Yale News

Six Yale faculty members were honored by the Modern Language Association in early January.

The MLA recognized Katerina Clark, Erica Edwards, Jill Jarvis, Jessica Gabriel Peritz, Juno Jill Richards and Shane Vogel in an annual ceremony that rewards exceptional literary work. The honorees work across a number of disciplines at Yale, including comparative literature, Slavic languages, French, music, African American studies and English. Awardees attributed their success to their colleagues and Yale’s focus on interdisciplinary scholarship.

“What makes it so exciting to be here right now is to have such amazing colleagues on the faculty that I learn from every day, and who always support my research as much as I support theirs,” Shane Vogel said.

Vogel is new to Yale, having just joined the faculty in the 2021-2022 school year. Previously, he taught at the University of Indiana Bloomington.

Vogel, professor of English and African American Studies at Yale, won the William Riley Parker Prize for an outstanding article published in the Publications of the Modern Language Association. The prize, Vogel explained, is the MLA’s oldest award, first presented in 1964 and named in 1968. The award is given to an outstanding article published in the MLA’s flagship journal, the PMLA.

Vogel won the William Riley Parker Prize for his essay titled “‘Waiting for Godot’ and the Racial Theater of the Absurd.” The essay was published in the Jan. 2022 edition of the PMLA.

His essay, Vogel explained, is about a Black cast production of the 1956 Broadway play, “Waiting for Godot”. He considers the relationship of this edition of the play to experimental theater and avant garde art in the mid-20th century.

“My research focuses on histories of Black performance and the performance of race in the United States and the Caribbean, not just onstage but also in culture, in music, in nightlife. In other kinds of spectacles,” Vogel said.

Last semester, Vogel said, he taught a course called “African American Drama through 1959.” He explained that class discussions on Black theater in the Jim Crow era directly informed arguments in his essay. He said he is eager to continue incorporating aspects of his research into his classes.

Jessica Gabriel Peritz, an assistant professor of music, won the award for her book, “The Lyric Myth of Voice: Civilizing Song in Enlightenment Italy.” The book was published in November of 2022 by the University of California Press and focuses on putting literary and musical conceptions of voice in conversation.

“What I wanted to do with my book was make music and the importance that music has in culture legible to people outside of the field of music studies,” said Peritz, who won the 25th annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies. “I think about what historical musicology can tell us about ideas of voice that now extend well beyond music into our everyday conversations.” 

Peritz mainly researched and wrote her book during the pandemic, she said. In between Zoom teaching, she sifted through Italian archives. Peritz explained that her research examined artifacts from manuscripts and opera scores to novels and political pamphlets to sketches of famous castrato singers.

“I look at cliches like ‘find your inner voice’ or ‘raise your voice’…as well as literary ideas about voice like ‘author’s voice’, and then at historical ideas of literal singing voices,” Peritz said.

At Yale, Peritz teaches in the music department at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This semester, she is teaching a survey course in the music department called “Topics in Music, Gender, and Sexuality” as well as a seminar course cross listed across the music and humanities departments called “Music and Jane Austen.” 

Across both of her courses, Peritz explained how she constantly incorporates findings from her research into her teaching.

“I try to move away from Bach, Handel, Mozart, all those guys, and focus on the people who often get written out of music history,” Peritz said. “And, those are the people who populate my book.”

The 13th annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize was awarded to Jill Jarvis, assistant professor in the French department.

Jarvis was recognized by the MLA for her bookDecolonizing Memory: Algeria and the Politics of Testimony” which was published in May 2021 by the Duke University Press.

“[The book] is a series of close readings of literary works in multiple languages that centers on Algeria and the catastrophic state violence exercised by the colonial French,” Jarvis said. “It’s a way of using and looking at literature to think through things in history that have been silenced.”

At Yale, Jarvis works in the Department of French. Her research interests focus on the French Empire and state violence in Northern Africa. She explained that she uses literature to examine and write about the French empire.

In the past, Jarvis has taught a course called “Decolonizing Memory” both at the graduate and undergraduate level. The course, Jarvis explained, is about colonial violence and the politics of aesthetics in North Africa.

Like Vogel, Jarvis said her students have helped shape her scholarship.

“My teaching at Yale has been really closely connected to my research all along,” Jarvis said.  “I’m always putting texts on the syllabus that I’m writing about. Talking to students in my classes has also taught me a tremendous amount about my own work.”

Erica R. Edwards, professor of English and African American studies at Yale, received an honorable mention by the MLA for the James Russell Lowell Prize, for her book “The Other Side of Terror: Black Women and the Culture of U.S. Empire.”

The book, Edwards explained, examines the way Black women have been portrayed in U.S. government and popular culture in relation to national security and global power.

“The book tracks significant shifts in power over the course of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, allowing us to see how proliferating forms of difference—racial, gender, sexual—are essential to the millennial narratives of multicultural democratic righteousness that actually provided cover for hyper carceral, hyper surveillant, hypermilitarist governance throughout the post-1968 period,” Edwards wrote in an email to the News.

Edwards is also a new faculty member at Yale. She works in the departments of English and African American Studies. Currently, she teaches courses on Black feminist literature and theory and on twenty-first century Black culture.

The final two MLA honorees, Juno Jill Richards and Katerina Clark, did not respond to a request for comment.

Richards, who is an assistant professor in the English department, received an honorable mention for the MLA Prize for Collaborative, Bibliographical or Archival Scholarship. Their book, “The Ferrante Letters: An Experiment in Collective Criticism” — which they co-authored with colleagues at Princeton University, University of Oxford and Adelphi University — earned them the mention.

According to the Columbia University Press, which published the book, Richards’s collaborative work compiles a series of letters exchanged between the co-authors examining and close reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet novels.

The final MLA honoree is Katerina Clark, a professor of comparative literature and Slavic languages at Yale. She won the Matei Calinescu Prize for her book “Eurasia without Borders: The Dream of a Leftist Literary Commons, 1919-1943.”

The book was published by the Harvard University Press, which describes it as a project compiling Soviet, European and Asian leftist literature that attempted to create a single cultural space for anticapitalist and anti-imperialist thinking.

“I see these awards as affirmation that people in different fields really can find ways to make their areas legible to one another,” Peritz said. “It’s a way for all of us to broaden the way that we think about culture and not just be so restricted to our department. Yale is an incredibly welcoming place to be doing that.”

The MLA held their annual convention in San Francisco on Jan. 6.

Molly Reinmann covers Admissions, Financial Aid & Alumni for the News. Originally from Westchester, New York, she is a sophomore in Berkeley College majoring in American Studies.