First Book Award Citations 2017-18
It is a pleasure to present the two CAMWS First Book awards this year to Lauren Donovan Ginsberg (University of Cincinnati) for her book Staging Memory, Staging Strife. Empire and Civil War in the Octavia (Oxford University Press, 2016) and to J. Alison Rosenblitt (University of Oxford) for her book E. E. Cummings’ Modernism and the Classics (Oxford University Press, 2016).
The criteria for this award include excellent quality, wide significance within a scholarly domain, and demonstrated awareness of international trends. We are especially interested in books which shift the conversation substantially in the relevant field of research.
Committee members lauded Ginsberg’s book as a “compelling and beautifully written study” of intertextuality and cultural memory in the Octavia, which will surely have a broad impact on the scholarship of this play and its reception in the theatre world. The book “provides for the first time a full conceptual framework within which to approach the Octavia’s intertextuality.” One committee member praised Ginsberg’s “sensitive and meticulous” readings, while another noted that she “admirably and convincingly deals with the thorny issue of stagecraft.”
Rosenblitt’s book was commended as a “groundbreaking” and “innovative” work with “truly remarkable research,” which defines E. E. Cummings’ place within the Classical tradition and presents newly edited writings from the poet’s years at Harvard. According to one member of the committee, Rosenblitt “demonstrates a wide knowledge of Classical literature and gives particularly sensitive readings of his engagement with Vergil and Horace. Another member wrote that “Rosenblitt [builds] an overwhelming case that we should hear a streak of classical influence and adaptation throughout Cummings’ poetry.”