SoFCB Essay Prize

The Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) is pleased to announce its annual Essay Prize for 2021, 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 $250 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 2019 or 2020 are eligible for the 2021 prize. 

Deadline for submission: 1 February 2021. 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 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 a more accessible, inclusive, and diverse context for the study of the material text. See the SoFCB webpage or the SoFCB Junior Fellows Program page 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

  • Elizabeth Yale, chair (Lecturer, Department of History, University of Iowa and Instructor, University of Iowa Center for the Book)
  • Steffi Dippold (Assistant Professor of English, Kansas State University)
  • Brenna Wynn Greer (Associate Professor of History, Wellesley College)
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  • 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. 259-276.

      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): 259-288.
      • 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 42.3 (2018): 451-472.