The Modern Language Association of America announced its second annual Matei Calinescu Prize for a distinguished work of scholarship in twentieth- or twentieth-first-century literature and thought. The winner is Jed Rasula, Helen S. Lanier Distinguished Professor in the UGA department of English, for his book History of a Shiver: The Sublime Impudence of Modernism, published by Oxford University Press.
The Matei Calinescu Prize was established in 2016 in honor of Matei Calinescu, a Romanian poet and scholar who taught at Indiana University, Bloomington. The prize is one of eighteen awards that will be presented on 6 January 2018, during the association’s annual convention, to be held in New York City.
The committee’s citation for the winning book reads:
Breathtaking and beautifully written, Jed Rasula’s History of a Shiver: The Sublime Impudence of Modernism is a masterpiece of modernist criticism. Drawing on a vast archive of texts, paintings, scripts, scores, and historical anecdotes, Rasula traces the genealogies of modernism across the arts. One could imagine that the book is about music—and the references to composers Romantic, symbolist, Wagnerian would suggest as much—but it is just as much about the ways in which the modernist story vibrates, like all culture, consistently through and across the categories we derive to delimit it. The species modernism, Rasula writes, cannot “be generated from a single tissue sample.” The rich skein of texts and moments he explores serve as an exquisite demonstration of that argument; the modernism that emerges from his work is, like the work itself, a scintillating, dappled dream coat.
Rasula received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Rasula’s involvement in the poetry community goes back to the 1970s, as editor of Wch Way and author of Tabula Rasula. Subsequent poetry titles are Hot Wax; or, Psyche’s Drip and Giacometti’s Dog. He has coedited two large anthologies: Imagining Language, with Steve McCaffery, and Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity, with Tim Conley.
“This is certainly a welcome honor, but particularly special to me because it's named for Matei Calinescu, who was a Comparative Literature professor at Indiana University when I was there,” Rasula said. “Though I never had a class with him, when my wife and I met she was taking his class and I kept hearing great things about him. His book Faces of Modernity was published a few years later and it had a huge impact on me, and I've been returning to it for forty years (so few books about which that can be said!). So, it's just an honor to be associated with him.”
The Modern Language Association of America and its 24,000 members in 100 countries work to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature. Founded in 1883, the MLA provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy.
Congratulations Dr. Rasula on this extraordinary and distinguished achievement. The full MLA press release is available for download, here.