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  • 2015 Margaret Church MFS Memorial Prize

The Editors are pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 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.

The winner for 2015 is Matthew Eatough, author of “Planning the Future: Scenario Planning, Infrastructural Time, and South African Fiction,” which appeared in volume 61, issue 4 (pages 690-714).

A special thanks to Peter Boxall (University of Sussex) for choosing this year’s winner. In making his selection, Professor Boxall writes,

Matthew Eatough’s essay “Planning the Future” brings together the emergence of scenario planning in South African government policy and the treatment of the future in recent South African fiction. Scenario planning, Eatough explains, is an attempt to overcome the difficulty of informing policy initiatives over longer time spans when our image of the future tends to be determined by the demands of the present. This is compelling scholarship, not only because the political context Eatough addresses offers such a powerful means of thinking about Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City but also because the essay suggests productive new directions in critical thinking. The attention to futural forms in this essay—the attempt to produce new ways of thinking about the “radical transition” between pasts and futures—meshes with the possibility that the essay itself is dedicated to the production of new critical forms. Eatough’s work on infrastructure, futurism, and “literary world systems” resonates with a broader movement in literary criticism dedicated to possible worlds, represented by critics such as Ian Baucom, Stephen Shapiro, and Nathan Hensley. Eatough’s essay is part of this movement and opens up a range of paradigm-shifting possibilities for thinking the future that draw on possible worlds theories, from Leibniz to Jameson, but also point toward the new horizons of literary thinking only now becoming discernable. To make these new possibilities thinkable while providing such a focused and thoughtfully researched reading of South African fiction and culture is an extraordinary achievement.

Matthew Eatough received $300 and a certificate, a copy of which appears here. [End Page iv]

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