ESSE Book Awards, the winners for 2012 (Istanbul)


Award in Category A:

Hugo Bowles. Storytelling and Drama: Exploring Narrative Episodes in Plays. John Benjamins, 2010.

This book provides a highly successful combination of linguistic and literary approaches to the study of narrative episodes in a wide range of dramatic texts from Aeschylus to Pinter. The basic notions of narrative and dramatic discourse (Ch.1) together with the interactional model (2) provide the foundation for the analysis, which falls into two parts, the first (1-4) dealing with the overall methodology, the second (5-8), focusing on the tellability of the narrative episode. Insights from interactional sociolinguistics, narrative theory, conversation analysis, and discourse analysis are utilized in the discussion of the material. An innovative feature is the use of Conversation Analysis techniques for the local or micro-analytical analysis.
There is a rich inventory of examples of stories from older and more contemporary drama and some longer case studies. However, the numerous illustrations are occasionally somewhat decontextualized, giving the impression of a series of single-case studies. For linguists it may be somewhat unsatisfactory that the examples of story-telling are not collected systematically.
The book is written with great elegance in a style which makes it accessible both to an audience already familiar with conversational analysis and discourse analysis and newcomers to the field. It is clearly structured moving from a micro-linguistic to a macro-linguistic or interactional perspective in the analysis.
The author’s thorough discussion of a variety of theoretical and methodological postulates together with the detailed classification of narrative types and subtypes are particular strengths of the study. The work shows that linguistic techniques can contribute to literary analysis. The findings should therefore also be relevant to literary scholars.

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Honourable Mentions:

Alwin Frank Fill. The Language Impact. Evolution-System-Discourse. Equinox, 2010.

Anita Naciscione. Stylistic Use of Phraseological Units in Discourse. John Benjamins, 2010.









Award in Category B:

Carlos Prado-Alonso. Full-Verb Inversion in Written and Spoken English. Peter Lang, 2011.

This book is a corpus-based study of full-verb inversion types of written and spoken discourse. The terminological premises are clearly set out and the previous work on the subject is thoroughly analysed and commented on. The corpus investigation of written and spoken corpora is based on two main groups: non-obligatory and obligatory full inversions.  The results indicate that speech and writing do not differ strongly in the number of full inversions but rather in the different types of full inversion used.
The study is a truly impressive piece of research. Although the topic in general has attracted a lot of research, the study of full inversion in speech has been neglected. The overview of previous work within different formal and functional theories is excellent and also ‘pedagogical’ for readers who for example are not experts in formal generative theory or cognitive linguistics. The author’s argumentation is convincing and the monograph is a pleasure to read. The corpora are well chosen. The ICE corpus is, for example, excellent for identifying full inversion automatically. The corpus also makes it possible to give detailed information about the frequencies of different types of inversion in speech and writing (or fiction and non-fiction) and test hypotheses in previous work. The author makes excellent use of the Finnish linguist N-E. Enkvist’s Principle of Experiential Iconicity to explain variation in the linguistic order of elements. The idea that the full inversion structure can be regarded as a construction with variations from a more salient or prototypical construction is very promising for future research.

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Honourable Mentions:

Laura Cano Mora. This Book Will Change Your Life! Hyperbole in Spoken English. PUV Universitat de València, 2011.

Cristiano Furiassi. False Anglicisms in Italian. Polimetrica, 2010.



Award in Category A:

Faye Hammill. Sophistication: A Literary and Cultural History. Liverpool University Press, 2010.

Faye Hammill’s Sophistication is an innovative, well-written and clearly structured book, well-researched in terms of literary and cultural history. It covers an impressive historical and literary breadth, ranging from canonical texts (e.g., Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, Henry James’s Daisy Miller, Noël Coward’s Private Lives or Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita) to once popular but now obscure texts (e.g. Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson or Winifred Watson’s Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). It connects sophistication with recent and contemporary nostalgia for modernism, but also, in wider terms, with “nostalgia for earlier technologies, or even pre-technological eras” and recent “retro” fashions. Its principal contribution is the establishment of productive links between the study of literature, fashion and technology in a wide historical scope, from Sentimentalism to late Modernism. This makes the book a unique contribution to both literary and cultural studies.

