Fordham PhD Wins Prestigious Prize in Literary Criticism

Kathy Knapp, who received her PhD from Fordham’s English Department in 2007, has been awarded the Andrew J. Kappel Prize in Literary Criticism for her essay “The Business of Forgetting: Postwar Living Memorials and the Post-Traumatic Suburb in Chang-rae Lee’s Aloft.” Knapp is currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, as well as the Director of the Litchfield County Writers Project.

Twentieth-Century Literature, a journal of literary criticism, awards the prize each year to the author of an essay deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the study of 20th century literature. The journal’s editorial board chooses candidates, and each year a prominent literary critic makes the final decision. This year’s judge was Houston Baker, Distinguished University Professor of English and African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. His most recent books include: Turning South Again, I Don’t Hate the South and Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era. Baker has served as President of the Modern Language Association and editor of American Literature.

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Professor Baker refers in his comments on the essay to Knapp’s “capacious and original analyses” of Chang-rae Lee’s novel, concluding that “the intellectual achievement of “The Business of Forgetting: Postwar Living Memorials and the Post-Traumatic Suburb in Chang-rae Lee’s Aloft” is a model of reading beyond the taunts of snarky journalistic criticism and inept canonical comparisons. It is a bright and shining exemplar of deft critical excavation. One can only exclaim, Bravo!”

We in the Fordham English department can only echo Professor Baker: Bravo!