Congratulations, first, to the winners of the annual Donald Gray Prize!

Co-winner: George Behlmer's "Grave Doubts: Victorian Medicine, Moral Panic, and the Signs of Death" (Journal of British Studies 42.2)

Co-winner: Herbert F. Tucker's "Rossetti's Goblin Marketing: Sweet to Tongue and Sound to Eye" (Representations 82.1)

Honorable Mention: Nicholas Dames's "Trollope and the Career: Vocational Trajectories and the Management of Ambition" (Victorian Studies 45.2)

 

NAVSA is delighted to announce the winners of the Donald Gray Prize for the Best Essay published in the field of Victorian studies in the previous year. Named after Donald J. Gray, Culbertson Professor Emeritus in the English Department of Indiana University, the Donald Gray Prize is awarded to the best essay that appeared in print in journals from the previous calendar year on any topic related to the study of Victorian Britain. It carries with it an award of $1000. Essays are self-nominated and are also submitted by journal editors and members of the NAVSA Advisory Board.

The 2003 judging committee for the Gray Prize consisted of Professors James Eli Adams (English, Cornell), Antoinette Burton (History, Illinois), and Andrew Elfenbein (English, Minnesota). This dedicated group of scholars read many essays from a wide range of disciplines, and ultimately determined that the prize should be shared by two exceptional essays: George Behlmer's "Grave Doubts: Victorian Medicine, Moral Panic, and the Signs of Death" (Journal of British Studies 42.2) and Herbert F. Tucker's "Rossetti's Goblin Marketing: Sweet to Tongue and Sound to Eye" (Representations 82.1).

Our judges described Behlmer's article as "an incisive, densely-textured, yet wide-ranging analysis of late-Victorian anxieties about death, which deftly weaves together legal, social, and literary history as well as the history of medicine." Tucker's essay, they said, is "a dazzling reading of 'Goblin Market' in light of the world of Victorian advertising, which transfigures Rossetti's poem (and the vigorous critical tradition attending it) through its own keen eye and ear for both lyric form and critical style." For the Gray Prize Honorable Mention, they selected Nicholas Dames's "Trollope and the Career: Vocational Trajectories and the Management of Ambition" (Victorian Studies 45.2), which they found to be "a subtle, richly suggestive analysis of the career as a narrative structure and an idea of order in the novels of Trollope and in Victorian culture at large."

We are grateful to everyone who nominated an essay for the Gray Prize in 2003, and encourage all scholars publishing in the field of Victorian Studies to consider submitting work in future years. The deadline for submissions for 2004 will occur in May; please keep an eye out for further details, which will be sent to members by e-mail.

James Eli Adams presenting the first annual Donald Gray Prize for best essay in Victorian Studies published in the previous year.

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The Best Graduate Student Paper Presented at the Annual NAVSA Conference

Congratulations to the winners of the annual Graduate Student Paper Prize!

Winner: Heather Morton's "Swinburne and Wilde on Whitman: Transnational Canon and British Avant-Garde"

Honorable Mention: Sarah Rose Cole's "The Temple: Border Zone of Victorian Bachelorhood"

Honorable Mention: Kathleen O'Neill Sims's "'Old Gardens,' 'Fresh Flowers': The Dialectical Efflorescences of Morris and Burne-Jones's Holy Grail Tapestry Series"

The judges for the 2004 NAVSA prize were given the task of choosing the top paper delivered by a graduate student at the second annual NAVSA conference in Toronto, which was hosted by the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario and a number of nearby Ontario universities during the final days of October 2004.   Here's what our judges had to say about the submissions and the prize winners:

The judging panel was impressed not only with the high quality of the essays submitted, but also with their remarkable diversity, which we believe reflects both the state of Victorian studies and the wide range of papers on offer at the Toronto conference.   From work on Victorian science, ethics, law, business, linguistics, literature and theater, to discussions of book illustration, Chartist land plans, and Highland Deerstalking, the papers offer a snapshot of the future as it is emerging in the dissertation work of the next generation of Victorianists. The judges would like to commend the talented scholars who allowed us to read their work.

In this field of well-crafted entries, three essays particularly distinguished themselves: Heather Morton's "Swinburne and Wilde on Whitman: Transnational Canon and the British Avant-Garde," to which we have awarded the 2004 NAVSA prize; Sarah Rose Cole's "The Temple: Border Zone of Victorian Bachelorhood" (Honorable Mention); and Kathleen O'Neill Sims's "'Old Gardens,' 'Fresh Flowers': The Dialectical Efflorescences of Morris and Burne-Jones's Holy Grail Tapestry Series " (Honorable Mention).    Each of these essays demonstrates a precision of argument and fluidity of prose that the judges particularly appreciated, while each addresses the conference theme--"Victorian Frontiers"--in strikingly different ways.

Heather Morton's beautifully-written essay on Swinburne, Wilde, and Whitman treats a frontier that is both geographical, cultural, and political:   the watery gulf between Britain and America.   The essay makes a broad transatlantic argument about the development of "aesthetic democracy" under the different pressures of American and British romanticism and aestheticism while offering specific local examples that feel both necessary and compelling.   Her work is, in other words, broadly theorized but narrowly argued, with a keen attention to the relationship between politics and literary form.   In the best tradition of the conference paper, Morton makes a self-contained argument that gestures beyond itself to a larger project of great significance.

Sarah Rose Cole's lively essay takes us to a frontier within Victorian London itself: the Temple, liminal zone of Victorian masculinity and haven of bachelors.   In an essay that analyzes the history and symbolic geography of this space of masculine privilege, Cole locates a narrative of male development that both depends upon and helps produce the contours of the Victorian city.   Sharply written and paced, this essay about urban pleasures and dodges is a pleasure to read.

Kathleen O'Neill Sims approaches the Victorian frontier of collaborative work in a deft analysis of the Holy Grail tapestry series by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.   Providing a densely-argued close reading of this single yet multiple text, Sims opens up onto the larger questions of Morris' socialism and Burne-Jones's spiritualism, finding in both of these stances an attendant narrative framework and aesthetic ideology.  

Congratulations to all!

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