Douglas Pfeiffer Book Honored by Modern Language Association of America

Douglas Pfeiffer, associate professor in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, recently received an honorable mention from the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) for his book, Authorial Personality and the Making of Renaissance Texts: The Force of Character.


The MLA announced Pfeiffer’s distinction through a news release announcing the 2023 MLA Prize for a First Book, which was awarded to Vanderbilt University’s Akshya Saxena.

According to the MLA, this annual award honors an exceptional scholarly work authored by one of the association’s 20,000 global members and published the previous year as their first book-length text. Eligible works include literary or linguistic studies, critical editions of important texts, and critical biographies. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the award.

“I feel extremely gratified and proud to see a project that I’ve been following since its early stages get recognized as a major contribution not only to Professor Pfeiffer’s field of early modern studies, but to the general field of literary scholarship,” said Andrew Newman, professor and chair of the Department of English. “Anyone who reads it will come away with a much richer understanding of authorship.”

In addition, Pfeiffer’s book was also recently awarded the Roland Bainton Prize by the Sixteenth Century Society, which recognized its quality/originality of research, methodological skill and/or innovation, development of fresh and stimulating interpretations or insights, and the book’s literary quality.

Pfeiffer is an expert on the history of rhetorical and literary theory, Renaissance humanism, and English poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A former professor at the University of California, Irvine, he joined the faculty at Stony Brook in 2007 and went on to receive a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching in 2022. He holds a PhD from Columbia University.

The MLA announcement cites Pfeiffer’s book as “a tremendous achievement. In this substantial volume,” it continues, “Pfeiffer traces the phenomenon of author centrism to the scholarship of early Renaissance humanists. Focusing on several well-chosen case studies, this deeply researched multilingual monograph brings welcome new interpretations and insights not only to Renaissance studies but to literary studies more broadly.”

The Prize for a First Book, along with 21 additional MLA awards, was presented at the association’s annual convention in Philadelphia on January 5.

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