AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship

The 2020 AUHE Prize in Literary Scholarship Announced

Congratulations to Paul Sharrad, winner of the 2020 AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship for his study Thomas Keneally’s Career and the Literary Machine (Anthem Press). The judges commented:

Paul Sharrad’s Thomas Keneally’s Career and the Literary Machine is a highly engaging, deeply researched and richly sourced analysis of Keneally’s multi-faceted career and its shifting reception in Australia and abroad. As Sharrad suggests, Keneally actively courted both commercial and critical success that would test Australian readers’ fondness for ‘Our Tom’ and an understanding of what constitutes literary greatness. Working at the interface of celebrity studies, literary history and literary biography, Sharrad’s unpacking of Keneally’s career persuasively demonstrates that Bourdieu’s theories of the field and literary values cannot be wholly transposed to modern Australia. Sharrad reveals a complex and often contrary development of a writer and his reputation, not only troubling critical presumptions of connection or cohesion between textual output but also illuminating the other, more elusive sides of the literary machinery that shapes the way we value and use literature.

The judges also praised the extremely strong shortlist with the following comments:

Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver’s The Colonial Kangaroo Hunt (The Miegunyah Press) investigates the prominence of the kangaroo in the colonial imaginary and how its textual and material pursuit informed settler-colonial understandings of the animal, the country, and the Aboriginal people. Elegantly synthesising a wide range of written and visual material, Gelder and Weaver track the role of the kangaroo as novelty, as fulcrum to shifting settler-Aboriginal relations, as source of sport and amusement, and as Romantic trope of sympathy and melancholy. The study tracks how fiction (across all genres) and art navigated the importation of European hunting practices, making the kangaroo hunt a touchstone in understanding colonial erasure, education and economy.

Focusing on the under-explored millennial years, Emily Potter’s Writing Belonging at the Millennium: Notes from the Field on Settler-Colonial Place (Intellect) examines the role of the novel in navigating non-indigenous forms of belonging in Australia at the turn of the current century. Potter argues that literary texts were performatively active in shaping the ways in which non-indigenous Australians related to place and inhabited it. Potter suggests that their spatialized imaginaries both debate and trouble colonial logics and practices while providing a means for social and political alternatives to emerge. Potter further demonstrates how cultural anxieties and dissonances intersected in these novels with an awareness of the limits of narrative and its conventions. Potter impresses that stories alone cannot undo the damage of settler-colonialism or develop new conditions but that they remain important in acknowledging patterns of thought and the complicity of poetics, as well as contributing to unfolding a more sustainable and ethical future.

Locating Australian Literary Memory (Anthem Press) investigates how the commemoration of writers contributes to the mythos of Australian identity. Through place-based research and extensive archival work, Brigid Magner analyses the relationship between literary place and the real, discussing how Australian literary heritage has developed out of European models and cultural nationalism. Magner’s study is particularly important in demonstrating the role of communities of readers and literary organisations in sustaining the memory of Australian imaginary through material traces and monumental forms, and performatively through ritual. As Magner explores, this process is tied to the settler-colonial project and focused on quite narrow forms of legacy. Her study undertakes valuable groundwork to reconceptualise and decolonise cultural memory.

In Christina Stead and the Matter of America (Sydney University Press), Fiona Morrison argues that Stead’s American novels reveal her as one of the greatest political women writers of the mid-twentieth century. Despite the critical attention that has been paid to Stead off and on over the past forty years, Morrison’s monograph is the first to substantially focus on Stead’s engagement with the United States. While demonstrating how five of Stead’s major novels navigate the relationship between gendered experience and the modern economy, Morrison also examines a paradigmatic shift in Stead’s aesthetics from modernism to a reconceptualised social realism. Morrison also persuasively argues that through reading Stead’s work, we may better understand the broader transnational relationship between Australia and America, particularly in terms of gender and colonialism.

In J.M. Coetzee: Truth, Meaning, Fiction (Bloomsbury Academic), Anthony Uhlmann posits that Coetzee’s works can be viewed as a series of philosophical provocations and that Coetzee’s method might itself best be understood as a provocation, in that it leads to thought, insight, or gestures towards that which is otherwise excluded. Uhlmann unpack Coetzee’s understanding of fiction as a means to truth but also how there may be fictions of the truth, with the very telling of the story creating truths. Uhlmann also considers Coetzee’s exploration of creative intuition. Carefully reading Coetzee’s approach against major philosophical approaches to knowledge and form, Uhlmann tracks the development of Coetzee’s writing methodology from the days of his dissertation and engagement with Beckett’s archive. He then journeys through Coetzee’s oeuvre to analyse the author’s methodology in action.

