Press Release for the inaugural Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize


ALECC is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2016 Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize is Dr. Joshua Schuster of Western University for his book, The Ecology of Modernism: American Environments and Avant-Garde Poetics (University of Alabama Press). The jury read many excellent books before deciding on a winner and three honourable mentions.

In their assessments of Schuster’s work, the jury remarks:

“Joshua Schuster’s analysis of American modernism’s attentiveness to form and framing as part of a text’s environmental conditions is carefully constructed, crafted, and written. Focusing on four case studies – Moore’s animal fables, Stein’s ambient poetics, blues music, and John Cage’s work – Schuster moves beyond the temporality and the literary focus of the modernist canon and develops revelatory ecocritical readings of even some of the most obscure elements of American modernism.”

“What Joshua Schuster achieves in The Ecology of Modernism alters the field and freshly reorients Modernism for ecocriticism. It’s a beautifully written book that will inspire a whole range of new thinking.”

“Schuster manages the difficult trick of reinforcing the traditional reasons for reading modernist texts while illuminating new ways to teach them. By setting high-modernist works against less predictably modernist works, and by sensitively reading individual texts both for their materiality and for their self-conscious textuality, Schuster brings us a modernism more sensibly attuned to ambience, toxicity, and the petroleum century. More than that, The Ecology of Modernism is a pleasure to read, and therefore a book to be jealous at not having written oneself.”

The award was presented at ALECC’s biennial conference held June 15-18 at Queen’s University, and is accompanied by a $500 cash prize.

In addition to the winner, the jury also named three honourable mentions:


Liz Howard’s work of poetry, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (Random House)

The jury commented that this collection “sweeps the reader up in a world of nature-culture, urban-rural, and science-humanities. It refuses dualist thinking, reminding us that ‘the world has not ended,’ that life goes on without strictly defined boundaries, and that our best response may very well be to ‘stick with the trouble’ (Haraway). As Howard beautifully illustrates, poetry provides a ‘thinktent’ in which ‘a congress of selves, a vibrational chorus’ can come together to listen, share, and cry out.”


Adrian Ivakhiv’s Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature (Wilfrid Laurier University Press)

The jury observed that in this book, Ivakhiv “develops a collection of excellent pedagogical tools for analyzing films in terms of their social, ecological, and perceptual elements. Extremely well-researched with references ranging from independent films to Hollywood blockbusters, from contemporary philosophy to ecocritical theory, Ivakhiv’s book makes a strong mark on the green film studies landscape.”


Nancy J. Turner’s 2-volume work, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

According to the jury, Turner here “displays not only her own deep knowledge of human-plant relationships in northwestern North America through a lifetime of work in the field, but shows in detail how environmental knowledge derives from practices of ethnoecology where human knowledge of plants is acknowledged as part of a lived interrelationship that is passed on, applied, and passed on again through the generations.” The jury concluded, “this book just plain blew our minds.”

ALECC warmly congratulates all four finalists on their achievement. Thank you to all who submitted such excellent books for consideration.