Skip to Content

The A. Owen Aldridge Prize Citations 2005

2005 Prize Winner:

Katherine Mannheimer (Yale University), for her scholarly article, "To the Letter: The Material Text as Space of Adjudication in Pope's First Satire of the Second Book of Horace"

As its title indicates, the essay examines Pope's imitation of the second of Horace's famous "defenses" of satire. Through meticulous literary and linguistic analysis, Mannheimer shows how in this work Pope enacts a double justification, legitimizing not only his particular choices of words and themes, but also his chosen profession of poetry. Both poets set out to legitimize or justify their satire, and indeed to do so literally-- putting versions of themselves in discussion with a legal consel, and in dispute against the charge of libel (an actionable offense in both Pope's England and Horace's Rome). However, it is precisely in their use of the figure of the law that the two poems diverge. Horace invokes the law as a metaphor for the "laws" of genre, ultimately declaring the sovereignty of his poetry under its own, literary codes of conduct-codes both in competition with, and in mockery of, the laws of the State. In contrast, Pope invokes the law as that which his poetry abides by, enforces, and indeed enacts or performs.

Mannheimer's essay adroitly coordinates her close readings of Horace and Pope with the methodologies of influence studies, translatology, culture studies, and law and literature. As a combination of the very best in both older and newer ways of comparing literary texts, her essay richly deserves a prize established to honor a departed founder of the discipline in North America, by encouraging and rewarding the next generation of scholars.

2005 Aldridge Prize Committee:
Thomas Beebee, Pennsylvania State University