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Pomona Professor Receives National First Book Award for Engaging Study of Copyrights

Paul K. Saint-Amour, associate professor of English at Pomona College, will be awarded the prestigious Prize for a First Book by the Modern Language Association of America (MLA), for his work The Copyrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination, published by Cornell University Press.

In his book, Saint-Amour challenges the notion that the function of copyrights ends with the provision of private incentives to creation and innovation. The cases he examines lead him to argue that copyright performs a range of political, emotional, and even sacred functions that are too often ignored.

In making its announcement, the MLA’s selection committee noted that: ““The dazzlingly wide-ranging and engaging study about the relations between literature and law traces how copyright has come to be implicated in the circuits of imperial governance and has served to connect literary appreciation to the work of mourning. Grounded in rigorous historical research, this study also speaks pointedly and eloquently to contemporary concerns about the erosion of the public domain and public culture."

Established in 1883, the MLA is one of the oldest and largest American learned societies in the humanities with more than 30,000 members. Its First Book prize is awarded annually for the first, book-length publication by a member, a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work or a critical biography. The prize, which is being awarded for works from 2003, will be presented at the organization’s annual meeting on December 28, in Philadelphia.

Saint-Amour latest book project is titled Archive, Bomb, Camera: Modernism in the Shadow of Total War, about the bombing of cities during the twentieth-century and how the reconfiguration of the city as target registers in literary texts. In addition, he has had articles published in Comparative Literature Studies, Diacritics and Nineteenth-Century Literature, among other scholarly journals and books.

A member of the Pomona College faculty since 1997, Saint-Amour teaches courses on Victorian, modern British, and Irish fiction, history and theory of the novel, and postcolonial literature and theory. In 2000, he received a Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching by a vote of the Pomona junior and senior classes. In the same year, he was awarded a junior fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Society of the Humanities at Cornell University. Saint-Amour received his B.A. from Yale and his Ph.D., in English, from Stanford University.

Recent previous winners of the First Book prize have included: Paul Downes (University of Toronto) for Democracy, Revolution, and Monarchism in Early American Literature, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002; Priya Joshi (University of California, Berkeley) for In Another Country: Colonialism, Culture, and the English Novel in India, Columbia Univ. Press, 2002; and Bruce W. Holsinger (University of Colorado, Boulder) for Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture: Hildegard of Bingen to Chaucer, Stanford Univ. Press, 2001.

The MLA promotes the advancement of literary and linguistic studies. Its members come from all fifty states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. PMLA, the flagship journal of the association, has published distinguished scholarly articles for over one hundred years.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.