The judges also commended Joseph Cummins for The ‘Imagined Sound’ of Australian Literature and Music (Anthem Press). With a great deal of interdisciplinary innovation, this monograph analyses the soundscape of post-World War II literature and music. Cummins persuasively demonstrates the role of sound in creating resonances within geo-imaginaries while also considering the diversity of sound and forms of listening.

 

2020 AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship now open!

The Australian Universities Heads of English (AUHE) is calling for nominations for the AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship, which will be awarded to the best book of literary scholarship published by an Australian-based author between 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020.

Works eligible for the prize include single-author or co-written monographs, multi-authored books including edited collections, reference works, born-digital works equivalent to printed books, bibliographic works of substance and other forms of equivalent scholarly production. All forms of literary scholarship are acceptable, including critical, theoretical, empirical, historical, textual and so on. Interdisciplinary scholarship is not precluded though a work must engage with what is understood as books and writing in whatever form.

The prize is decided by a panel of members nominated by the AUHE executive. The judges this year are: Ann Vickery, Robert Clarke, and Guy Davidson. The winner will be announced at the time of the AUHE AGM.

Please forward all nominations to the Chair of the judging panel, Ann Vickery. (ann.vickery@deakin.edu.au) by 5pm, 10th July 2019.

Nominators should supply or ensure access to three copies of the nominated text. Either hard or electronic copies are acceptable, with electronic copies preferred. Authors may self-nominate. If nominating a book you have not authored, please contact the author of the text you are nominating to avoid duplicate entries. Publishers may also nominate books. For any queries, please email the Chair of the judging panel.

 

2019 AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship Announced

Congratulations to Guy Davidson, winner of the 2019 AUHE prize for literary scholarship for his study Categorically Famous: Literary Celebrity and Sexual Liberation in 1960s America (Stanford University Press).

The judges commented: “In his deep study of the careers and work of James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, and Gore Vidal, Guy Davidson demonstrates how their negotiation of literary celebrity was integrally tied to their sexual identity, something that was part of enabling a new openness about homosexuality in the 1960s. By leading a paradigmatic shift in the understanding of sexual identities, all three, Davidson argues, generated a proto-visibility that would test mechanisms of social control and set an example for broader liberation. Davidson also challenges current understandings of the intersection between public and private in celebrity studies through analysing the limits around sexual disclosure in the 1960s. Breaking with the orthodoxy that posits sexual identity categories as only ever coercive, Davidson boldly argues for their critical and political value. Carefully and elegantly written, immaculately researched, and highly accessible, Categorically Famous makes an important contribution to a number of new interdisciplinary fields while always staying attentive to the role of literature in reconceptualising the social.”

Shortlist

 

Chris Danta, Animal Fables after Darwin: Literature, Speciesism, and Metaphor Animal Fables after Darwin offers a series of close readings of modern literary responses to fables and the fabulous, focusing in particular on the role of metaphor. It uses the ideological and aesthetic differences between texts to reveal a gulf between understandings of animal experience and potential “before” and “after” Darwin. Danta argues persuasively that the fable has an important role to play as a vehicle for the critique of transcendence and a reconsideration of the human’s biological context. Animal Fables after Darwin is extremely approachable without in any way detracting from the sophistication of its argument.

Alys Moody, The Art of Hunger: Aesthetic Autonomy and the Afterlives of Modernism

In The Art of Hunger, Alys Moody deftly combines aesthetic theory, thick historical description, and close literary analysis to argue that key modernist and late modernist writers were drawn to representing hunger for its capacity both to embody some of modernity’s deep-lying contradictions and to explore the limits of liberatory claims that often attach to aesthetic autonomy. For Moody, the ‘art of hunger’ cannot pretend to solve hunger, but it can help us to understand the existential crisis that artistic practice confronts in the face of avoidable starvation.

 

Simone Murray, The Digital Literary Sphere: Reading, Writing, and Selling Books in the Internet Era

Simone Murray’s The Digital Literary Sphere is a much-needed study of the way online spaces of literary reception have expanded, remediated, and redefined literary tastes and markets. It lays out clearly how this domain has largely gone untheorised before developing a sophisticated and comprehensive conceptual model for analysing it. This is then deployed to great effect in a series of wide-ranging studies that themselves present a model for further scholarship in this field.

