2020 USC Book Prize
The University of Southern California Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies, established in 2009 and sponsored by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Southern California, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia in the fields of literary and cultural studies in the previous calendar year.
Winner: Simon Franklin
Title: The Russian Graphosphere, 1450-1850 (Cambridge University Press)
In his latest contribution to the study of the Russian literary-cultural landscape, Russian Graphospheres, 1450–1850, Simon Franklin draws on years of extensive and scrupulous research to reframe the history and cultures of Russian writing. The neologism of the title introduces a remapping of the written word, the technologies through which the written word materialized, and the dialogue between texts and the world. In his consideration of “how and why words came to be where they are in the world around us,” Franklin leaves no stone unturned, offering new perspectives on books and manuscripts with a long critical tradition, while introducing ephemera and nonbooks that have, until now, received little, if any, academic consideration. Spanning both linearly across time and laterally over a range of material contexts, Russian Graphospheres combines breadth with depth, creative thinking with respect for tradition, and is written in eminently readable prose that stimulates dialogue across diverse disciplines.
Franklin has written an important book, one that inspires readers to reevaluate past assumptions about the history of material texts, categories of writing and the institutions that determine their value. His is a work whose implications extend beyond the chronological and geographical indicators of its title and that has the potential to establish a new branch of literary and cultural studies beyond the boundaries of our field.