Professor Anna Brickhouse has been named the winner of the Modern Language Association's forty-sixth annual James Russell Lowell Prize for her book The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford, 2014). The prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the profession, is awarded annually for an outstanding work—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association.
The prize committee’s citation for the winning book reads: "In The Unsettlement of America, Anna Brickhouse puts the close-reading skills of literary criticism to work in a skeptical analysis of stories about indigenous interpreters in the sixteenth-century Hispanophone world. The result is a forceful intervention in American studies. Brickhouse demonstrates that the motivated mistranslation practiced by native informants allowed them to pursue unsettlingly sophisticated political agendas, which were based on their shared knowledge of the devastating consequences of colonialism. Reading between the lines of historical documents, she challenges us to reconsider the power of language as used by the colonized to resist the very forces that have shaped the archive and the ways we understand it. Brickhouse tells a vivid story that speaks not only to advanced students of the hemispheric Americas but also to the common reader with an interest in history and how it gets made."
The James Russell Lowell Prize will be presented on 9 January 2016, during the MLA’s annual convention, to be held in Austin.
Read the full press release from the MLA here.