Laqueur’s ‘The Work of the Dead’ wins two prizes

Representations editor Thomas Laqueur wins AHA’s Mosse Prize & McGill’s Cundill Prize for The Work of the Dead

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Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History at UC Berkeley, has been selected as the winner of the George L. Mosse Prize by the American Historical Association and the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature by McGill University. Both honors are in recognition of Laqueur’s book The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains (Princeton University Press, 2015).

Calling him a “modern Charon,” the Mosse Prize committee noted:

Laqueur’s haunting book brilliantly tackles a fundamental historical question: how humanity relates to the dead. His magisterial account establishes that throughout the premodern and modern periods, the world has never been disenchanted; the dead have always had agency in defining what it means to be human.

Laqueur will be awarded the Mosse Prize at the AHA’s 131st Annual Meeting in Denver, Jan. 5-8, 2017. In winning the Cundill Prize, Laqueur also receved an award of $75,000.

More on the Berkeley News blog

Algorithms in Culture events

In this undated photo made available by Google, Denise Harwood diagnoses an overheated computer processor at Google’s data center in The Dalles, Ore. Google uses these data centers to store email, photos, video, calendar entries and other information shared by its users. These centers also process the hundreds of millions of searches that Internet users make on Google each day. (AP Photo/Google, Connie Zhou)

(AP Photo/Google, Connie Zhou)

Supported by a joint grant from Representations and the Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley’s Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society presents a discussion on the topic of “Algorithms in Culture.” At this event, an interdisciplinary faculty working group will share their reflections about the place of algorithms in their disciplines and research. The discussion will take place on Friday, April 29, at 10:30am in 470 Stevens Hall, UC Berkeley. The event inaugurates an ongoing conversation that will be pursued further in a day-long workshop on May 13.

While algorithms are a foundational concept in computer science, there is increasing interest about the roles algorithms play in politics, media, science, organizations, and identity in everyday life. As algorithms become more prevalent and visible in contemporary life, issues around their development and deployment will continue to rise, both in academia and public discourse. In recent years, there has been a growing academic literature taking algorithms as an object of cultural inquiry, as well as many conferences and workshops focused on studying algorithms from a more social scientific or humanistic perspective. In response to this growing approach to algorithms as culture, this interdisciplinary group of scholars will take up algorithms as an object of study in order to examine them as computation, culture and their role in the construction of the self in this event to develop a special section of a journal that explores this topic.

Representations’ Stephen Greenblatt wins 2016 Holberg Prize

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Stephen Greenblatt, founding co-editor of Representations and John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, has been named the 2016 Holberg Prize Laureate. The prize, awarded annually by the Norwegian government, is given to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law or theology. Previous laureates include Julia Kristeva, Jürgen Habermas, Natalie Zemon Davis, Manuel Castells, Bruno Latour, and Marina Warner.

“His scholarship has had an immeasurable impact on the practices of literary studies, history and cultural criticism, well beyond his own field of expertise,” noted the Holberg Committee. “Greenblatt has provided us a vocabulary through which we can approach the task of understanding our times and its history. His work has been animated by the idea of life as art, and art as revealing something important about life.”

An award ceremony will take place in Bergen, Norway, in June 2016, to honor both Greenblatt as the Holberg Prize Laureate, and Nils Klim Prize laureate, Sanja Bogojević, Senior Lecturer at Lund University.

Breaking News! Yurchak Wins Russia’s Prosvetitel Prize

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Alexei Yurchak, whose Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation («Это было навсегда, пока не кончилось») has been awarded Russia’s prestigious 2015 Prosvetitel Prize. The English version of the book was published in 2006 and shortly thereafter won the Wayne Vucinic Book Award for best book of the year from the American Society for Eastern European, Eurasian, and Slavic Studies. The expanded version, rewritten by Yurchak in Russian and published last year, was one of four books nominated for the Prosvetitel Prize in the humanities.

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Yurchak accepts the Prosvetitel Prize in Moscow.

Yurchak’s much talked about “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty” appeared earlier this year in Representations 129.

Alexei Yurchak’s “Everything Was Forever …” Nominated for Russia’s Prosvetitel Prize

Jurchak_coverCongratulations to Representations editorial board member Alexei Yurchak, whose Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation («Это было навсегда, пока не кончилось») has been short-listed for Russia’s prestigious 2015 Prosvetitel Prize. Published in Russian last year, the book was first published in English in 2006, and shortly thereafter won the Wayne Vucinic Book Award for best book of the year from the American Society for Eastern European, Eurasian, and Slavic Studies.

Yurchak’s much talked about “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty” appeared earlier this year in Representations 129.

Representations essay awarded Donald Gray Prize

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Congratulations to Cannon Schmitt, Professor of English at the University of Toronto, who has received the Donald Gray Prize for best essay published in the field of Victorian Studies. The essay, “Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson,” appeared in “Denotatively, Technically, Literally,” a special issue of Representations 125 (Winter 2014).

