Main content start

Ato Quayson's Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature Selected for the 2021 Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award for Literary Scholarship and Criticism

Ato Quayson, Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Chair of the Department of English, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Robert Penn Warren-Cleanth Brooks Award for his book Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature (Cambridge University Press). The award honors the innovative and critical interpretations of literature by Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks, and is given in those years when a text exemplifies the Warren-Brooks effort in spirit, scope, and integrity. Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature examines tragedy and tragic philosophy from the Greeks through Shakespeare to the present day. It explores key themes in the links between suffering and ethics through postcolonial literature. In choosing the book for 2021's award, the selection committee cited Quayson's "study of the ways postcolonial tragedies engage and transform the traditional concerns of tragedy. [The] substantive and well-reasoned book is full of interesting, judicious, and insightful readings. The chapter on Beloved is particularly striking, challenging how we read Morrison and the role of “ethical choice” as a bedrock of tragedy. Methodologically, we found Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature to be a study in how scholarship in literary studies is best undertaken." The award will be presented during the meeting of the Robert Penn Warren Circle in April 2022 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.