Book Prize

2019 Book Prize Shortlist: Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection

The Modernist Studies Association has announced its short list for the 2019 MSA Book Prize for an Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection. One of these books will be presented as the award winner at our upcoming annual conference. We offer our congratulations to all of the finalists.

Ned Blackhawk and Isaiah Lorado Wilner, eds., Indigenous Visions: Rediscovering the World of Franz Boas (Yale UP, 2018)

Franz Boas has received considerable attention from scholars in recent decades, so his roles formulating the disciplinary methods of anthropology, countering pseudo-scientific racisms, and mentoring a highly diverse and influential group of intellectuals are well known. However, this extraordinarily well researched volume edited and introduced by Blackhawk and Wilner demonstrates that Boas’s work accomplished so much, in large part, because it emerged out of a remarkably broad assemblage of Indigenous collaborators and because it formulated agency rather than passivity regarding the knowledge production of colonized and dispossessed peoples. In viewing Boas as a globalist thinker through his engagements with Native peoples, the contributors to this volume pose ambitious, fresh insights regarding the implications of Boas’s work across disciplinary boundaries and geographic regions, including Europe, African, and Latin America. Far from a celebration of Boas, essays also point to many new lines of critique in his work, including his assessments of Indigenous peoples’ futures. Approaching Boas as a theorist, practitioner, and facilitator of globalist inquiry, this scrupulously researched, richly evidenced, lucidly written volume challenges existing views of the politics and poetics of anthropology in a timely, illuminating way for 21st century discussions of global, regional, and local cultures for a wide range of disciplines.

Elsa Högberg and Amy Bromley, eds. Sentencing Orlando: Virginia Woolf and the Morphology of the Modernist Sentence(Edinburgh University Press, 2019)

Focused on Woolf’s ludic Orlando– the first scholarly collection to feature Woolf’s tongue-in-cheek experiment with biography and love-letter to Vita Sackville West—Sentencing Orlando ventures into new methodological terrain, taking impetus from “the historical and subversive force” ascribed to the sentence in Woolf’s work. As Woolf notes in “Craftsmanship,” “Thus one sentence of the simplest kind rouses the imagination, the memory, the eye, and the ear – all combine in reading it.” The volume’s sixteen contributors engage Orlando at the level of the sentence, close reading the form and structure of Orlando’s “wild” sentences “in the wider context of modernist aesthetics.” Each essay takes a single sentence from Orlando as a point of departure. The volume’s pathfinding work is undertaken on the context of the aesthetic turn in modernist scholarship and what Marjorie Levinson calls “activist formalism” – seeking to “reinstate close reading both at the curricular center of our discipline” and emphasizing the pleasure of the text as a precondition to criticism. As the editors note, “Sentencing Orlando makes a case for pleasurable, critical explorations in form in modernist fiction that begin at the level of the sentence” and “propose(s) a creative model not only for research, but also for classroom engagements with literature – one that cultivates a slow, deep … immersive reading practice that our digital age persistently undermines.” Individual essays address topics such as lesbian eroticism, allusion, intertextual echoes, allegory, pastoral, narratology, spirituality, and colonial violence.

Heather Cass White, Ed. New Collected Poems: Marianne Moore (FSG, 2018)

Marianne Moore is one of the most important and innovative poets of the 20th c., but her idiosyncratic practices of revision and omission have made it difficult for scholars to organize and access a comprehensive collection of her groundbreaking work. Heather Cass White’s New Collected Poems finally provides us with such a collection, consisting of all of Moore’s poems as originally published followed by a lengthy essay detailing and discussing Moore’s later revisions and suppressions. Expertly annotated with notes by both Moore and White, and elegantly designed by FSG, New Collected Poems is the definitive edition of this remarkable poet’s work and therefore a necessary component of any library of modernist poetry. In restoring the original published versions of these poems alongside a chronicle of their later revision, New Collected Poems will spur new appreciation of and scholarship on this unique inimitable literary artist.

2019 MSA Book Prize for an Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection Committee
Loren Glass, University of Iowa (chair)


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 $600 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.

Nominate a book
Archive of previous winners

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