Technical language in novels, rare in itself, is still more rarely interpreted. Focusing on Robert Louis Stevenson’s bildungsromans, in this essay Cannon Schmitt argues that a technical maritime lexicon marks their protagonists’ accession to maturity. But that lexicon and the love for the world it attests to and demands also forces a redefinition of what it means to be mature, offering an open, adventurous, never-to-be completed Bildung that refuses the stasis of marriage or a settled profession.

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“Progress of the Bell Rock Works,” engraving by William Miller, Figure ix, An Account of the Bell Rock Lighthouse by Robert Stevenson (Edinburgh and London, 1824)

The Donald Gray Prize is awarded annually by the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA). The prize has previously been awarded to other Representations articles, including Sue Zemka’s “The Death of Nancy ‘Sikes’” (2010), Sarah Winter’s “Darwin’s Saussure: Biosemiotics and Race in Expression” (2009), Andrew Miller’s “Lives Unled in Victorian Fiction” (2007), and Herbert Tucker’s “Rossetti’s Goblin Marketing: Sweet to Tongue and Sound to Eye” (2003).

Representations’ Beate Fricke receives ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Beate Fricke. Fricke and Finbarr Barry Flood (NYU) have been awarded an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship for their research project, Object Histories—Flotsam as Early Globalism.

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Fricke (associate professor in the History of Art Department at UC Berkeley) and Flood (William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities at New York University) have received a 2016-2017 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship. The program provides support to small teams of two or more scholars to collaborate on a single, substantive project.

 

In Object Histories—Flotsam as Early Globalism, Fricke and Flood draw from case studies in the medieval European and Islamic worlds to tackle methodological and theoretical issues of writing histories of flotsam, when the only source one has is a unique surviving artifact, image, or monument divorced from other documentation of its contexts. The authors describe the project as follows:

 

“The past decade has witnessed the proliferation of histories written on and from objects. This reflects a number of significant developments in the humanities, from increased attention to circulation, gifting, and the early history of commodities, to a renewed concern with materiality and the potential agency of material things. Historians of medieval art often face the challenge of writing histories for which unique artifacts, images, or monuments are the only available archives. In these cases, the object functions as its own archive, the absence of related written sources compelling the researcher to pursue compensatory lines of historical inquiry. But how does one choose where to start, which lines to trace, and which to ignore or neglect? The collaboration between Finbarr Flood and Beate Fricke considers such questions in relation to the writing of connected histories focused on medieval flotsam—artifacts or images that appear as unique survivals. It explores the pre-modern reception of such objects, their capacity to stimulate new artistic trends, and the methodological problems inherent in treating artifacts as archives to facilitate the writing of medieval histories in the present.”

 

For more information about Object Histories, visit the ACLS project site.

 

Representations’ Andrew Jones receives Guggenheim

Congratulations to Representations editorial board member Andrew F. Jones.

 

Jones, professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at UC Berkeley, has been awarded a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship. Jones was selected as one of 175 scholars, scientists, and artists across the United States and Canada who have shown “prior achievement and exceptional promise” in their work.

 

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At Berkeley, Jones teaches modern Chinese literature and media culture. His Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music (Cornell East Asia Series, 1992) was the first book-length study of the emergence of Chinese rock music in the years before and after the Tiananmen movement of 1989. Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age (Duke University Press, 2001) explored the cultural history of modern Chinese music, tracing its emergence from out of the complex musical and media topography of colonial Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. With the support of the Guggenheim foundation, he will complete a book entitled Circuit Listening: Chinese Popular Music in the Transistor Era, which will listen to the sonic history of the long global 1960s from the perspective of a place that is usually dismissed as marginal to the musical revolutions of those years. The book will attempt to write China back into the narrative of how we hear the explosion of new popular musics for which these years are famous; and by the same token, reinsert the “global” into our sometimes hermetic sense of Chinese cultural history in those years.

Hinterwaldner Essay Wins Schachterle Prize

Inge Hinterwaldner’s Parallel Lines as Tools for Making Turbulence Visible (Representations 124) has won the 2104 Schachterle Essay Prize from the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA).

“Building on actor-network theory and the history of photographic and cinematic technologies, Inge Hinterwaldner’s article is an elegant, smart, and meaningful contribution to scholarship in science and technology studies that examines the use of experimental visualization to model turbulence in air and water around 1900. The essay discusses how two physicists–Etienne-Jules Marey and Friedrich Ahlborn–contrived to make visible, to measure, and to record these phenomena.” —from the SLSA prize announcement

The Schachterle Prize is awarded annually by the SLSA in recognition of the best new essay on literature and science written in English by a nontenured scholar.

Inge Hinterwaldner’s research interests include computer-based art and architecture, image theory, model theory, and temporality in the visual arts. Her first book is entitled Das systemische Bild (The systemic image; Munich, 2010).