Archive for October, 2020

Announcing the 2021 Perkins Prize Winner

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

It is our utmost pleasure to inform the Society that the prize committee, consisting of Catherine Belling, Kent Puckett & Maria Mäkelä has chosen Yogita Goyal’s book Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery (NYU Press) for the Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Award. Altogether 23 titles were nominated among the books published in 2019. The prize recognizes the book that makes the most significant contribution to the study of narrative:


Why Runaway Genres?

Powerfully argued, beautifully written, and utterly timely, Yogita Goyal’s Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery offers a new and crucial contribution to narrative theory.  Part of its considerable achievement comes from its understanding of the slave narrative not only as an object of study but also as a term of critical art.  Because, in other words, it takes the slave narrative as a portable, instrumental, and resistant narrative form, it offers new ways of thinking about what narrative theory, narratology, and the analysis of narrative genres can tell us about the relation between race, history, and aesthetics.  “Race,” she writes, “has always been entangled with form.”  More than that, Goyal’s treatment of the “global proliferation of the slave narrative” as a way to think through “increasing large-scale migration, the ongoing appeal of sentimentalism to narrate trauma, and a historical tendency to see current events as repetitions of the past” helps us not only to understand the place of politically charged narratives in history or the way that history relies on narrative forms but also to realize how narrative theory as narrative theory can emerge as a vital and urgently comparative contribution to social, political, and historical thinking.  At a moment when many are thinking about how to balance the coherence and considerable critical power of narrative theory with the need to address the ideas, the forms, and the narratives that underwrite the difficult history of the present, Runaway Genres offers new directions for the analysis of narrative while also helping to remind us of the potential narrative theory always had to see, to understand, and, at key moments, to resist both the world as it is and the stories on which that world sometimes relies.


The award ceremony will take place at our online conference on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

On behalf of the ISSN Executive Council and the Perkins Prize Committee,

Maria Mäkelä

Past President, ISSN

Chair of the Perkins Prize Committee