2003 awards

Congratulations to the winners of Awards from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women for work published in 2002! The award-winning works are listed below.

The Awards were announced at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women on November 7, 2003.

Book Award:
This year’s award for the best book goes to Valerie Traub for The
Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England
(Cambridge University
Press, 2002).

Traub’s impressive study of early modern lesbianism requires her readers to rethink their understanding of female sexuality and its representation in the early modern period, “to unpack the logics of discourses and institutions which structure the possibility of knowledge” of female homoerotic desire. It covers a wide range of materials, including poetry, drama, medical and legal treatises, travel and popular literature, book engravings, paintings and other fine art. Careful not to impose modern ideas of lesbianism anachronistically onto an earlier time, Traub incisively identifies lesbianism’s possibilities and expression in England throughout the seventeenth-century. Her study is provocative and challenging, of great interest to scholars and students not only of English literature, but also of history, art history, medicine, feminist studies, and queer theory. This is a major book that marks a significant new stage in feminist criticism.

Essay or Article Award:
This year’s award for best article goes to Clare Haru Crowston, “The Queen and her ‘Minister of Fashion’: Gender, Credit and Politics in Pre-Revolutionary France,” Gender and History, Vol 14, No. 1, April 2002, 92-116.

This essay on Rose Bertin, the purveyor of fashion to Marie Antoinette, is written in a highly imaginative style and combines a range of historical interests, integrating cultural and economic issues touching gender in 18th century France. It is a multivaried essay which seeks to understand the intersection of cultural and economic exchange through women’s role in 18th century fashion and credit. It combines the preciseness of reviewing Bertin’s business records with techniques of image and reputation to sell goods and ultimately to receive payment. Crowston also places her character within the broader context of women as artisans and merchants who lived off the trade of elite women. It is written in a very engaging fashion, making it accessible to a wide readership. The committee felt that both the content and the novel approach of the author were exemplary.

Josephine Roberts Edition Prize:
This year’s Josephine Roberts edition prize goes to Virginia Beauchamp, Elizabeth Hageman, and Margaret Mikesell’s edition of Juan Luis Vives’s The Instruction of a Christen Woman (Illinois, 2002).

This is a substantial, scholarly edition of a work often cited by critics, but until recently largely unavailable in a critically edited format. In addition to providing an excellent introduction to Vives’ life and text, the edition is also sensitive to its larger context and the issues involved in Hyrde’s translation. In short, it is an outstanding edition, making available an important cultural text in early modern studies.

Translation or teaching edition award:
This year’s Translation or Teaching edition award goes to Joan DeJean’s edition of the Duchess De Montpessier’s Against Marriage: The Correspondence of La Grande Mademoiselle (University of Chicago Press, 2002).

This is a valuable, accessible edition which makes new materials available and which is commendable for its preservation of the manuscript’s original scribal features as being part of the narrative style of the writer. The committee would like to commend the whole series in which DeJean’s volume appears, the University of Chicago “The Other Voices in Early Modern Europe” for its general contribution to the field, making texts such as DeJean’s available in an affordable and accessible paperback format.

Graduate Student Conference Presentation Award:
This year’s award for best Graduate Student Conference Presentation goes to Margaret Reeves of the University of Toronto for her paper entitled “Running on ‘with public voice’: Inscribing the Political in Elizabeth Cary’s Edward II.”

Reeves’s paper looks at women’s speech as a form of political action. Her essay is confidently written and provides just the right amount of context for Cary’s History of Edward II and its satirization of the reign of King James I. The author’s mixture of historical and literary perspectives is quite effective. Particularly enjoyable is the fascinating discussion on court corruption which Reeves handles in an original way. Despite a growing body of work on Cary the author has eschewed the more well known Mariam and instead has developed a fresh new angle on Edward II.

No awards were given this year for the categories of Collaborative Project and Arts & Media Project.

Submitted by Amy Froide, Chair, Awards Committee, November 9, 2003.

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