Santesso Awarded James Russell Lowell Prize

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Aaron Santesso, associate professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, has been selected to receive the Modern Language Association of America's (MLA) James Russell Lowell Prize for his coauthored book The Watchman in Pieces Surveillance, Literature, and Liberal Personhood.
Santesso shares the award with co-author David Rosen of Trinity College.
"The Watchman in Pieces is outstanding in both scope and execution—a risk-taking historical overview of signal developments in the coevolution of the surveillant state and the self-monitoring liberal subject from the sixteenth century into the present. To the manifest timeliness of their topic David Rosen and Aaron Santesso bring the seasoning perspective of history and the subtilizing perspective of theory, including a firm resistance to the sovereignty of Foucauldian paradigms. Closely watched texts come alive in new ways; even more impressive are the juxtapositions that carry the argument forward. The authors sustain a deft expository verve that conveys an ambitious template for reading and rereading in a wide variety of genres." - MLA Committee on Honors and Awards
MLA is the world's largest academic association centering on the study of languages and literatures. The James Russell Lowell Prize is among the most prestigious awards in the Humanities in North America, given to an "an outstanding literary or linguistic study." Since 1969, when Harvard's Helen Vendler was chosen as the first recipient, the prize has been awarded to studies written by some of the most celebrated names in the humanities: Sianne Ngai, Paula R. Backscheider, W.J.T. Mitchell, Jerome McGann, Fredric Jameson, Stephen Greenblatt, V.A. Kolve, Jonathan Culler, and Theodore Ziolkowski. The prize consists of a cash award and a certificate and will be presented to the winning co-authors at the MLA's annual convention in January 2015. 

"One thing we learned, and which we tried to convey in the book, is that people have been alternately enthusiastic and worried about new surveillance technologies for centuries, even as people who actually work in the surveillance industry continue to rely on what we might call "humanistic" skills: analytical ability, interpretation, putting things into perspective, etc." - Santesso on writing The Watchman in Pieces

Santesso's winning of the James Russell Lowell prize underscores the outstanding level of scholarship and research in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Beth Godfrey
  • Created:12/03/2014
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016


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