Skip to Content

The A. Owen Aldridge Prize Citations 2006

2006 Prize Winner:

The 2006 A. Owen Aldridge Prize for the Best Comparative Essay by a Graduate Student has been awarded to Michael Allan of the University of California, Berkeley, for his essay: “‘Reading with One Eye, Speaking with One Tongue’: On the Problem of Address in World Literature.”

Mr. Allan's essay deals insightfully with a central topic in Comparative Literature -- the status of world literature in the post-colonial era. The author analyses several examples of how reading publics are addressed, and he thoughtfully discusses the implications of having a cosmopolitan, intellectual readership versus reaching out to a provincial, and thus empathetic, public. Recent and contemporary critical concerns, such as postcolonialism and cosmopolitanism, are related to the thought of Jean-Paul Sartre through both intellectual genealogy in the figure of Frantz Fanon, and through the classical rhetorical topic of address. Moving elegantly between the writings of Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, and the Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, between Arabic and French, and between literary genres, the essay shows the limits of cosmopolitanism and thus challenges current notions of readership. In so doing, he raises interesting questions about native and non-native readers, national languages and dialects, cosmopolitanism, and world literature.

This cogent and intelligently argued paper deserves recognition and is extremely pertinent to current debates in literary studies. Given Owen Aldridge's passion for expanding the global dimensions of comparative literature, this essay is especially deserving of taking its place alongside other Aldridge winners.

2006 Aldridge Prize Committee:
Thomas Beebee, Pennsylvania State University