Prof, Editors Capture MLA Awards

—Jakob Schiller
Friday December 05, 2003

Three UC Berkeley luminaries have landed in the literary limelight after receiving two awards from the prestigious Modern Language Association of America (MLA).  

Priya Joshi, Associate Professor of English at the College of Letters and Sciences, won the 10th annual Prize for a First Book for her work “In Another Country: Colonialism, Culture, and the English Novel in India.” 

Michael B. Frank and Harriet Elinor Smith, principal editors with UC Berkeley’s Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library, received the Morton M. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters for their editing of the book Mark Twain’s Letters: Volume 6: 1874-1875—described by the MLA as an “exemplary collection of the correspondence of a major American author.” 

Recognized as an “innovative and ambitious book [that] challenges simplistic hegemonic perspectives on colonialism and culture,” and for “[gleaning] new understandings of how English books were read in India in the 19th century and of the process by which consumers of those books became producers of Indian literature in English,” Joshi’s book also recently captured the Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies from the Northeast Victorian Studies Association, and an honorable mention from the SHARP Book History Prize. 

The Mark Twain Project’s award was the second honor the project has received from the MLA. Back in 1995 they received the MLA Prize for a Distinguished Scholarly Edition for their edition of Mark Twain’s Roughing It, co-edited by Harriet Smith. 

The latest award also singled out the book’s “Guide to Editorial Practice,” prepared by Project General Editor Robert Hirst. 

“From our point of view it’s quite a distinction,” Hirst said about the award. 

Previous winners of the Cohen Award include The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, The Correspondence of William James, and The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams: Volume 1, 1920-1945. 

—Jakob Schiller