We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 Norman Foerster Prize, awarded to the best essay of the year in American Literature: “Imperative Reading: Brothertown and Sister Fowler” by Ana Schwartz, published in volume 94, issue 4. Read the essay, freely available through the end of May, here.
The prize committee offered this praise for the winning essay: “Ana Schwartz’s superb essay, ‘Imperative Reading: Brothertown and Sister Fowler’ articulates a strikingly original and generative method of literary analysis that she names imperative reading. In a nuanced and careful reading of the correspondence between Samson Occom and his sister-in-law, Sister Fowler, Schwartz explores key debates at stake in the field of literary criticism today, including those concerning postcritical and affective reading, historicism, and archival studies. Her essay is distinguished by its elegant and nimble prose and thoughtful engagements with both the texts at hand and the larger fields of Indigenous studies, early American studies, and literary studies. Schwartz’s concept of imperative reading—the ‘experience of reading within a dense network of obligations’—is rooted in and extends theorizations of refusal in contemporary Indigenous and decolonial studies in compelling terms.”
The honorable mention for this year’s Foerster Prize was “The Diversity Requirement; or, The Ambivalent Contingency of the Asian American Student Teacher” by Douglas S. Ishii (vol. 94, no. 4). The committee had this to say about the honorable mention: “Douglas Ishii’s impressive essay, ‘The Diversity Requirement; or, The Ambivalent Contingency of the Asian American Student Teacher’ takes on both the practice of literary analysis and the nature of that work in the academy today. Ishii’s focus on crucial issues that inform the work of literary scholars today—the precarity of employment and the vicissitudes of institutional ‘DEI’ practices—is particularly astute and insightful. He moves deftly between an analysis of Asian American campus novels and the place of contingent Asian American faculty (including, at one time, himself) charged with teaching courses that fulfill diversity requirements. The essay is a tour-de-force in analyzing the institutions that shape our work and the work we do within the neoliberal academy today.”
Congratulations to Ana Schwartz and Douglas S. Ishii!