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya (Oxford UP).
The Passage of Literature is a brilliant, erudite analysis of the linguistic emergence of a socio-cultural modernism in a transoceanic context, with exemplary instances drawn from Joseph Conrad, Jean Rhys, and Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer. We were as astonished to see how important this reconsideration is for Conrad and Rhys as we were persuaded of the crucial positioning of Pramoedya in and for this comparative context. Whereas other equally fascinating books considered for this award introduced us to more numerous arrays of less familiar writers and literary cultures, GoGwilt digs deeply into these three in order to enact a paradigm shift in modernist studies, turning attention from particular transatlantic or transpacific socio-cultural associations to a still broader and more carefully textured map of linguistically-based as well as cultural and literary affiliations around the globe. For GoGwilt, moreover, "literary and artistic modernism properly belongs within a history of decolonization." Rethinking the philological principles of such scholars as Erich Auerbach, Edward Said, and Raymond Williams, GoGwilt details a "post-colonial philology" that can better describe the imperatives shaping literary studies in the aftermath of decolonization. His extensive attention to language and text gives real heft to prior, more abstract efforts to see modernism in a "planetary" configuration. The book is an exemplary model for both classic and transnational modernist studies.
Anne Cheng. Second Skin: Josephine Baker and the Modern Surface (Oxford UP)
Ruth Hoberman. Museum Trouble: Edwardian Fiction and the Emergence of Modernism (U of Virginia Press)
Andrew Jones. Developmental Fairy Tales: Evolutionary Thinking and Modern Chinese Culture (Harvard U P)
Annalisa Zox-Weaver. Zox-Weaver. Women Modernists and Fascism (Cambridge UP)