And the winner of the 2022 Balakian Prize is…

We are delighted to announce that the Balakian Prize 2022 has been awarded to May Hawas’s Politicising World Literature: Egypt, Between Pedagogy and the Public

Hawas’s book is a critical work of remarkable originality that is consistently analytical and argumentative in its presentation of ideas, with a strong comparative perspective. It examines a corpus of novels and travelogues written in English, Arabic, French, Czech and Italian to historicise Egypt’s cultural transactions with different parts of the world in both pre-modern and modern periods. The author demonstrates that against the formulaic and predictable post-colonial critical perspective, a ‘reworlding’ of Egyptian literary texts would help unravel their inherent plurality and polyphony by transcending the limitations of post-colonial historicism. She reinterprets the paradigm of world literature for a globalised world of culture, where the burden of history and the politics of representation have lost their urgency and centrality. She pleads for a revision of the existing pedagogy and principles of comparatism, to engage with the ‘world’ in ‘world literature’ as an open site of possibilities of textual resonances and receptions, and inter-literary dialogues.         

The jury has selected the book, Baroque Modernity: An Aesthetics of Theater by Joseph Cermatori for Honourable Mention. The book traces the role of Baroque theatre in shaping a new aesthetic of modernism, at the turn of the twentieth century. Backed by sound scholarship, the book evidences theoretical acumen and analytical rigour. Cermatori succeeds in situating the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Stephane Mallarmé, Walter Benjamin and Gertrude Stein in the context of the baroque theatre with reference to their engagements with the ideas of space, experience and performance.

Congratulations to Maya and Joseph!