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English Professor Jerome McGann Is Honored With MLA Book Prize And Mellon National Distinguished Achievement Award Providing Up To $1.5 Million To U.Va.

December 2, 2002-- University of Virginia English professor Jerome McGann is one of five U.S. scholars to be honored with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s second annual Distinguished Achievement Award in the humanities. The award, for significant contributions to teaching and research, is for up to $1.5 million to strengthen the University’s humanities scholarship and teaching through programs McGann is affiliated with.

An authority on 19th- and 20th-century literature and culture and a leader in using computers for expanding traditional methods of scholarship, McGann has also been awarded
the Modern Language Association’s prestigious James Russell Lowell Prize for his book “Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web,” published by Palgrave Press. The prize is awarded annually for the most outstanding literary study by a member of the association.

The three-year Mellon grant will be used to develop a pair of digital instruments that enhance the critical study of traditional humanities material. “Ivanhoe” is an interpretive game-space for a group of students or scholars; and “The Patacritical Demon” is an experimental environment for modeling and tracking emergent interpretations of complex textual fields such as poems. McGann has been developing these projects with a team of colleagues and graduate students from Arts & Sciences.

“Among the most important literary scholars of recent decades, Professor McGann has had a major impact on humanistic scholarship in his own field and others,” the award noted. “In numerous monographs, essays and scholarly editions, his work has covered a range that includes the Romantic-era writers, Victorian literature, Modernism, the language poets and women’s poetry. He has also made significant contributions to literary theory and the understanding and practice of textual scholarship.”

Among his pioneering work in digital humanities, the foundation cited McGann’s "The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Hypermedia Research Archive."
The massive electronic archive allows scholars and students to trace the Victorian author and artist’s work from manuscripts into print, and to view his drawings and paintings, read scholarly studies or use search engines for new research. It was developed through U.Va.’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, which McGann co-founded.

Earlier this year, McGann was named the first recipient of a $25,000 National Humanities Center award for the use of computers to expand traditional notions of humanities scholarship and teaching. He has written extensively on computing in the humanities, most recently in “Radiant Textuality.”

The Mellon Distinguished Achievement awards are designed to honor individuals and to recognize the interdependence of scholars and their institutions. The grants themselves support specific programs.

Other 2002 Mellon winners, selected through an intensive process by a panel of scholars, are Michael Cook, professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University; Sheila Fitzpatrick, professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago; Michael McCormick, professor of medieval history at Harvard University; and Susan Wolf, professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina.

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (434) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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