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2004 Margaret Church MFS Memorial Prize
The Editors are pleased to announce the co-winners of the 2004 Margaret Church Memorial Prize for the best essay to appear in MFS. The Church Prize was established in 1984 in memory of Dr. Church, professor of English and comparative literature at Purdue University and a longtime editor of this journal.
Urmila Seshagiri, author of "Orienting Virginia Woolf: Race, Aesthetics, and Politics in To the Lighthouse," which appeared in volume 50, issue 1 (pages 58-84)
Jonathan Boulter, author of "Does Mourning Require a Subject? Samuel Beckett's Texts for Nothing," which appeared in volume 50, issue 2 (pages 332-50)
Special thanks to Marianne DeKoven (Rutgers University) for choosing this year's winners. In making her selection, Prof. DeKoven writes, "In their outstanding essays, Urmila Seshagiri and Jonathan Boulter both address issues of broad, urgent current concern within the crucible of detailed analysis of important literary texts. Both are wonderful writers; their essays are full of illuminating insight expressed in felicitous prose. Jonathan Boulter uses Samuel Beckett's Texts for Nothing to question the pervasive currency of analyses of trauma and mourning in contemporary literary studies. He asks a question crucial to modernist and postmodern literature, in which subjectivity is radically rewritten: 'To what extent do trauma and mourning require a subject?' In his brilliant close reading of Texts for Nothing, Boulter shows that Beckett simultaneously engages the tropes of trauma and mourning and also the evacuation of the subject. . . . Urmila Seshagiri focuses on a major Woolf text, To the Lighthouse, that, unlike Orlando and The Waves, has not as yet been central to current analyses of Woolf's complex relation to British imperialism. She demonstrates, through brilliant close readings of Woolf's use of the imagery of those quintessentially imperialist objects of British cultural cathexis, china and tea, and through highly original analysis that Woolf's ambivalent relation to imperialism is deeply embedded in the most central tropes of her greatest fiction."
Prof. Seshagiri, who teaches at the University of Tennessee, and Prof. Boulter, who teaches at St. Francis Xavier University, each received $150 and a copy of the award that appears here.