Book Awards. The Winners for 2022 (Mainz)

The ESSE Book Awards for 2022 were announced on 29 August 2022 in a ceremony at the University of Mainz, the host of the ESSE 16 Conference. The prizes were given by the ESSE President, Professor Andreas H. Jucker (here with award winners, from left to right: Carmen Pérez-Llantada, Carolin Gebauer and Miriam Borham-Puyal).

English language and linguistics Category A (Open)

Carmen Perez-Llantada. Research Genres Across Languages. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Discussing the development of genres, especially English for Academic Purposes and English for Specific Purposes in general, the book offers a critical description of genre evolution. The author’s findings prove that it is difficult to pinpoint genre diversity in today’s research due to the intersection of digital discourses and multilingual practices in scientific communication. Discussions of the multilingualism of science, multilingual education, ecological diversity and the place of English as its medium also take quite a lot of space in the volume. The book is a comprehensive study of genre, with extensive theoretical and applicative data which are used as a strong basis for looking at a chosen issue from various perspectives. The contemporaneity of the research question, clear deliberation, argumentation and presentation of analysed data, and attention to details are visible throughout the text. The theoretical background offers a critical overview as well, and the issues discussed strongly connect the notion of genre analysis to different applied linguistic research topics. In addition, the book covers a wide range of issues on academic publishing and offers pedagogical orientations to train young researchers. Addressing the notion of different types or kinds of genres, the book reveals their social intentions within the motley concoction of languages, societies and cultures which encompass the present-day academic and research society.

English language and linguistics Category B (First Book)

Yolanda Fernández-Pena. Reconciling Synchrony, Diachrony and Usage in Verb Number Agreement with Complex Collective Subjects. Routledge, 2020.

The book is an excellent synchronic and diachronic corpus based study of verb number agreement within complex noun phrases. The author researches three corpora (Corpus of Historical American English, British National Corpus and the Corpus of Contemporary American English) by using statistical modelling. More than 5000 tokens of synchronic and diachronic data are scrutinized under a usage-based perspective to provide an in-depth study of the variables in verb number agreement. The main contribution to linguistic research that the volume contains lies in the parallel encompassing of diachronic and synchronic data, which provoke possible further insights into this predominately morpho-syntactic issue, thus, once again, proving the importance of the use of corpus linguistic research apparatus in the present-day linguistic studies. This is a very valuable work for future research of grammatical and linguistic change and variation in English language.

Literatures in the English language Category A (Open)

Gregory Lynall. Imagining Solar Energy: The Power of the Sun in Literature, Science and Culture. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020.

Gregory Lynall’s exploration of solar energy as a trope in literature takes us back to the fascination with burning mirrors and burning glasses in Greek warfare as expressed in early modern treatises. He then traces the concomitant narrative of illumination and the Enlightenment as influential stories that shape conceptions of the sun throughout the 17th and 18th centuries with propagators such as Newton, Molyneux and Homberg. Lynall explores the moral connotations that come with ideas such as the “Sun of Justice” at a time when the sun is increasingly secularized as a result of the Copernican revolution. His investigation of the intellectual history of solar energy is informed by lucid readings of literary texts, mainly poetry in the 17th and 18th centuries, and mainly prose fiction in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. The historical account is thus also a reassessment of the way we think about literary periods in connection with intellectual history. Probing into the fascination with invisible rays in the Romantic period and the first experimental designs that align sunlight with electricity, for example, allows for a reappraisal of what we think separates Romanticism from Victorianism. Discussing dystopian narratives such as Stephen Poliakoff’s Blinded by the Sun and Ian McEwan’s Solar (2010), the book also highlights the legacy of a Promethean hybris. It is Lynall’s greatest achievement to show convincingly that a concept such as solar energy permeates literary history and radiates across genres, and equally that literary texts are a formidable go-to-place for historians who wish to trace intellectual debates in the light of our present concerns. Reflecting on “the roles literature and culture have played in imagining, mythologizing and reflecting the possibilities of harnessing solar energy” and “captur[ing solar radiance as a focal point between science and the imagination, this study argues that the literary, artistic and mythical resonances of solar power have not only been inspired by but also cultivated and sustained its scientific and technological development,” Lynall claims. (3) These historical resonances are relevant, as Lynall can show, as solar and nuclear radiance are aligned in the 20th century and in particular in current debates about decarbonizing and the idea of sustainable energy.

The study is a most fascinating and extremely topical journey into the meanders of Western thought whose common denominator is the awe that the sun has inspired, reflected in a variety of texts of culture. The research is impressive, comprehensive and elegantly phrased, the book provides the reader with exceptional pleasure of following how the approaches and conceptualisations of solar energy have changed across the ages. It is a most memorable scholarly and readerly experience.

Literatures in the English language Category B (First Book)

Carolin Gebauer. Making Time: World Construction in the Present-Tense Novel. Series: Narratologia: Contributions to Narrative Theory (Vol. 77). Berlin and Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2021.

The monograph displays a high level of originality and knowledgeability about narrative theories: an innovative book which rests on an important tradition of narratological, philosophical and linguistic scholarly approaches to the novel, including Anglophone and Germanophone theoretical texts. The monograph addresses a mode of narration that is usually neglected, whereas what transpires from the analyses is an incredible functional versatility of using the present tense. The textual analyses are in perfect harmony with the theory, using the terms of narratology not only precisely and extensively, but also in insightful and productive ways. This 350-page monograph also includes two useful and well compiled indexes, which is an extra asset. As such, the monograph is a valuable contribution both to narratology and to the interpretation of the selected texts, and will surely provide both an inspiration and a workable methodology for future scholars in the field.

Cultural and area studies in English Category A (Open)

Miriam Borham-Puyal. Contemporary Rewritings of Liminal Women: Echoes of the Past. Routledge, 2020.

In this highly illuminating and informative book Borham-Puyal establishes the relevance of the concept of liminality as “transition toward, in-betweenness, or ambiguity“ (2) in literary and cultural studies. Using  4 liminal identities, i.e. vampyres, prostitutes, quixotes and detectives she analyses “feminocentric narratives that challenge gender, and often genre, conventions“ (2) through an impressive selection of literary and onscreen works concerned with one of such liminal figures across time and space. The book is an exhaustive and comprehensive study with a diachronic, transnational and comparative approach that aims to form a dialogue between the past and present constructions of feminity that can be recommended to every reader, especially in the era of the #MeToo movement.

Cultural and area studies in English Category B (First Book)

Will Bowers. The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815–1823. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Will Bowers’s The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture, 1815–1823 explores the influence of Italy on English literary culture in early 19th century through social events and the relationship between literary  and political climates bringing together such traditionally disparate approaches such as close reading, historical writing, manuscript studies and literary and cultural theories. Bowers’s close reading of a selection of poems, something authors often avoid these days, contains intensive analyses of rhetorical devices, metrical, rhythmical, and stylistic issues thereby inviting a  fresh discussion of how aesthetics is, in fact, an essential part of intellectual and cultural formations involved in literary experience. The structure and very detailed analyses that the book offers along  with Bowers’s very comprehensive and impressive bibliography  used in his study render the book an academically sophisticated and compelling research that addresses deeper and wider issues in the field

The photos of the book covers are drawn from the website of Amazon.