Bill Cohen Named Honorable Mention for Donald Gray Prize

August 19, 2015

Congratulations to Bill Cohen on his Honorable Mention for the Donald Gray Prize for his essay, "Arborealities: The Tacticle Ecology of Hardy's Woodlanders." The Donald Gray Prize is awarded to the best essay published in the field of Victorian Studies.

CohenCohen's essay appeared in an issue titled, "The Victorian Tactile Imagination," of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.

According to the North American Victorian Studies Association's (NAVSA) press release, "His article asks “what consequences two recent movements in scholarship—affect theory and environmental studies—might have for understanding the Victorian tactile imagination. Thomas Hardy's 1887 novel The Woodlanders provides a means of addressing this question, for it shares with posthumanist critics a view that people are material things in a world of things, and that the world is itself a collection of vital agencies and networked actors. Hardy shows how a tactile modality provides a point of entry into discussions of both affect and ecology, situating the human in a proximate, contiguous relation to both bodily and environmental materialities. The Woodlanders offers a world in which trees, in particular, work on -- and are in turn worked on by -- human objects; a world in which, one might say, the trees are people and the people are trees. This arboreality is far from a sentimental oneness with nature, nor is it an exercise in anthropomorphization. Instead, it provides a recognition of the inhuman, material, and sensate aspects of the human; or, perhaps better, of the human as rooted, budding, leafy, and abloom. Like some recent theoretical accounts, The Woodlanders disperses agency among human and non-human elements alike, employing a tactile mode of representation to break down distinctions between them.”