USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies

2009 Citation Recipient

Priscilla Meyer

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: Priscilla Meyer
Title: How the Russians Read the French: Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy (University of Wisconsin Press)

Margaret Beissinger, Bozena Shallcross, and John Bowlt, as members of the Committee for the University of Southern California Book Prize, have examined and discussed the submissions with attention and enthusiasm. True, of the twenty-one books sent, not all were eligible for the award, e.g. two were collections, two were reference books, and one or two seemed very distant from the notion of cultural studies.

However, among the relevant submissions there were some very strong candidates and, as you can imagine, it was difficult to reach a unanimous decision. Some books engaged us by their unusual subjects, some by their innovative methodologies, some by their richness of style, but, in the end, our choice was guided not only by these qualities, but also by the perceived impact of this or that title on our appreciation of Russian culture in general. Among our leading questions were: How does this or that title deepen our understanding of Russian culture? Does it describe, expose, and integrate foreign influences? Does the author manage to connect Russian culture, often seen as isolated and “different”, with the international arena? Finally, does the book strengthen and advance our professional field?

After careful deliberation, we concluded that the following book met these criteria and answered our questions: Priscilla Meyer, How the Russians Read the French: Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Therefore, we are recommending this book to AAASS and proposing that Professor Meyer be the recipient of the 2009 University of Southern California Book Prize.