Book Prize


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. Please visit our Nominations page to recommend a book for this year's prize or visit our archive to see previous winners.

2017 MSA Book Prize Winner (for a book published in 2015)

The Modernist Studies Association awards its Book Prize to Sam Bardaouil's Surrealism in Egypt: Modernism and the Art and Liberty Group (I.B. Taurus, 2016).

Surrealism in Egypt historically and critically recuperates the Art and Liberty surrealist group in World War II Egypt. While recovering this late modernist network, it leverages the contingencies and exigencies of the group to question deep set assumptions about center and periphery as well as the critical habits that assume totalizing narratives of imperialism and Orientalism. This approach buttresses and challenges narratives of decolonization and their inherently Eurocentric focus on imperial power – it instead asks how Egyptian Surrealism extended outward and demanded global changes. Bardaouil establishes the enormous scope of the Art and Liberty movement, reaching from Spain to Syria and Cairo to Paris, but also and most effectively recovers long neglected original art and archives. The ready movement between primary materials in Arabic, French, and English brings this cosmopolitan group into coherence and demands attention from the wider study of late modernism. The “exhibition” pattern, or comparatist approach, is skilfully handled and made accessible to readers from different disciplines. With its attachment to the Art et Liberté: Rupture, War and Surrealism in Egypt (1938–1948) exhibition, Surrealism in Egypt is a polemical yet persuasively readable promise, a promise to alter how modernist studies approaches the surrealist tradition.

View the Book Prize Shortlist

2017 MSA Book Prize Committee
James Gifford (chair), Fairleigh Dickinson University
Isabelle Keller-Privat, Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès
Roger Rothman, Bucknell University

2017 MSA Prize for a First Book Winner

The Modernist Studies Association awards its Prize for a First Book to Emily C. Bloom's The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Despite being distinct in terms of politics and aesthetics, W. B. Yeats, Louis MacNeice, Elizabeth Bowen and Samuel Beckett are bound together by their extensive engagement with the radio medium. In The Wireless Past, Emily Bloom examines how modern literature came to be shaped by this new medium, for which writers were encouraged to use interior monologues, first-person narration and an intimate mode of address. But Yeats, MacNeice, Bowen and Beckett also developed distinctive techniques for conceptualizing radio publics, as Bloom shows in each chapter. Yeats’s radio poetry evoked traditional spaces for oral poetry such as the Greek stage and then showed the impossibility of these spaces for modern poetics. MacNeice’s poetry and radio scripts highlighted the complexities of communication in wartime, as radio came to be used as a powerful propaganda tool but also as a way to connect people isolated by travel restrictions. The Wireless Past makes a significant contribution to the field of “radio modernism” – a field that has grown rapidly as a major research trend in modernist studies.

View the First Book Prize Shortlist

2017 MSA First Book Prize Committee
Josephine Park, chair (University of Pennsylvania)
Nell Andrew (The University of Georgia)
Lise Jaillant (Loughborough University)

2017 MSA Book Prize Winner for for an edition, anthology, or essay collection

The Modernist Studies Association awards its Book Prize for an edition, anthology or essay collection to Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue for The Poems of T.S. Eliot (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)

This major publication is a landmark in modernist scholarship and poetry editing, a superb critical edition of the poems establishing a new text of the Collected Poems 1909-1962, presenting Eliot’s uncollected verse (including love poems to his wife Valerie Eliot), Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the Anabase translation, bawdy verse; and, very importantly, a new reading text (or editorial composite) of the drafts of The Waste Land. Each of Eliot’s poems and major projects has its own full commentary, wonderfully comprehensive, imaginative in its range, scrupulously scholarly, and the two volumes close with a full textual history of the poems. The Waste Land alone has a 62-page commentary – which will change the way we read this key epochal text – and 56 pages of textual history. This is a nine-year project by the editors, magisterial in its range, depth and scope, and the finesse of the editorial policy and practice is matchless.

View the Book Prize Shortlist: Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection

2017 MSA Book Prize for an Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection Committee
Vassiliki Kolocotroni, University of Glasgow (chair)
Adam Piette, University of Sheffield
Sanja Bahun, University of Essex


Please visit our Nominations page to recommend a book for this year's prize.
Visit our archive to see previous winners.