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The Harry Levin Prize Citation 2015

R. John Williams’s The Buddha in the Machine is a remarkable first book. In arguing that since the late nineteenth century the West has turned to Asia for aesthetic models in response to the “crisis of modernity,” Williams draws on broad and deep research not just into the Asian models for this turn, but into an astonishing variety of western cultural material, ranging from nineteenth-century advertising and bookbinding techniques through high modernist poetry and on to contemporary industrial design. The Buddha in the Machine is notable for the virtuosity of its readings across a number of media and fields, the lucidity and conviction of its argument, and above all for its provision of a new optic through which to view a key intercultural exchange. This is comparative work of the highest order.

2015 Harry Levin Prize Committee:
Stathis Gougouris, Columbia University (Chair)
Nouri Gana, University of California, Los Angeles
Michael Jennings, Princeton University