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

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