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Honourable Mentions:

Elizabeth Eger. Bluestockings: Women of Reason from Enlightenment to Romanticism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Claire Jowitt. The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime. Ashgate, 2010.

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Award in Category B:

Michelle J. Smith. Empire in British Girls’ Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880-1915. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

In this stimulating study Michelle Smith, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne, sets out to trace representations of girl characters in British children’s texts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to show how they are shaped by the British Empire. To carry out this challenging and interesting task, the author brings together evidence from a wide variety of sources, that include the popular magazine Girls’s Own Paper of the period 1880-1907, a handbook of the Girl Guide organization, as well as a large corpus of novels. The book provides a detailed and engaging discussion about a type of cultural production that has often been neglected, that of girls’ literature, and manages to bring to the forefront of modern scholarship little-known novels, such as Angela Brazil’s school stories and Bessie Marchant’s adventure fiction. The arguments are presented in a cohesive and logical manner, with full awareness of the theoretical and methodological aspects that currently characterize the study of these literary and cultural products. Written in a clear, precise and readable style, this valuable research work succeeds in showing the diversity and complexity of the ways in which the late Victorian and Edwardian girl was portrayed in print culture as a reflector of the imperial project. It may serve as a reliable source of erudite research for the specialist, but also as a volume of pleasant, intellectual reading for those interested in the history of imperial Britain, seen from a less common perspective.


Honourable Mentions:

William May. Stevie Smith and Authorship. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Ana Raquel Lourenço Fernandes. What About the Rogue? Survival and Metamorphosis in Contemporary British Literature and Culture. P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2011.

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Award in Category A:

Martin Willis. Vision, Science and Literature, 1870-1920. Pickering & Chatto, 2011.

This is a highly original work and a landmark study whose impact is likely to be long lasting. Victorian perceptions of visuality and modes of seeing are explored in great and fascinating detail with an eye to (pun intended) delineating this Victorian legacy in the contemporary world.  Even the organization and structure of the book are intricate and reminiscent of 17th  century metaphysical poetry, in that they bring together images and realities which seem to be quite remote from one another, and yet whose connections are demonstrated to be much stronger than one might have suspected (the telescope and H. G. Wells’ fiction, for example). The book is a “tour de force”, and Willis demonstrates with great skill and precision that there is a complex and fruitful interaction between literature, science, and the imagination.

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Honourable Mention:

M. O. Grenby. The Child Reader 1700-1840. Cambridge University Press, 2011.


Award in Category B:

Katherine E. Russo. Practices of Proximity. The Appropriation of English in Australian Indigenous Literature. Cambridge Scholars, 2010.

Through an innovative approach that employs a variety of theoretical approaches knowledgeably and astutely, Russo’s book challenges a number of assumptions concerning ‘genuine’ Indigenous Australian culture and its relationship with English. It also challenges those essentializing anthropological approaches that argue for the authenticity of what they regard as valid oral productions in Indigenous languages, as opposed to more recent artistic forms such as rock or rap. Practices of Proximity treats the term ‘appropriation’ in ways that allow the term to expand fluidly within a constantly shifting English language frame. Ultimately, Russo gives this contested and ambiguous term a new dimension in the process of exploring oral and written text as a site of contact. ‘Proximity’ suggests a zone of endless possibilities for authors, readers and language users to share and reinvent meaning and agency in the context of the painful colonial encounter. The Indigenous peoples of Australia have adapted and adopted the language of the colonizers to make it their own and to suit it to their own needs of self-expression.  This well-written book makes a valuable intervention in the field of postcolonial studies.  Yet, this intervention has a universal scope. Russo’s discussion offers ways of reading and understanding cultural and historical as well as linguistic paradigms that are pertinent to any situations of conflict, colonial domination, neocolonial power systems and questions of minority cultural production.

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