 

Brigid Rooney, Suburban Space, the Novel and Australian Modernity              

Suburban Space, the Novel and Australian Modernity is a highly absorbing investigation into the role of the novel in mediating urbanisation and the everyday. Through rich contextual framing and elegant close textual analysis, Rooney considers how engagements with Australian and global modernities were channelled through a suburban imaginary and the layered affective registers associated with the domestic environment. Engaging with mobile and new subjectivities, transformative technologies, and Indigenous perspectives, Suburban Space provides a new understanding of the significance of fictional narrative in Australian self-fashioning.

 

Commended

The judges would also like to commend the exemplary care taken by Elizabeth Pender and Cathryn Setz in producing their beautiful edited volume Shattered Objects: Djuna Barnes’s Modernism.

 

AUHE would like to thank the chair of the judging panel, Ann Vickery, along with her fellow judges, Ben Etherington and Tom Clark, for their efforts in judging the 2019 prize.

 


 

2018 Shortlist Announced

We are very proud to announce the shortlist for the 2018 AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship.

The prize is awarded to the best book of literary scholarship published by an Australian based author in the previous twelve months.

For 2017-2018, the short list, in alphabetical order, is:

Katherine Bode, A World of Fiction: Digital Collections and the Future of Literary History.

Donna Lee Brien and Quinn Eades, ed. Offshoot: Contemporary Life Writing Methodologies and Practice

David Carter and Roger Osborne, Australian Books and Authors in the American Marketplace 1840s-1940s

Ben Etherington, Literary Primitivism

Julian Murphet, Faulkner’s Media Romance

 


 

Inaugural AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship Announced

Congratulations to Elizabeth McMahon, winner of the inaugural AUHE prize for literary scholarship for her study Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination. The award was announced at the AUHE annual meeting on 1 December with congratulations to all of the short-listed authors and excitement about the quality of scholarship exhibited in this new award.

The judges’ praise was unstinting: “Through meticulous scholarship, Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination forges clear connections between pressing issues facing island cultures (such as climate change) and the island as a singular literary figure that both defines and transcends Australian national identity.” In particular, “[t]he history of literary imaginings of ‘the island continent’ are shown to speak meaningfully to contemporary social problems.”

Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination is published in the Anthem Press Studies in Australian Literature and Culture series and is available here: http://www.anthempress.com/islands-identity-and-the-literary-imagination-hb

The judges noted too that because of the quality of submissions they found it hard to separate entries, particularly the first two titles ranked. So they have also commended Tony Hughes-D’Aeth’s Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (University of Western Australia Press). It is described as a study that “responds critically to ideas of vastness, loneliness, aridity, and economic opportunity with answers that modulate as subtly as the writers and their works vary.”  Like Nothing on this Earth is available here:  https://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/like-nothing-on-this-earth-a-literary-history-of-the-wheatbelt.  Congratulations to Tony and to UWA Press!

Read the speech given  chair of the judging panel, Associate Professor Guy Davidson, here: Speech_AUHE Prize

 

2017 Shortlist Announced

We are very proud to announce the shortlist for the inaugural AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship.

The prize is awarded to the best book of literary scholarship published by an Australian based author in the previous twelve months.

For 2016-2017, the short list, in alphabetical order and including judge’s citations, is:

  1. Jessica Gildersleeve, Christos Tsiolkas: The Utopian Vision (Cambria Press)

In a new reading of the significance of one of Australia’s most provocative writers, Christos Tsiolkas: The Utopian Vision artfully articulates the role of affect, redemption, and reparation in Tsiolkas’ oeuvre. Through skilled reading of the ethical and the affective (desire, grief, disgust, shame, forgiveness, fortune, tolerance, and cultivation) Gildersleeve demonstrates the deep connections between art and politics in Tsiolkas’ writing.  A work of exemplary scholarship and innovation, The Utopian Vision argues that “utopia” in Tsiolkas’ fiction is a reaching toward collective good and a refusal of both a particularly Australian toxic naivety and an apathetic acceptance of injustice.

