The latest happenings in the Department of English at the George Washington University
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Haylie Swenson: First Winner of the Michael Camille Essay Prize
Congratulations to MEMS PhD student Haylie Swenson for winning the Michael Camille Essay Prize! The prize was established this year and sponsored by postmedieval: A journal of medieval cultural studies, Palgrave Macmillan, and the BABEL working group. Her essay, "Lions and Latour Litanies in The Sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt," took first place out of twenty essays from contestants all over North America and Europe. The theme this year was "Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity" in honor of Michael Camille's last book on the gargoyles at Notre Dame and his lifelong work in medieval studies. The judges for the contest were Anne Harris of DePauw University, Robert Mills of University College London, Michael Moore of the University of Iowa, and Karl Steel of Brooklyn College (CUNY).
In response to Haylie's Essay, the judges said, "[her essay] makes an important contribution to object-oriented philosophies, critical animal studies, and indeed the ethics of the artistic encounter. This essay brims with original ideas, shedding new light on Villard de Honnecourt's Sketchbook and presenting one of the most sensitive readings of Villard's lion to date The author strikes a wonderfully Camillesque balance between visual analysis, verbal dexterity, and critical insight. The essay breaks free of longstanding debates over whether Villard drew his lions from life by reading his humanoid lion as an encounter with the "unnervingly direct gaze" of an agentic other, a strange, predatory, and ultimately unrepresentable thing." Villard's lion can now be understood as an artistic, powerful object in its own right, representing the unfathomable, even dangerous depths of any artistic object or any object, leonine, human, or otherwise." Finally, the essay makes a timely contribution to debates in animal/posthuman studies, fields in which postmedieval takes a special interest."