Dr. Dana Luciano Receives MLA Prize for a First Book

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The English Department at Georgetown offers its warmest congratulations to Dr. Dana Luciano, who has won the Modern Language Association’s Prize for a First Book for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America.

Please read below for MLA’s official announcement.

Modern Language Association Awards Prize for a First Book to Dana Luciano for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America; Matthew P. Brown and Martin K. Foys Receive Honorable Mentions

New York, NY—2 December 2008—The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its fifteenth annual Prize for a First Book to Dana Luciano, of Georgetown University, for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America, published by New York University Press. Receiving honorable mentions were Matthew P. Brown, of the University of Iowa, for The Pilgrim and the Bee: Reading Rituals and Book Culture in Early New England, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, and Martin K. Foys, of Hood College, for Virtually Anglo-Saxon: Old Media, New Media, and Early Medieval Studies in the Late Age of Print, published by the University Press of Florida.

The MLA Prize for a First Book was established in 1993. It is awarded annually for the first book-length publication of a member of the association: a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography. Luciano will receive $1,000 and a certificate, and Brown and Foys will each receive a certificate.

The Prize for a First Book is one of sixteen awards that will be presented on 28 December 2008 during the association’s annual convention, held this year in San Francisco. The members of the selection committee were Mary Baine Campbell (Brandeis Univ.); Jody Greene (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz); Michael Lucey (Univ. of California, Berkeley), chair; Priscilla Walton (Carleton Univ.); and Raymond L. Williams (Univ. of California, Riverside). The committee’s citation for Luciano’s book reads:

Dana Luciano’s Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America is a demanding and inventive consideration of how grief was imagined and experienced and the purposes for which it could be deployed, in different mid-nineteenth-century cultural contexts. Exploring a remarkable range of materials, Luciano details the relation of grief to many other issues, including war and slavery, sexuality and gender, and the experience of the nation. Her critique of ways of arranging grief that harbor an impulse to be done with it once and for all or an impulse to monumentalize it in the service of exclusionary social goals and her advocacy of arrangements through which grief might enable a move “toward the necessary reinvention of forms of connection and belonging” are especially compelling.

Dana Luciano is an associate professor in the Department of English at Georgetown University. She received her BA from Brown University and her MA and PhD from Cornell University. She has been affiliated with Georgetown University since 2004 and was previously affiliated with Hamilton College. Her articles have appeared in publications such as GLQ, Arizona Quarterly, and American Literature as well as in numerous edited volumes. She received honorable mention in the competition for the Crompton-Noll Award for her article “Coming Around Again: The Queer Momentum of Far From Heaven.” Her current projects include a study of queer spectrality in nineteenth-century American culture entitled “Unfamiliar”; a collection of original essays on film and video entitled “Queer Textures of Attachment”; and a collection of new scholarship in American literary studies on the long nineteenth century, coedited with Ivy Wilson, entitled “Unauthorized States.”

Before the establishment of the MLA Prize for a First Book in 1993, members who were authors of first books were eligible, along with other members, to compete for the association’s James Russell Lowell Prize, established in 1969. Apart from its limitation to members’ first books, the Prize for a First Book follows the same criteria and definitions as the Lowell prize. Previous winners of the prize include Elaine Hadley (1996), Marc Redfield (1997), John Rogers (1997), Katie Trumpener (1998), Deidre Shauna Lynch (1999), Srinivas Aravamudan (2000), Patricia Cain (2001), Bruce W. Holsinger (2002), Paul Downes (2003), Priya Joshi (2003), Paul K. Saint-Amour (2004), Elizabeth S. Goodstein (2005), Virginia Jackson (2006), and Sean X. Goudie (2007). Honorable mentions have been presented to Ian Baucom (1999), Yopie Prins (2000), and Zhen Zhang (2006).

The MLA, the largest and one of the oldest American learned societies in the humanities (est. 1883), promotes the advancement of literary and linguistic studies. The 30,000 members of the association come from all fifty states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. PMLA, the flagship journal of the association, has published distinguished scholarly articles for over one hundred years. Approximately 9,500 members of the MLA and its allied and affiliate organizations attend the association’s annual convention each December. The MLA is a constituent of the American Council of Learned Societies and the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures.

The MLA Prize for a First Book is awarded under the auspices of the association’s Committee on Honors and Awards. Other awards sponsored by the committee are the William Riley Parker Prize; the James Russell Lowell Prize; the Howard R. Marraro Prize; the Kenneth W. Mildenberger Prize; the Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize; the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars; the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize; the Morton N. Cohen Award; the MLA Prizes for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition and for a Distinguished Bibliography; the Lois Roth Award; the William Sanders Scarborough Prize; the Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies; the MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies; and the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prizes for Comparative Literary Studies, for French and Francophone Studies, for Italian Studies, for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures, for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, for a Translation of a Literary Work, for a Translation of a Scholarly Study of Literature, and for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies.