Each year at Congress, ACCUTE announces the winner of the F.E.L. Priestley Prize, which recognizes and acknowledges the best essay published in our scholarly journal English Studies in Canada over the past year. This year’s winner (as announced in our Summer 2015 Newsletter) is Melissa Haynes, for her essay, “Regulating Abjection: Disgust, Tolerance, and the Politics of The Cove.”
This year’s Priestley Prize committee consisted of Laura Robinson (RMC), Stephen Ahern (Acadia), and Lisa Surridge as Chair (Victoria). They write that Melissa Haynes’ article
“draws on the insights of recent affect theory to build a nuanced and eloquent critique of the discursive manipulations and political consequences of the anti-dolphin-hunt film The Cove. The author builds a tightly argued reading of the film’s deployment of the performance of emotion, teasing out the implications of scenes that beckon the viewer to form opinions based not on rational assessment but on gut reaction. Of interest to many readers would be the author’s application of current thinking on the difficult topics of mediated emotion, on disgust and abjection, and on the incipient governmentality of tolerance thinking. Most impressive is the measured way in which the author presents the film as a case study in the unstable uses of emotion for political ends, showing how in the process of raising sympathy for one group (the dolphins) the film stimulates responses of fear based in racist otherizing for another group (the fishermen). The article’s conclusions on the political uses of disgust lingered in the committee members’ minds and promised impact beyond the film and animal studies purview. Vividly written and engaging from the first words, the article explores important and complex theoretical ideas while remaining accessible, clear, and interesting to a general scholarly audience.”
Congratulations to Melissa! And thanks to our committee for their excellent work. You can download a pdf of the award-winning essay at the ling above. And don’t forget you can explore the range of ESC articles, including past Priestley winners, through Project Muse and through the University of Alberta libraries journals collection.