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The Charles Bernheimer Prize Citations 2011

2011 Prize Winner:

This year's Bernheimer Prize Award for Best Dissertation by a Graduate Student in Comparative Literature goes to Bishupal Limbu of Northwestern University, for his dissertation, "Fiction, Theory, and Social Justice: Dispropriative Readings."

Bishupal Limbu’s dissertation is a transformative theoretical engagement with contemporary texts—literary, cinematic, philosophical and documentary —from Palestine, South Africa, Guinea, Nepal and Mali. Drawing on the work of Derrida, Levinas and Spivak, among others, Limbu defends and exemplifies the practice of what he terms “dispropriative reading,” which, in his own brilliant enactment, movingly interrogates the boundaries between fiction and ethics, criticism and politics, humanistic study, and social justice.

Simultaneously demonstrating and interrogating how a socially engaged reading should be conducted, the four tightly constructed and lucidly argued chapters of the dissertation ask a series of fundamental questions with significance well beyond their specific subject matter: how should we conceive of democracy in the context of globalization? What and who falls outside of both, while nevertheless constituting them? How is the category of the human to be thought in relation to the problematic figure of the refugee and the status of animals? What, after all, is Enlightenment? Limbu’s treatment of these questions explores the multiple ways in which texts imaginatively refigure existing social structures and norms. His dissertation is a formidable work of humanistic study explicitly driven by an impulse of ethical and political engagement. As such, it displays the power of textual analysis to extend its relevance well beyond disciplinary confines.

2011 Bernheimer Prize Committee:
Ilya Kliger, New York University (Chair)
Kate Holland , University of Toronto
Jonathan Abel, Penn State University