2. Tony Hughes D-Aeth, Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (UWA Publishing)

As otherworldly as its title implies, this is a study of the Western Australian wheatbelt, which engages with “the most obvious visible sign from space of humans’ effect on the planet” via detailed readings of the work of several twentieth-century writers, including A.B. Facey, Dorothy Hewett, Jack Davis, Elizabeth Jolley, and John Kinsella. This study is deeply informed by the of phenomenology time and space, and deeply immersed in the poetics that successive cultures have produced within the time and space of the wheatbelt. It responds critically to ideas of vastness, loneliness, aridity, and economic opportunity with answers that modulate as subtly as the writers and their works vary.

3. Elizabeth McMahon, Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination (Anthem Press)

McMahon presents an innovative argument about the paradoxes presented by islands in the literary and cultural imagination. Through meticulous scholarship, Islands, Identity and the Literary Imagination forges clear connections between pressing issues facing island cultures (such as such as climate change) and the island as a singular literary figure that both defines and transcends Australian national identity.  McMahon artfully combines astute textual analysis with the disciplines of island studies and cultural geography to expose the tensions and connections between real and imagined geographies. The history of literary imaginings of “the island continent” are shown to speak meaningfully to contemporary social problems.

4. Deborah Pike, The Subversive Art of Zelda Fitzgerald (University of Missouri Press)

This is a thoroughly immersive study of Zelda Fitzgerald, explored through her published writings and artworks, her diaries and correspondence, and the accounts of contemporaries. Fitzgerald is a central figure in the flourishing literary culture of 1920s New York. Pike shows how she carved out a distinctive creative outlook and persona in a world that was (and remains) mesmerised by her husband, F. Scott. This book pays intricate, critically meticulous attention to form and to nuance as it develops a fitting tribute to the life and contributions of Zelda Fitzgerald, positioning her as a central figure in the flourishing literary culture early twentieth-century America.

5. Sean Pryor, Poetry, Modernism and An Imperfect World (Cambridge University Press)

Beautifully written and intricately argued, this book deploys consummate close reading to make revelatory connections between the forms of poetry and the forms of the world. Pryor provides fresh readings of the canonical modernist poets, T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy, and Wallace Stevens, as well as providing persuasive arguments for the interest of the neglected poetry of Ford Maddox Ford and Joseph MacLeod. Focusing on a crucial period in the history of poetry—1914 to 1930—Pryor illuminates the ways in which these representative modernist writers elaborate an understanding of the modern world as fallen or failed through self-reflexive enactments of poetry’s own falls or failings.

6. Lorraine Sim, Ordinary Matters: Modernist Women’s Literature and Photography (Bloomsbury Academic)

Situated at the intersection of modernism studies and the study of everyday life, Ordinary Matters is a richly informed and arrestingly insightful study. Productively collocating the disparate work of writers Dorothy Richardson, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf, and photographers Helen Levitt, Dorothy Lange, Lee Miller, and Margaret Monck, Sim challenges Marxist and feminist critical traditions that see the quotidian as a problem to be overcome, compellingly demonstrating how these female authors and photographers found affective, political, and ethical value and import in ordinary experience.

Congratulations to Jessica, Tony, Liz, Deborah, Sean and Lorraine!

Thanks to our judging panel Guy Davidson (UOW), Tom Clark (VU) and Clare Archer-Lean (USC).

The winner of the inaugural prize will be announced at our AGM on 1 December at the University of Adelaide

 


Call for nominations – AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship

The call for nominations is now closed.

The Australian Universities Heads of English  (AUHE) is calling for nominations for the inaugural AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship, which will be awarded to the best book of literary scholarship published by an Australian-based author in the last twelve months.

Works eligible for the prize include single-author or co-written monographs, multi-authored books including edited collections, reference works, born-digital works equivalent to printed books, bibliographic works of substance and other forms of equivalent scholarly production. All forms of literary scholarship are acceptable, including critical, theoretical, empirical, historical, textual and so on. Interdisciplinary scholarship is not precluded though a work must engage with what is understood as books and writing in whatever form.

Nominated books need to have been published between July 2016 and July 2017.

The prize is decided by a panel of members nominated by the AUHE executive. The winner will be announced at the time of the AUHE AGM, usually in late November or early December.

Please forward all nominations to the Chair of the judging panel, Associate Professor Guy Davidson (guy@uow.edu.au) by 5pm, 30 July 2017. Nominators should supply or ensure access to three copies of the nominated text. Either hard or electronic copies are acceptable, with electronic copies preferred. Authors may self-nominate. If nominating a book you have not authored, please contact the author of the text you are nominating to avoid duplicate entries. Publishers may also nominate books.

For any queries, please email the Chair of the judging panel.