Eric Earnhardt: 2014 Neil Macintyre Prize

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The winner of the 2014 Neil Macintyre Memorial Prize is Eric Earnhardt!

Congratulations go to Earnhardt, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, for his essay “‘the sentient plume’: Avian Minds and the Pathetic Fallacy in Arnold, Darwin, and Ruskin.”

Congratulations also to the two honorable mentions:
– Ray Horton, second-year Ph.D. student, for “‘Our pretense is a dedication’: Surface and Sacrament in White Noise
– Michelle Lyons-McFarland, third-year Ph.D. student, for “Trauma in Context: Hitchcock’s Spellbound as a Transitional War Film”

Please join the entire Department on Friday, December 5, 2014 in Clark 206 (the Baker-Nord Center) at 4:00 p.m. for a reception and at 4:30 p.m. for a presentation and celebration of the winning essay. See an abstract of Earnhardt’s presentation below.

“John Ruskin coined the term ‘pathetic fallacy’ in 1856 to describe the attribution of human emotional qualities to natural phenomena. Since then, many poets have rejected the device as a marker of Romantic sentimentality and of the weak-minded projection of one’s own subjectivity onto external objects. Recent movements in literary criticism, however, invite reconsideration of Ruskin’s terminology from ecological, cognitive, and posthumanist perspectives, while poets such as John Ashbery, Beverley Bie Brahic, and Marie Ponsot have thematized the device as a strategy for bridging the felt divide between mind and nature. This talk returns to Ruskin’s ‘On the Pathetic Fallacy’ through Matthew Arnold’s late elegy ‘Poor Matthias!’ and reconsiders both Ruskin’s essay and Arnold’s bird poem within the context of Charles Darwin’s anthropomorphic claim that animals, and birds in particular, share essential features of consciousness with humans. Such a revaluation of the pathetic fallacy challenges assumptions about the disclosures of anthropomorphism that reverberate in contemporary debates over the nature of consciousness, the potential of poetic language, and the status of the human.”

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