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René Wellek Prize

Please check back in June for updated information on submission guidelines for the 2021-2022 award cycle. We will begin accepting submissions in July 2021.

Award Description

The René Wellek Prize recognizes an outstanding book in the discipline of comparative literature; fields may include literary or cultural theory or history, or any other field of comparative literature. Single- and co-authored books are eligible for this prize. The Wellek Prize will be awarded to a book published during the calendar years 2019 and 2020, and will be awarded at the ACLA Annual Meeting to be held April 8-11, 2021. The prize includes complimentary registration for the Annual Meeting, as well as hotel and airfare accommodations** (not including food) to facilitate the recipient attending the 2021 ACLA Annual Meeting.  (**economy-class airfare roundtrip from wherever the prize winner is located the week before the conference, and hotel accommodation for up to 3 nights at the conference hotel rate, or rough equivalent thereof if the conference hotel is booked).

2021 René Wellek Prize Winner

  • Yogita Goyal (University of California, Los Angeles), Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (New York University Press, 2019). CITATION

Nomination Guidelines

If you wish to nominate one or more titles for the René Wellek Prize, please send a brief letter to that effect and a copy of the book to each member of the René Wellek Prize Committee, including the ACLA SecretariatPLEASE NOTE that no book previously nominated for either the Levin or the Wellek Prize may be re-nominated for either prize; a book may be nominated in either of its years of eligibility, but not in both years. As per the instructions below, please send PDF-only submission to the three contacts indicated below:

Where to submit nominations to the René Wellek Prize
Please check back in Summer 2022 for submission information.

The deadline for submission is November 1st, 2020. The ACLA encourages the submission of titles as early as possible, as the committee usually receives a large number of submissions at the end of the year. A selective approach to nominations is also recommended, in order that a few books of superior quality may stand out.

Previous René Wellek Prize Winners
Please click on the year of the prize to view further information about the prize winner and the book (including a link to Amazon's web page for the book).

Note: in 2012, the ACLA changed the structure of its book prizes, and now awards two different book prizes each year: the René Wellek Prize for the best book published in the field of comparative literature, and the Harry Levin Prize for the best first book published in the field of comparative literature. First books are also eligible for the Wellek Prize, but no book may be nominated for both prizes. Publishers and authors are invited to submit nominations for both prizes.

  • 2020Martin HägglundThis Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom (Pantheon, 2019). CITATION
  • 2019: Richard Halpern, Eclipse of Action: Tragedy and Political Economy (University of Chicago Press) (CITATION)
  • 2018: Haun SaussyTranslation as Citation:  Zhuangzi Inside Out (University of Chicago Press) (CITATION)
  • 2017:  Jeffrey Jerome CohenStone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (University of Minnesota Press, 2015); and Viet Thanh NguyenNothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Harvard University Press, 2016)
  • 2016: Barry McCrea, Languages of the Night: Minor Languages and the Literary Imagination in Twentieth-Century Ireland and Europe (Yale University Press, 2015)
  • 2015: Michael Murrin, Trade and Romance (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
  • 2015 Honorable Mention: Rivkah Zim, The Consolations of Writing: Literary Strategies of Resistance from Boethius to Primo Levi (Princeton University Press, 2013)
  • 2014: Gaurav Desai, Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination (Columbia University Press, 2013)
  • 2014 Honorable Mention: Marie-Hélène Huet, Culture of Disaster (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
  • 2013: Kader Konuk, East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey (Stanford University Press, 2010)
    2013 Honorable Mention: Karen Thornber, Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crises and East Asian Literatures (University of Michigan Press, 2012)
    Subramanian Shankar, Flesh and Fish Blook (University of California Press, 2012)
  • 2012: Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Duke University Press, 2011)
  • 2010: Anne-Lise François, Open Secrets: The Literature of Uncounted Experience (Stanford University Press, 2007)
    2010 Honorable Mention: Barbara Johnson, Persons and Things (Harvard University Press, 2008)
  • 2008: Joseph Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law (Fordham University Press, 2007).
    2008 Honorable Mention: Natalie Melas, All the Difference in the World: Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison (Stanford University Press, 2007)
  • 2006: Peggy Kamuf, Book of Addresses (Stanford University Press, 2005).
  • 2004: Barrett Watten, The Constructivist Moment: From Material Text to Cultural Poetics (Wesleyan University Press, 2003).
    2004 Honorable Mention: Margaret W. Ferguson, Dido's Daughters: Literacy, Gender and Empire in Early Modern England and France (University of Chicago P, 2003)
    Eric L. Santner, On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life: Reflections on Freud and Rosenzweig (University of Chicago Press, 2001)
  • 2002: Rei Terada, Feeling in Theory: Emotion after the 'Death of the Subject' (Harvard University Press, 2001)
  • 2000: N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman (University of Chicago Press, 1998)
  • 1998: Geoffrey H. Hartman, The Fateful Question of Culture (Columbia University Press, 1997)
  • 1996: Haun Saussy, The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (Stanford University Press, 1993)
    Gary Saul Morson,
    Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time (Yale University Press, 1994)
  • 1994: John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (University of Chicago Press, 1993)
  • 1992: Umberto Eco, The Limits of Interpretation (Indiana University Press, 1990)
    Thomas G. Pavel, The Feud of Language: A History of Structuralist Thought (Basil Blackwell Publishing, 1989)
  • 1988: Barbara A. Johnson, A World of Difference (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987)
  • 1986: Suzanne Gearhart, The Open Boundary of History and Fiction (Princeton University Press, 1985)
  • 1984: Edward W. Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (Harvard University Press, 1983)
  • 1981: Lawrence Manley, Convention, 1500-1700 (Harvard University Press, 1980)