Professor Sianne Ngai will receive the MLA's 2012 James Russell Lowell Prize for her latest publication, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting at the annual convention held in Chicago on January 11, 2014.
The selection commitee members write: "Sianne Ngai's Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting masterfully shows what the return of theory can do for cultural studies. By reimagining what it means to take aesthetics seriously, Ngai lets us see how the seemingly weak and trivialized categories zany, cute, and interesting signal fundamental changes in the status of the work of art in late capitalism. From James's Portrait of a Lady to I Love Lucy, from the art of Yoshitomo Nara to Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, this book dazzlingly combines philosophical investigation, intellectual history, literary and artistic analysis, and cultural criticism. In so doing, it excavates for us familiar but rarely analyzed categories through which we make sense of the modern world and its objects."