Margaret Church Award

Exciting news! I recently learned that my essay on Sylvia Plath received the Margaret Church Award for the best article published in Modern Fiction Studies in 2014. The essay is entitled “Paraliterarly Labors in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: Typists, Teachers, and the Pink-Collar Subtext,” and it appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Modern Fiction Studies

Hamilton Carroll, a professor of English at the University of Leeds, justified the conferral of the award by writing a generous review of my essay. Here’s a brief excerpt from Carroll’s review:

Adam T. Jernigan’s wonderful essay, “Paraliterary Labors in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar: Typists, Teachers, and the Pink-Collar Subtext,” asks us to pay new attention to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar by situating it in the context of mid-century labor transformations and attendant gender recalibrations. Jernigan argues that Plath’s focus on the forms of labor available to college-educated women at mid-century not only represents but also intervenes in debates about the gendered division of labor, or “occupational segmentation,” that arose in the newly-developing world of corporate work. […] The essay is clear and lucid, intelligent and convincing, beautifully written and eminently readable. The essay wears its critical ambitions lightly yet persuades the reader at every turn; it is a joy to read and informative in both its close textual analysis and its historical/social context.

Needless to say, I was more than a little surprised — and deeply humbled — to learn that my essay had received this award. If any merit can be found in the essay, it is attributable to the many colleagues, referees, and editors who provided feedback on early drafts. So I’d like to thank everyone pushed me to rethink and revise parts of the essay. I would also like to express my gratitude to Hamilton Carroll for his charitable review!

The Margaret Church Award was established in memory of Dr. Margaret Church, a professor of English at Purdue University and a longtime editor of Modern Fiction Studies.


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