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Northwestern University

Shannon Wins Dietz Memorial Award

The English professor is honored for her book "The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales"

Laurie Shannon, the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English Literature, has been named the winner of the Elizabeth Dietz Memorial Award for her book The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales.

The award recognizes the best recent book in either English Renaissance studies or Tudor and Stuart drama. Shannon’s book was chosen out of 180 publications under consideration for the honor.

In singling out Shannon’s book, the judges praised the work as “ambitious, exciting and often moving.” One judge notes that Shannon, “who has expertise as both a lawyer and a literary critic, shows numerous ways in which early modern animals could be imagined as part of a broader legal and political ‘cosmopolity’ in which relations between humans and animals could be seen as something more closely resembling a continuum than an absolute dichotomy.”

Added another: “She never lets us as moderners forget our Cartesian inheritance in an oppositional way of thinking that has justified an ‘out-of-sight,’ sequestered experimentation and slaughter of animals so as to avoid confronting by close proximity what many early moderners recognized as a fact of life: that humans were interconnected with all kinds of animals in a broad community of creatures that shared affective, social, and legal bonds.”

The prize is administered by the quarterly journal SEL, which features scholarly articles on English literature.

Shannon said she was “thunderstruck” by the news of the award. “SEL’s commitment to English literature between 1500 and 1900 and its signature comprehensive reviews of research have established it as a crucial journal for our discipline,” she said.

Shannon joined the Northwestern faculty in 2008. She served as chair of the Department of English from 2012 to 2015 and will do so again from 2016 to 2019. Previously she taught at Duke University, where she was awarded the Robert B. Cox Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award and The Dean’s Award for Graduate Mentoring.

Shannon is also the author of Sovereign Amity: Figures of Friendship in Shakespearean Contexts (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and is working on an edition of John Caius’s 1576 text, Of English Dogges, the first extensive analysis of the treatment of dogs to be printed in English. She is also working on a new project titled Hamlet’s Kindness: A Natural History of Human Being circa 1600, which returns to the question of humanity in its frailer and defrocked form, reconsidering it in the light of a species-comparative, ecosystemic perspective.

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