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Celebrating Britt Rusert: MLA announces book awards
Monday, December 10, 2018
Monday, December 10, 2018
We are so proud of the hard work and stellar scholarship of our own Dr. Britt Rusert. She has received one of only two “Honorable Mentions” from the First Book Prize committee of the Modern Language Association for her book, Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture. Please read excerpts from the MLA Press release below, or read the entire press release here.
MLA PRIZE FOR A FIRST BOOK AWARDED TO AMANDA JO GOLDSTEIN FOR SWEET SCIENCE AND TO MELANIE YERGEAU FOR AUTHORING AUTISM; COREY MCELENEY AND BRITT RUSERT TO RECEIVE HONORABLE MENTIONS
New York, NY – 5 December 2018 – The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its twenty-fifth annual Modern Language Association Prize for a First Book to Amanda Jo Goldstein, of the University of California, Berkeley, for Sweet Science: Romantic Materialism and the New Logics of Life, published by the University of Chicago Press, and to Melanie Yergeau, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness, published by Duke University Press. Receiving honorable mention are Corey McEleney, of Fordham University, for Futile Pleasures: Early Modern Literature and the Limits of Utility, published by Fordham University Press, and Britt Rusert, of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture, published by New York University Press.
The committee’s citation for Rusert’s book reads:
Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture constructs a new archive, expanding what constitutes science in the antebellum United States to include fugitive projects ranging from a black gravedigger’s authoritative knowledge of human skulls to Sarah Mapps Douglass’s health activism among African American women in Philadelphia. It shows not only how such projects refuted dominant, white
supremacist racial science that made black bodies into objects of exhibition and experimentation but also how they mobilized empiricism to advocate for the equal personhood and emancipation of black subjects. Exploring with subtlety and tact the outer limits of this archive where, because of slavery’s ban on literacy, further acts of scientific inquiry remain unrecorded, Britt Rusert makes readers newly aware of the courage and innovative thinking present in early African American culture.
Britt Rusert is an associate professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the coeditor of W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America. Rusert received her PhD from Duke University. Her research and teaching focus on African American literature and visual culture, Afrofuturism, speculative fiction, science and technology studies, gender and sexuality, and critical theory, especially Marxism, psychoanalysis, and black radical thought. She is currently working on a monograph about William J. Wilson’s ―Afric-American Picture Gallery, a text that imagines the first museum of black art in the United States. With Adrienne Brown, she is also editing W. E .B. Du Bois’s short genre fiction. Their edition of Du Bois’s fantasy story ―The Princess Steel was published in PMLA.