Department of English

Meta Jones receives Honorable Mention for the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize

Tue, December 11, 2012
Meta Jones receives Honorable Mention for the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize
Meta Jones and the book cover for 'The Muse is Music'

The Department of English congratulates Associate Professor Meta DuEwa Jones for receiving honorable mention from the Modern Language Association (MLA) William Sanders Scarborough Prize for her book The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word

The citation for the honorable mention describes Jones’ work:

“In a boldly written formal analysis of poetry and performance from the writings of Harlem Renaissance luminaries to the works of contemporary word artists, Meta DuEwa Jones relates African American poetics to histories of popular music and performance practices. The Muse Is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word places a broad variety of poets and performers in juxtaposition and in conversation. Incorporating gender and sexuality studies into the analysis of jazz poetics and performances, Jones explores gender subversion and queering in a tradition that is more typically read as masculine. Within this powerful tracing of interactive literary and musical traditions, Jones succeeds in expanding ways of understanding the innovativeness of African American poetry and in making a substantial contribution to literary, performance, and cultural studies.”

The association first established the prize in 2001, naming it after the first African American member of the MLA.  Interested in classical philology and linguistics with an emphasis on Negro dialects, William Sanders Scarborough dedicated his life to the study of language and literature.  He received an MA from Oberlin College, taught Latin and Greek at Wilberforce University, and eventually served as president of the same university from 1908 through 1920.  Every year, the prize that bears his name is granted to scholars who demonstrate “outstanding scholarly study of African American literature or culture.”  This year, Stephanie Leigh Batiste of the University of California, Santa Barbara was named as the 11th annual winner for Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression-Era African American Performance.

Meta DuEwa Jones is an Associate Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies here at the University of Texas.  She has served as co-director of the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) and has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Woodrow Wilson, and Mellon Foundations.  Currently, she is working on a book-length manuscript that explores the relationship between text and visual art in the works of poets like Natasha Trethewey and artists like Glenn Ligon.  She is also working on an essay on form and politics in James Baldwin’s poetics in addition to writing a chapbook of poems titled “Timbrel and Harp,” which focuses on the life and music of Alice Coltraine.

More information about the book for which Jones received honorable mention can be found here.

More information about MLA publication prize-winners 2012 competitions can be found here.

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