Announcing the 2020 American Literature Society Awards

Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in American Literary Studies

Cheryl Wall (1948-2020), Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English, Rutgers University. Professor Wall, a groundbreaking Black feminist critic, was editor of the landmark volume, Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women (1989), and published extensively on Black women’s writing, Zora Neale Hurston in particular. Worrying the Line: Black Women Writers, Lineage, and Literary Tradition (2005) is a brilliant and foundational account of 20c African American literary criticism, and On Freedom and the Will to Adorn: The Art of the African American Essay (2019) provides an essential account of the African American essay.Her writing, teaching, and mentoring helped shape generations of scholars. Professor Wall taught at Rutgers for nearly 50 years. She is survived by her daughter, Camara Epps.

Professor Herman Beavers will present the award in honor of Professor Wall to Camara Epps during our “American Literature at One Hundred” Panel, Thursday, 7 January 2021, 10:15 AM – 11:30 AM. The award will also be announced during the MLA Awards Ceremony on Saturday, 9 January 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Hubbell Medal Committee (2020):
Jay Watson (chair), University of Mississippi
Elizabeth Dillon, Northeastern University
Rodrigo Lazo, University of California, Irvine
Herman Beavers, University of Pennsylvania
Leslie Bow, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Previous Hubbell Medal Winners

1921 Award for Best Essay(s) in American Literature for essays published in 2020

Graduate Students, Scholars in Contingent Positions, and Untenured Category
Winner: Ajay Kumar Batra,”Reading with Conviction: Abraham Johnstone and the Poetics of the Dead End.” Early American Literature, vol. 55 no. 2, 2020, p. 331-354. doi:10.1353/eal.2020.0052.

Honorable Mention: Mike Taylor and Terence Wride, “‘Indian Kids Can’t Write Sonnets’: Re-membering the Poetry of Henry Tinhorn from the Intermountain Indian School.” American Quarterly, vol. 72 no. 1, 2020, p. 25-53. doi:10.1353/aq.2020.0002. 

Tenured Category
Winner: Sari Altschuler, Associate Professor of English at Northeastern University “Touching the Scarlet Letter: What Disability History Can Teach Us About Literature.” American Literature 1 March 2020; 92 (1): 91–122. doi:


Sarah E. Chinn, “Enslavement and the Temporality of Childhood.” American Literature 1 March 2020; 92 (1): 33–59. doi:

The 1921 Award Committee 
Helane Androne, Miami University, Regionals (chair)
Brigitte Fielder, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Gordon Fraser, University of Manchester
Mark Jerng, University of California, Davis
Claudia Stokes, Trinity University

Previous 1921 Award Winners