Archive for November, 2020

Call for 2022 Booth Award Nominations

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As you know, each year the International Society for the Study of Narrative confers the Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the study of narrative over the course of a career. I am writing to invite members of ISSN to submit nominations for the 2022 winner of the Booth Award. Please send your nominations by November 30th, 2020 to: (use my private e-mail address instead of replying to the entire list, please).

Our next year’s president Lindsay Holmgren and first vice-president Erin James will collaborate with me on preparing a list of nominees, drawing on your recommendations. From this list, the ISSN Executive Council will identify three finalists. Past winners of the Booth Award and past presidents of the ISSN will then select an honoree from among these three.

The Society gave its first Lifetime Achievement Award to Wayne C. Booth in 2006. Subsequent honorees have been: Gérard Genette, Susan Stanford Friedman, Dorrit Cohn, Seymour Chatman, Gerald Prince, Hayden White, Tzvetan Todorov, Lubomir Doležel, Marie-Laure Ryan, Mieke Bal, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Susan Lanser and James Phelan. The 2022 Award will be formally presented at the ISSN Conference 2022.

You will find more information about the award at:

Thank you for helping us to identify outstanding candidates for the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award.

On behalf of the nominating committee,

Sylvie Patron

Announcing the winners of the 2020 ISSN Elections for Executive Council

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the 2020 ISSN Elections for Executive Council. Our ISSN ballot was populated by an extraordinary, talented, dedicated group of narrative scholars, and from that group these winners emerged:


Second Vice President:

Paul Dawson, University of New South Wales 


Executive Council members:

Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam University

Marta Figlerowicz, Yale University


Many thanks to our other candidates: Jesse Matz (Kenyon College), Stefan Iversen (Aarhus University), and Pedro Ponce (St. Lawrence University), whose willingness to stand for election is a great sign of the strength of the Society.  Special thanks to this year’s Nominating Committee: Lindsay Holmgren (McGill), chair;  Jan Alber (RWTH Aachen University); Dorothy Hale (Berkeley),  and Robyn Warhol (The Ohio State University), for bringing this outstanding slate of candidates before us.


Please join me in congratulating Paul, Alice, and Marta!



Jim Phelan, Distinguished University Professor and Editor of Narrative

Join us in congratulating the 2021 Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award Winner!

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

Dear members of the International Society for the Study of Narrative,

The Award Committee consisting of the Society’s President Sylvie Patron, Vice President Lindsay Holmgren and Past President Maria Mäkelä is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2021 Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award:

Distinguished Professor James Phelan, The Ohio State University

Phelan has devoted his scholarship to developing a comprehensive understanding of narrative as rhetoric, and his rhetorical poetics has become one of the most influential ways of thinking about narrative as a way of knowing and a way of doing. Starting with his famous definition of narrative as “somebody telling somebody else on some occasion and for some purpose(s) that something happened,” Phelan has, over the course of 10 authored or co-authored books and more than 175 articles, offered new ways of thinking about style, character, narrative progression, first-person narration (reliable and unreliable), and narrative ethics. This work also has led to insightful accounts of broader issues such as genre, authorial agency, the audiences of narrative, and fictionality. Among Phelan’s most important works are Reading People, Reading Plots (1989), Narrative as Rhetoric (1996), Living to Tell about It (2005), Experiencing Fiction (2007), and Somebody Telling Somebody Else (2017). In recent work, he has been contributing to the field of narrative medicine.

Phelan is also a willing collaborator, most recently in Debating Rhetorical Narratology (2020) with Matthew Clark. In addition, Phelan has collaborated significantly with Peter J. Rabinowitz on editorial projects (Understanding Narrative and the Blackwell Companion to Narrative Theory, and for twenty-five years, the book series on the Theory and Interpretation of Narrative at the Ohio State University Press) and in a contribution to Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates (2012), itself a larger collaboration with David Herman, Brian Richardson, and Robyn Warhol. Phelan has done other important collaborative writing or editing with Henrik Skov Nielsen, Richard Walsh, Brian McHale, Jakob Lothe, Jeremy Hawthorn, Susan R. Suleiman, Robert Scholes, David Richter, Gerald Graff, Faye Halpern, and Sarah Copland.

Phelan’s work as an editor is also extraordinary. He has edited or co-edited ten books on subjects ranging from holocaust narrative to teaching narrative theory. Since 1992, Phelan has edited Narrative, the journal of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, recently ranked #1 by Googlescholar in the category of “literature and writing.” He continues to co-edit the Theory and Interpretation of Narrative book series, now with Katra Byram and Faye Halpern. He is co-founder, along with Frederick Aldama, David Herman, and Brian McHale, and current director of “Project Narrative” at The Ohio State University, internationally recognized as the major center for narrative research in the world.

Phelan is the soul of the International Society for the Study of Narrative: he has served as the coordinator of its first annual conference in 1986, as President in 1989-90, and as Secretary-Treasurer since 2005. In his work with ISSN, he has been a key player in maintaining and developing the international network of narrative scholars. His work in narrative theory has been not only field-shaping, but of incomparable pedagogical value. Additionally, Phelan is a devoted mentor to junior narrative scholars, including those in interdisciplinary narratological arenas around the world.

As always, the shortlist for the Award was compiled by the Award Committee, in collaboration with the Society members and the Executive Council (this year without Jim Phelan). The previous Booth honorees and past presidents of the Society cast the final vote. We wish to thank all of you who sent nominations and took part in the voting!

The honorary panel and award ceremony will take place at our online conference on May 22, 2021 and will be available in perpetuity on our ISSN website ( for all current and future narrative scholars to learn from and celebrate. The panelists represent the scope and variety of Professor Phelan’s influence and his ability to establish lasting collaboration and mentorship within the field of narrative studies: we are delighted to hear from Peter Rabinowitz, Yonina Hoffman, Brian McHale, Robyn Warhol, and Henrik Skov Nielsen.

Please join us in congratulating Professor Phelan – now and next year in May!

Maria Mäkelä, Past President of ISSN, Chair of the Booth Award Committee

Sylvie Patron, President of ISSN

Lindsay Holmgren, Vice President of ISSN