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MLA’S Scaglione Prize for African Studies Awarded to Belinda Edmondson

Belinda Edmondson
Photo: Isaac Jimenez

December 6, 2023 

The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its first annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for African Studies to Belinda Edmondson, Distinguished Professor in the Departments of English and Africana Studies at Rutgers University-Newark, for her book Creole Noise: Early Caribbean Dialect, Literature, and Performance, published by Oxford University Press. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in African or African diaspora literary or linguistic studies.

The Scaglione Prize for African Studies is one of twenty-two awards that will be presented on 5 January 2024 during the association’s annual convention, to be held in Philadelphia. The members of the selection committee were Simon Gikandi (Princeton Univ.), chair; Ato Quayson (Stanford Univ.); and Phyllis Taoua (Univ. of Arizona, Tucson). The committee’s citation for Edmondson’s book reads:

"Belinda Edmondson’s Creole Noise: Early Caribbean Dialect, Literature, and Performance offers a powerful and compelling genealogy of the relationship between noise and dialect in Caribbean literature and complicates the traditional binarism between the blackness of orality and the whiteness of literary narrative. Focusing on the culture, currency, and politics of Creole and its long history, Edmondson provides a captivating story of the language at various sites of contestation between classes, racial groups, and ethnicities and traces its diasporic crossing from Jamaica to Harlem. Superbly written, the book is also carefully calibrated. Edmondson demonstrates a mastery of the historical evolution of criticism in the field, and her astute balance of archival work, literary history, and interpretation stands out as an enthralling example of the power and scope of African diasporic scholarship at its best."

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