CSSOne of the particular features of working in the academic environment is that individual scholars’ contributions to their fields’ bodies of knowledge are often recognized directly via various kinds of “best publication” awards – usually a combination of an actual cash award, of course recognition, and, perhaps most importantly, a line on the CV!

This practice is common across disciplines and subject areas. In 2011, for example, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations presented its Stuart L. Bernath Scholarly Article Prize – “$1,000…awarded annually to the author of a distinguished article appearing in a scholarly journal or edited book, on any topic in United States foreign relations”, to Andrew McKevitt, for his article “You are not alone!”: Anime and the globalizing of America.

Similarly, in 2012, the Society of Animation Studies announced the recipient of that year’s Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambart Award – Best Scholarly Article in Animation – Marco Bellano, for “The parts and the whole: Audiovisual strategies in the cinema of Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi”, Animation Journal, 18, 4-55, And, in 2015, the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association recognized Amanda Kennell with its William E. Brigman Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper in Popular Culture for “Origin and ownership from ballet to anime” – as is frequent with papers presented at academic conferences, a revised version was then published in a leading journal. In fact, the very concept of conferring awards can be thought of as a major service that any academic society or organization provides to its subject area or field, and one of the factors that can contribute to the acceptance or legitimization of that field.

So, with this in mind, it is really exciting to learn that the recently-founded Comics Studies Society is now – for the first time – accepting nominations for four different prizes/awards:

  • The CSS Article Prize “recognizes scholarly journal articles and anthology chapters that significantly advance the field of Comics Studies – that is, articles or essays that greatly add to our understanding of comic art and/or its historical, cultural, critical, or theoretical contexts.”
  • Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship “acknowledges the best public scholarship in Comics Studies from the previous year, published online or in non-academic periodical formats.”
  • Comics Studies Society Book Prize – “recognizes scholarly books that significantly advance the field of Comics Studies – that is, books that greatly add to our understanding of comic art and/or its historical, cultural, critical, or theoretical contexts.”
  • The Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation

The CSS welcomes both peer nominations and self-nominations, subject to specific conditions. Any publication or presentation that is nominated for the 2018 prize must have a 2017 copyright date or must have been presented in 2017, and “reprints of or excerpts from previously published works are not eligible for prizes.” Beyond that, the operating definition that is used to establish eligibility is relatively wide – although it does not mention manga specifically:

“all forms of cartooning, sequential art, and graphic narrative: comic strips, comic books, papers, and magazines; albums, graphic novels, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions.”

The winner of each of the prizes will receive a $300 cash award, a plaque, and an invitation to attend the Society’s 1st Annual Conference (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 9-11) and participate in the conference’s program.

Additional information about the nomination criteria/conditions and the mechanics of the nomination process is available on the CSS website. The deadline for submissions is currently set for February 1.

So, if you have an article, “work of public scholarship”, book, or graduate student conference presentation on manga (and, based on the CSS’s criteria for the awards, anime) that you thought deserves formal recognition of this kind – you are welcome to nominate it for the appropriate award!

And, of course, in due time, congratulations to all the winners!

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