MLA Awards First Book Prize to English Professor Dana Luciano
Washington, D.C.- The Modern Language Association (MLA) of America has awarded the 2008 Prize for a First Book to Georgetown English professor Dana Luciano, for "Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America" (New York University Press 2007).
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C.— The Modern Language Association ( MLA ) of America has awarded the 2008 Prize for a First Book to Georgetown English professor Dana Luciano, for “Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America” ( New York University Press 2007 ).
In “Arranging Grief,” Luciano, an associate professor of English, presents a new perspective on the history of sexuality by thinking through the connections between the body, time and attachment. She argues that the pronounced 19th-century attention to grief and mourning should be read as a response to cultural anxieties over various aspects of modernization, including the modernization of time itself.
“Dr. Luciano’s insightful and reflective scholarship is an impressive contribution to the analysis of American cultural attitudes toward grief in the 19th century,” says Chester Gillis, interim Georgetown College dean and professor of theology. “I congratulate Dr. Luciano on this well-deserved honor and look forward to her continued success.”
In the book, Luciano argues that the enticements of what nineteenth-century mourning manuals called the “luxury of grief” offered a means of resistance to a new order of time that was frequently described as mechanical and impersonal, precisely because the time of grief—the slow time of deep feeling—could be experienced ( and embraced ) as personal, human, intimate. Examining a wide range of nineteenth-century texts, including mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, speeches, poetry, and fiction by James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and others, Luciano shows how the “sacred time” associated with grief was also used as a means of intervening in questions facing the nation, such as slavery, war and Indian removal. Appeals to grief in anti-slavery writing, for example, sought to contrast the much-vaunted “progress” of the nation to the gaping wound created by the perpetuation of human bondage.
“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,” the MLA Committee on Honors and Awards wrote in a citation of the book. “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.”
The MLA Prize for a First Book was established in 1993 and is awarded annually for the first book-length publication of a member of the association, including: a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography.
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. Luciano will receive the prize of $1,000 and a certificate on Dec. 28 during the MLA’s annual convention in San Francisco.
Dana Luciano is an associate professor in the department of English at Georgetown University. She received her B.A. from Brown University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. She has been teaching at 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 19th-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 19th century, co-edited with Ivy Wilson, entitled “Unauthorized States.”
About the Modern Language Association The Modern Language Association, 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 association’s journal of literary scholarship, 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.
About Georgetown University Georgetown University is the oldest and largest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in Washington, DC, Doha, Qatar and around the world. For more information about Georgetown University, visit www.georgetown.edu.
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