SoFCB Essay Prize

The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) is pleased to announce its annual Essay Prize for 2024, to be awarded to a scholarly article that exemplifies the Society’s mission of advancing the study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects through capacious, interdisciplinary scholarship. The $500 prize seeks to recognize innovative scholarship that brings together multiple fields of study and that strives to be accessible to the bibliographical community at large. The previous year’s winner and honorable mentions can be found below.

Articles published in any format (journal, edited collection, book chapter, digital platform), in any field, and of any time period are eligible for consideration. The study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects should be integral to the essay’s argument and the evidence upon which it relies. The prize is open to academic researchers and teachers at all career stages, as well as librarians, curators, and independent scholars. Self-nominations are encouraged. Current and former members of the SoFCB and Rare Book School full-time staff are ineligible for the prize.

Articles with a publication date of 2022 or 2023 are eligible for the 2024 prize. Articles submitted for the 2023 prize competition are not eligible for the 2024 competition.

Deadline for submission: 1 March 2024. Articles may be sent as a PDF attachment to In your message, please provide preferred contact details for the author(s) of the essay and include an abstract (no more than 250 words) outlining the essay’s original contribution to the study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects. Limit one submission per author.

The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) was formed in 2017 as a program of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. Our members seek to integrate methods of critical bibliography into our teaching and research; to foster collegial conversations about historical and emerging media across disciplines and institutions; and to share our knowledge with broader publics. We are committed to creating more accessible, inclusive, and diverse contexts for the study of the material text. See the SoFCB webpage or the SoFCB Junior Fellows Program webpage for more information.

The essay prize has been underwritten by Kimball Higgs, a supporter of Rare Book School and a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Library Service.

Essay Prize Committee

  • Devin Fitzgerald, chair (Lecturer, Yale University)
  • András Kiséry (Associate Professor of English, City College of New York)
  • Alex Hidalgo (Associate Professor of Latin American History, Texas Christian University)
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  • 2023 Essay Prize

    • 2023 Winner

      • Cassidy Holahan,“Rummaging in the Dark: ECCO as Opaque Digital Archive.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 54, no. 4 (2021): 803–26.

      2023 Honorable Mentions

      • Matthew D. C. Larsen, “The Real-and-Imagined Biography of a Gospel Manuscript.” Early Christianity 12, no. 1 (2021): 103–31.
      • William Stroebel, “Longhand Lines of Flight: Cataloging Displacement in a Karamanli Refugee’s Commonplace Book.” PMLA 136, no. 2 (2021): 190–212.
  • 2022 Essay Prize

    • 2022 Winner

      • David R. Como, “Printing the Levellers: Clandestine Print, Radical Propaganda, and the New Model Army,” The Library 22, no. 4 (December 2021): 441–86.

      2022 Honorable Mentions

      • Alex W. Black, “‘A New Enterprise in Our History’: William Still, Conductor of The Underground Rail Road (1872),” American Literary History 32, no. 4 (Winter 2020): 668–90.
      • Nachiket Chanchani, “The Time Machines of Eighteenth-Century Mewar,” Archives of Asian Art 71, no. 2 (October 2001): 219–41.
  • 2021 Essay Prize

    • 2021 Winner

      • Elizabeth Neswald, “Things That Don’t Talk Much and Things That Feel: Developing a Material Culture Methodology for ‘Black Box’ Medical Devices,” Nuncius 35 (2020): 632–59.

      2021 Honorable Mentions

      • Cat Lambert, “The Ancient Entomological Bookworm,” Arethusa 53, no. 1 (Winter 2020): 1–24.
      • Christopher N. Warren, Pierce Williams, Shruti Rijhwani, and Max G’Sell, “Damaged Type and Areopagitca’s Clandestine Printers,” Milton Studies 62, no. 1 (March 2020): 1–47.
  • 2020 Essay Prize

    • 2020 Winner

      • Michaël Roy, “The Slave Narrative Unbound,” in Brigitte Fielder and Jonathan Senchyne (eds), Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African American Print, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2019, p. 259–76.

      2020 Honorable Mentions

      • Melissa Reynolds, “‘Here Is a Good Boke to Lerne’: Practical Books, the Coming of the Press, and the Search for Knowledge, ca. 1400–1560,” Journal of British Studies 58.2 (April 2019): 259–88.
      • Nora C. Benedict, “Books about Books and Books as Material Artifacts: Metabibliography in Jorge Luis Borges’s El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (1941),” Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 42, no. 3 (2018): 451–72.