Newswise — New York University has awarded the Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama or Theater for 2016-17 to Stanford University’s Branislav Jakovljevic for his Alienation Effects: Performance and Self-Management in Yugoslavia 1945-91 (University of Michigan Press). 

The Callaway Prize is awarded biennially by NYU’s Department of English.

The three-member panel of judges, chaired by Una Chaudhuri, professor of English and Drama at NYU, characterized it as an extraordinarily original work that intervenes decisively in established accounts of political theatre by rigorously attending to the fate of a specific ideology—Yugoslavia’s self-management—as it shaped a remarkably varied performance landscape.

“Written in clear and reflective prose, the work wears its considerable learning lightly, and offers many deeply engrossing analyses, including one of a 1954 secret performance of Waiting for Godot, that will undoubtedly shape theatrical criticism in the years ahead,” says William Worthen, professor of English at Columbia and one of this year’s judges.  

A second judge, Douglas A. Jones, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, adds: “Archivally bountiful, methodologically innovative, and theoretically ingenious, Branislav Jakovljevic’s  Alienation Effects models new and productive ways to conceptualize the relationship between art and politics that avoid the easy and often trite ways in which scholars often do so—all the while positioning itself to become the foundational text in the historiography of Eastern European performance cultures of the second half of the twentieth century.”

The panel awarded Honorable Mentions to two books: 

  • Anti-Theatricality and the Body Public (University of Pennsylvania Press) by Professor Lisa A. Freeman of the University of Illinois at Chicago, which the judges characterized as an ambitiously wide-ranging and meticulously researched inquiry into one of theatre history's enduring topics, yielding fresh insights into the ways public culture conducts its most complex ideological negotiations on the terrain of theatrical activity.
  • Black Movements: Performance and Cultural Politics (Rutgers University Press) by Professor Soyica Diggs Colbert of Georgetown University, which the judges found to be an innovative work of performance history, skillfully revealing the trans-historical life of Black performance across many genres and offering dazzling readings of specific moments, gestures, and events in which African-American artists have engaged the historical past to map coherent Black narratives for the present and the future.  

The Callaway Prize is awarded by NYU’s Department of English for the best book on drama or theater published during the previous two years by an American author. It carries a cash award of $9,000. The winning volume is part of MacMillan’s “Studies in International Performance” book series. 

This year’s entries included distinguished works on dramatic literature, performance theory, and theatre history. 

The Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama was established in 1990 by Joe A. Callaway, an actor, drama lecturer, and supporter of theatrical causes.


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