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Professor Jean-Christophe Cloutier’s book “Shadow Archives” wins the MSA 2019 First Book Prize

Professor Jean-Christophe Cloutier was awarded the Modernist Studies Association First Book Prize for his Shadow Archives: the Lifecycles of African American Literature (Columbia University Press, 2019). The yearly award is given to an author whose first monograph is deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the field of modernist studies.


In their citation, the book prize committee write, “Shadow Archives: The Lifecycles of African American Literature by Jean-Christophe Cloutier is an original exploration of the creation, silent waiting, and spectral existence of African American writers’ archival legacies. The author delivers on a great number of levels, recounting a suspenseful scholarly story of his excavations within archival collections. These led to the discovery in 2009 of Claude McKay’s once-lost satirical novel Amiable with Big Teeth (written in 1941), which Cloutier then co-edited and published in 2017 and, later, of the uncatalogued manuscript for Ann Petry’s The Street (published in 1946). Cloutier’s description of the precarious trajectories of letters, notes, and manuscripts through time, in turn, leads to a powerful argument about African American authors’ archival sensibilities and their own inherent understanding of their fragile legacies. A significant contribution not only to modernist studies but a number of constituencies in the humanities, Shadow Archives enacts and argues for immersive engagements with archival labyrinths as a way to forge new disciplinary futures.”


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