Professor Melissa Sanchez’s book Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition receives Honorable Mention for the MLA’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies.
December 15, 2020
Professor Melissa E. Sanchez was awarded an Honorable Mention for the twenty-eighth annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies by the Modern Language Association for her recent book Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition (New York University Press, Sexual Cultures Series, 2019). The Scaglione Prize honors outstanding scholarly works in the fields of comparative literary history, philology, and critical theory from any period.
The committee’s citation for the book reads: “Melissa E. Sanchez’s Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition brilliantly defamiliarizes well-known early modern texts by Petrarch, Shakespeare, Milton, and others by reading them alongside Pauline theology. Both Paul and the early modern authors Sanchez explores emerge in a new light, provocatively estranged and complexly queer. Paul, here the source for a theology and a theory that understands desire as unescapably promiscuous and selfhood as endlessly fragmentary,provides the canonical authority for a poetics of secular love that still looks radical. In a set of careful and imaginative rereadings of frequently reread texts, Sanchez discovers an “ethics of promiscuity” in poems too often understood as normative in their erotic politics—or even as texts that produced some of these norms. Sanchez makes a compelling and surprising case for what she calls the “translatability of religious writing to queer theory.”