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Carlos Nugent wins 2020 Foerster Prize

February 19, 2021

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Norman Foerster Prize, awarded to the best essay of the year in American Literature: “Lost Archives, Lost Lands: Rereading New Mexico’s Imagined Environments” by Carlos Alonso Nugent, published in volume 92, issue 2. Read the essay, freely available through the end of April, here.

The prize committee offered this praise for the winning essay: “Carlos Alonso Nugent’s remarkable article addresses two generations of artists whose work stages environmental struggle in the US-Mexico borderlands. Moving between the imagined environments of the Precarious Desert of Adelina Otero-Warren and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s and the Alianza Federal de Mercedes’s Pueblo Olvidado revival in the 1960s and 1970s, Nugent constellates an archive of environmental writing that is shaped by its complex relationships to colonial power and land claims. Throughout, we not only see exquisite and nuanced readings but an approach to ecology, media, and archival work that should transform how we frame accounts of the borderlands in the twentieth century.”

The honorable mention for this year’s Foerster Prize was Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s “Writing with Pencils in the Antebellum United States: Language, Instrument, Gesture” (vol. 92, issue 2; the essay is freely available through April here). The committee had this to say about the honorable mention: “Blake Bronson-Bartlett’s account of writing in the nineteenth century tells a surprising and highly original story about materiality and writing in the period. The article challenges materialist studies of nineteenth-century archives to take up scenes of writing with media-historical rigor and trains its focus on the case of the pencil as a convincing model for an analysis that can capture the interlaced relationships among instrument, language, and gesture. Bronson-Bartlett reimagines the subject of writing with a refreshing intimacy.”

Congratulations to Carlos Alonso Nugent and Blake Bronson-Bartlett!