Modern Language Association of America Awards Book Prizes to Two Penn Arts and Sciences Professors

January 2, 2017

The Modern Language Association of America has awarded prizes for scholarly work to Kathryn Hellerstein, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and Paul Saint-Amour, professor of English.

Hellerstein received the eighth Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies, for A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987. The prize is awarded each even-numbered year, alternately to an outstanding translation of a Yiddish literary work and to an outstanding scholarly work in English in the field of Yiddish.

The selection committee cited Hellerstein’s winning translation, saying it, “significantly revises modern Yiddish literary history by introducing a new narrative of women’s writing. Through careful close readings and deft literary analysis, Hellerstein convincingly argues that modern women poets engaged with and activated a longer tradition of Jewish women’s writing.”

The first Matei Calinescu Prize has been awarded to Saint-Amour for Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form. The Prize, to be awarded annually, recognizes a distinguished work of scholarship in 20th- or 21st-century literature and thought.

Of Saint-Amour’s winning work, the selection committee wrote, “This beautiful book turns its face to death and to the sky. Looking up, it looks in, unsealing a historical and literary archive in which the threats of air war and of anonymous oblivion illuminate transformations in the human relation to time.”

The awards are among 17 to be presented in January during the association’s annual convention, to be held in Philadelphia.

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