Created in 1995 to honor the memory of Laurence Wylie, Professor of French Civilization at Harvard University, the Laurence Wylie Prize in French and Francophone Studies is awarded every second year to the best book in French and Francophone cultural or social studies. Since 2017, the Wylie Prize has been administered by the faculty of NYU’s Institute of French Studies.
Nominated books must be scholarly essays dealing with the societies and cultures of France or Francophone countries in the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, the Indian Ocean, South and Southeast Asia — concerning any historical period.
- Books may be written in English or French, and book authors may be of any nationality, but the author must reside in North America.
- While fiction and literary criticism are excluded, nominated books may combine literature with other disciplines.
- Authors at any stage of their career may submit books. All things being equal, however, the Prize Committee will give strong preference to scholars in the early years of their career.
The 2016-2017 Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies has been awarded to Professor Laura Kalba, Associate Professor of Art at Smith College, for her book
Color in the Age of Impressionism: Commerce, Technology, and Art (Penn State, 2017)
Selected from a pool of sixty nominated books, Color in the Age of Impressionism is a work of deep learning and considerable theoretical ambition. Truly interdisciplinary, strongly-argued, and elegantly-written, this book draws from multiple founts of expertise to trace the far-reaching repercussions of a new visual field around color in late nineteenth-century France. In so doing, Laura Kalba allows scholars to consider anew something they thought they knew (or perhaps had never truly noticed). She also outlines a new field of study around chromatics, at the intersection of technological innovation and class politics, of visual and commercial cultures, of modes of perception and aesthetic judgment. Whether analyzing artworks or tapping little-known archival sources, Laura Kalba shows conclusively that color made it possible to capture and also contain deep-seated social and political changes.
Honorable mentions were given to the following books:
Darcie Fontaine, Decolonizing Christianity: Religion and the End of Empire in France and Algeria (Cambridge, 2016)
Graham Jones, Magic’s Reason: An Anthropology of Analogy (Chicago, 2017)
Rebecca Scales, Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921–1939 (Cambridge, 2016)
Since 2017, the Wylie Prize has been administered by the faculty of NYU’s Institute of French Studies. The members of this year's Prize committee were Charly Coleman (Columbia/History), Tom Conley (Harvard/French), Camille Robcis (Cornell/History), and Stéphane Gerson (NYU/French Studies; non-voting chair).
The call for nominations for the next Wylie Prize will go out in late 2019. Books published in 2018 and 2019 will be eligible.
Click on this link for a list of past prize winners.
For further inquiries, please contact the committee chair, Stéphane Gerson (firstname.lastname@example.org).