MLA First Book Prize: Arranging Grief

A big award for an NYU Press author! From the Georgetown University announcement:

The Modern Language Association (MLA) of America has awarded the 2008 Prize for a First Book to Georgetown English professor Dana Luciano, for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (New York University Press 2007).

In “Arranging Grief,” Luciano, an associate professor of English, presents a new perspective on the history of sexuality by thinking through the connections between the body, time and attachment. She argues that the pronounced 19th-century attention to grief and mourning should be read as a response to cultural anxieties over various aspects of modernization, including the modernization of time itself.

In the book, Luciano argues that the enticements of what nineteenth-century mourning manuals called the “luxury of grief” offered a means of resistance to a new order of time that was frequently described as mechanical and impersonal, precisely because the time of grief—the slow time of deep feeling—could be experienced (and embraced) as personal, human, intimate. Examining a wide range of nineteenth-century texts, including mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, speeches, poetry, and fiction by James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and others, Luciano shows how the “sacred time” associated with grief was also used as a means of intervening in questions facing the nation, such as slavery, war and Indian removal.

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