The René Wellek Prizes recognize outstanding books in the discipline of comparative literature. Submissions can pertain to any field of comparative literature, but they are expected to cross national, linguistic, geographic or disciplinary borders.
In 2023 the Wellek Prizes Committee includes:
Authors or publishers wishing to nominate one or more titles for the Wellek Prize should send a PDF copy of the book to the ACLA Secretariat
The submission deadline for the 2023 Wellek Prizes is November 1st, 2022.
The ACLA encourages the early nomination of titles, as prize committees usually receive a large number of submissions just before the deadline. A selective approach to nominations is also recommended, in order that a few books of superior quality may stand out.
PLEASE NOTE that a book previously nominated for the Wellek Prizes or the Levin (first book) Prize may not be re-nominated for either. A book may be nominated in either of its two years of eligibility, but not in both years. First books are also eligible for the Wellek Prizes, but no book may be nominated for both prizes.
Prize winners will receive complimentary registration for the 2023 Annual Meeting, as well as roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations for up to three nights at the conference hotel. Please consult the ACLA Secretariat
for further details.
Previous René Wellek Prize Winners
Please click on the year of the prize to view information about the prize winner and 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.
- 2022: Gil Z. Hochberg, Monograph, Becoming Palestine: Toward an Archival Imagination of the Future (Duke University Press, 2021) (CITATION); Amelia M. Glaser and Steven S. Lee, Edited Essay Collection, Comintern Aesthetics (University of Toronto Press, 2020) (CITATION); and honorable mention Jini Kim Watson, Monograph, Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham University Press, 2021) (CITATION).
- 2021: Yogita Goyal, Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (New York University Press, 2019) (CITATION); and Gilberto Pérez, The Eloquent Screen (Minneapolis: U Minnesota Press, 2019) (CITATION).
- 2020: Martin Hägglund, This 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 Saussy, Translation as Citation: Zhuangzi Inside Out (University of Chicago Press) (CITATION)
- 2017: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (University of Minnesota Press, 2015); and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing 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)