The Modern Language Association Announces the Winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize

Joshua Bennett, professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, was named the winner of the twentieth annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of African American literature or culture. The William Sanders Scarborough Prize was established in 2001 and named for the first African American member of the Modern Language Association.

Professor Bennett is being honored for his book Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man (Harvard University Press, 2020)

The citation accompanying the award reads: “Brilliant in its approach and gorgeous in its prose, Joshua Bennett’s Being Property Once Myself employs conceptual frames from ecological criticism and animal studies to recast and reinterpret the African American literary imagination. His treatments of key figures from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries show the power of these interpretative frames by breathing new life into texts by well-known figures like Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Robert Hayden, and Toni Morrison, as well as opening new dimensions in works by contemporary writers such as Jesmyn Ward. What emerges from this approach is a creative, elegant, and compelling study of the intersections among ecology, the human animal, and the nonhuman animal as sites of thinking. Bennett offers innovative readings and a refreshing model for literary and cultural criticism.”

Professor Bennett is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He earned a master’s degree in theatre and performance studies from the University of Warwick in England, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University.


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