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The College of Arts Sciences

English Professor Caroline Levine receives MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize

By: Linda B. Glaser,  Arts Sciences Communications
Mon, 12/05/2016

Caroline Levine, David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities in the Department of English, will receive the 47th annual James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association (MLA) for her book “Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network.” The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the MLA. The award will be presented on Jan. 7, 2017 in Philadelphia, during the MLA annual convention.

Levine’s book “argues for a redesign of formalism to explore new ways of thinking about relations between literature and social life,” noted the award committee, who called the book “pathbreaking,” “erudite and convincing, ” adding that it is written “with a stunning clarity that opens it to diverse readers in and beyond the academy.”

“Forms: Whole, Rhythm,  Hierarchy, Network” was also the recipient of the Dorothy Lee Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Culture from the Media Ecology Association.

Levine’s research interests include how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. She argues for the understanding of forms and structures as crucial to understanding links between art and society. She is currently the nineteenth-century editor for the Norton Anthology of World Literature and has written on topics ranging from formalist theory to Victorian poetry and from television serials to academic freedom. 

Her other books include “The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt” (2003), which received the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies; and  “Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts” (2007). 


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