Announcing Winner of 2017 Tobin Siebers Prize

by Kathryn Beaton on January 10, 2018

The University of Michigan Press is pleased to announce that the 2017 Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities has been awarded to Elizabeth B. Bearden for her book manuscript Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability.

Dr. Bearden lives in Madison, Wisconson, where she is a Professor of English at UW-Madison. She earned her Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from New York University in 2006. Her first book, published in 2012 by the University of Toronto Press, is The Emblematics of the Self: Ekphrasis and Identity in Renaissance Imitations of Greek Romance.

In her manuscript, Bearden elucidates how Renaissance writers used monstrosity to imagine what we now call disability, and it puts monstrosity into dialogue with the way we theorize disability today. Cicero reminds us that the word monster derives from the Latin noun monstrum, meaning portent or omen, and the verb monstrare, meaning to show or teach (De divinatione 1:42). Bearden contends that monstrosity, as a precursor to modern concepts of disability, portends, shows, and teaches us much about our tendency to inscribe disability with meaning.

Dr. Bearden’s winning manuscript will be published in the Corporealities: Discourses of Disability series. The author will also receive a cash prize of $1,500.  Last year’s winner was Shelley L. Tremain for her manuscript Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability.


About the Tobin Siebers Prize

The late Tobin Siebers was a University of Michigan professor of English, co-chair of the university’s Initiative on Disability Studies, and author of many influential books and articles. His colleague Petra Kuppers, remarking on his influence, commented, “His legacy lives on in his nourishing critical perspective, his passion and presence, and it will continue to thrive and grow in the thoughts his writings allow us to spin out.”

To honor this legacy, the University of Michigan Press and the University of Michigan Department of English Language and Literature established The Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies in the Humanities for best book-length manuscript on a topic of pressing urgency in this field. Reflecting the work of the scholar the prize commemorates, the competition invites submissions on a wide range of topics, from literary and cultural studies, to trans-historical research, to contributions to disability theory such as work in crip/queer studies.

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