Hazel Carby is recognized with prestigious award for her scholarship in American literary studies

Hazel V. Carby, the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies, is the 2014 recipient of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies.

The award is sponsored by the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association (MLA). Honorees are selected by a committee of five scholars who recognize the nominee’s scholarship and professional service to American literary studies. Carby will receive the medal during an awards ceremony at the Modern Language Association conference on Jan. 9, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. 

A professor of American studies and director of the Initiative on Race, Gender, and Globalization, Carby teaches courses on issues of race, gender, and sexuality through the culture and literature of the Caribbean and its diaspora; through transnational and postcolonial literature and theory; through representations of the black female body; and through the genres of science fiction. Carby’s books include “Reconstructing Womanhood,” “Race Men,” and “Cultures in Babylon.” She is in the final stages of completing another manuscript tentatively titled “Imperial Intimacies.”

“I am honored to be the 2014 recipient of the Jay B. Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies and delighted for the recognition of the important contribution of the fields of black Atlantic studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies to American literary culture,” said Carby.

“Whether chairing African American Studies towards achieving departmental status, creating research clusters to study the globalized formations of race and gender, or speaking out on behalf of workers who staff academic departments, Hazel is always creating spaces for American literary studies to do its work in a diverse world,” said Jacqueline Goldsby, professor of English and African American Studies and acting chair of the Department of African American Studies. “The MLA picked the right person to honor when it chose her for the Hubbell Prize.

“Two critical approaches that inform Hazel’s work — cultural and diaspora studies — have been key to effecting the ‘transnational turn’ in American literary scholarship not simply because she deploys them so deftly across the range of her essays and books, but because they are central principles of her teaching,” continued Goldsby. “Take a look at the roster of scholars she’s taught here at Yale and the impact that their dissertations and subsequent books have had on the field; it’s inspiring to realize how central the classroom has been to Hazel’s influence on U.S. literary studies’ development over the last 30 years.”

The Hubbell Medal, which has been awarded since 1964, is named for Jay B. Hubbell, the founding editor of the journal American Literature, the flagship journal in the field. A long-time professor at Duke University, Hubbell was one of the pioneers of American literary scholarship. He championed American authors as objects of attention at a time when academic studies of literature focused more extensively on English authors. The honor named for him has been awarded to some of the most distinguished practitioners of the discipline he helped create. 

“Remembering the history of Jay Hubbell, it is clear to me the Hubbell Prize recognizes scholars whose work is foundational to broadening what counts as ‘American’ literature. That is precisely what Hazel has done for more than 30 years of distinguished scholarship, teaching, and activism,” said Goldsby.

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Bess Connolly: elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu, 203-432-1324