MLA Awards Prize to William Blake Archive

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi for the William Blake Archive

BlakeNew York, NY 16 November 2003 The Modern Language Association of America has announced the winner of the fifth Modern Language Association Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition. The prize will be presented to Morris Eaves (Univ. of Rochester), Robert N. Essick (Univ. of California, Riverside), and Joseph Viscomi (Univ. of North Carolina), for their Web site the William Blake Archive, administered by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. The coeditors will receive a total of $1,000 plus certificates containing the text of the selection committee s citation. Honorable mention goes to Margaret Jane Kidnie (Univ. of Western Ontario) for her edition of Philip Stubbes, The Anatomie of Abuses, published by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Kidnie will receive a certificate containing the text of the selection committee's citation.

The MLA Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition was established by the MLA Executive Council in 1994 in response to a proposal from the association s Committee on Scholarly Editions. The inaugural prize was presented in 1995 to Edgar M. Branch and Harriet Elinor Smith, for Roughing It (Works of Mark Twain, vol. 2). In 1997, the prize was awarded to Joseph Donohue, editor of Oscar Wilde s The Importance of Being Earnest: A Reconstructive Critical Edition of the Text of the First Production, St. James s Theatre, London, 1895. In 1999, the award was given to Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, for her edition of Jacques de Voragine s La légende dorée, published by Honoré Champion, and the committee chose to name a finalist, Bruce E. Graver, for his edition of William Wordsworth s Translations of Chaucer and Virgil. The most recent award was presented in 2001 to Michael Rudick, for The Poems of Sir Walter Ralegh: A Historical Edition, published by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in conjunction with the Renaissance English Text Society.

Awarded each odd-numbered year since 1995, the prize is one of seventeen awards that will be presented on 28 December during the association s annual convention, held this year in San Diego. The members of the selection committee were A. R. Braunmuller (Univ. of California, Los Angeles); Timothy Brennan (Univ. of Minnesota); and Leah S. Marcus (Vanderbilt Univ.), chair. The committee s citation for the winning edition reads:

Blake ArchiveThe William Blake Archive is a dazzling combination of hypertextually organized texts, bibliographical and historical commentaries, and beautifully reproduced visual images, including thousands of plates of Blake drawings, watercolors, and manuscripts. In the past the prize has been awarded to single volumes in a multivolume series. This year s prize, similarly, is awarded to major scholarly additions to the archive published in 2001 or 2002, including Blake s first group of twenty-one watercolors illustrating the book of Job and three copies of The [First] Book of Urizen. If, as has been frequently suggested, the future of editorial scholarship lies in online editions, the William Blake Archive has set a high mark for future editorial practice through its clarity, user-friendliness, beauty, and erudition.

Morris Eaves is professor of English at the University of Rochester and taught previously at the University of New Mexico. He received a BA from Long Island University and a PhD from Tulane University. Eaves was awarded the William Riley Parker Prize by the MLA in 1978 for his article Blake and the Artistic Machine: An Essay in Decorum and Technology. He also received the Best Special Issue award from the Conference of Editors and Learned Journals, for Romantic Texts, Romantic Times: Homage to David V. Erdman (Studies in Romanticism). He is author or editor of seven books and has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the Guggenheim Foundation and grants from the Getty Grant Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Robert N. Essick is distinguished professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. He received a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a PhD in English and American literature from the University of California, San Diego. He was previously affiliated with California State University. Essick has received numerous grants and awards including a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Grant, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Among his principle publications are William Blake, Printmaker and William Blake s Commercial Book Illustrations, each of which was chosen as one of the outstanding books of their publication years by the Association of College and Research Librarians. He is author, coauthor, or editor of over a dozen other books and is on the editorial boards of Huntington Library Quarterly, Studies in English Literature, European Romantic Review, and Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly.

Joseph Viscomi is the James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His special interests are British Romantic literature, art, and printmaking. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His experience as a printmaker, painter, and curator served him well in Prints by Blake and His Followers, the catalog to an exhibition he organized at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University. He is also the author of Blake and the Idea of the Book, a study of the production, editing, and dating of the illuminated books that has overturned much of the conventional wisdom about Blake s illuminated-book medium. He is the coeditor, with Morris Eaves and Robert Essick, of William Blake s Illuminated Books, vol. 3, and with Robert Essick, vol. 5.