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The Charles Bernheimer Prize Citations for 2018

Katherine “Katie” Kadue, for "Domestic Georgic from Rabelais to Milton." This elegant, beautifully turned work of comparative humanism moves between a range of English and French early modern authors—Rabelais, Du Bellay, Montaigne, Marvell, and Milton—to uncover the hidden intimacy of domestic and poetic labor. Grounding her analysis in a series of unexpected tropes—of pickling, preserving, household management, garden maintenance—Kadue shows how the apparent drudgery of housework finds its way into the fiber of the most elite and erudite of literary discourses. This dissertation is eye-opening and provocative, its own labor carried out through extraordinarily subtle close readings of a wide range of poetry and prose. Working within the European canon in order to decenter and expand its self-conception, Kadue offers a paradigm of “georgic” that moves beyond genre to develop a genuinely materialist account literary production.
Amir Khadem for "Endemic Pains and Pandemic Traumas: The Narrative Construction of Public Memory in Iran, Palestine, and the United States.” It is hard to imagine a more compelling case for the stakes of comparative work than the one made by this dissertation, which brings together Persian-, Arabic-, and English-language texts to achieve a frankly dialectical account of memory and trauma in the global context. Khadem moves easily between generous theoretical exegeses of his field and a skillful development of his own conceptual vocabulary. A sustained inquiry into the limits and legitimacy of universalism, Khadem persuades that literary comparativism has something to offer to an understanding of our contemporary crises. Original, timely, and thought-provoking in equal measure, “Endemic Pains and Pandemic Traumas” is an exemplary work of scholarship and of political imagination.