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The René Wellek Prize Citation 2010 (Honorable Mention)

Barbara Johnson, Persons and Things (Harvard UP, 2008)

The jury wishes to single out for special praise Barbara Johnson's Persons and Things. Johnson's eighth book is a tour de force, a brilliant reflection on modes of animation, on the porous boundaries between persons and things, the contradictory roles of materiality, rhetoric, and desire in these relations, and the stakes of such pervasive rhetorical operations as apostrophe, personification, and prosopopoeia. Ranging widely over the most diverse cultural phenomena, from Supreme Court cases to literary works, Persons and Things explores such issues as how the dynamics of identification and personification are mediated by people's relations to things. This book epitomizes and offers a fitting memorial to Barbara Johnson's extraordinary talent.