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Nicoletta Pireddu Wins Comparative Literature’s Most Prestigious Award

Nicoletta Pireddu’s book Migrating Minds: Theories and Practices of Cultural Cosmopolitanism has been awarded comparative literature’s most prestigious award: the René Wellek Prize. Conferred by the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), the prize recognizes outstanding books that “cross national, linguistic, geographic or disciplinary borders.”

“My co-editors and I are deeply honored to have received this iconic prize in comparative literary and cultural studies,” said Pireddu, a professor in the Department of Italian. “The selection committee appreciated not only the theoretical innovations of our project but also the ethical and pedagogical implications, and this is particularly rewarding to us.”  

Publishing Across the Disciplines

A book cover decorated with colorful triangles and rectangular prisms.

Published in 2022, the book brings together 20 essays from scholars around the globe and was co-edited by Pireddu and two French scholars, Didier Coste and Christina Kkona. Pireddu penned the book’s sixteenth chapter, Euroglottogonia, or Exercises in Continental Cosmopolitanism. 

“In a world torn between the leveling effects of globalization and divisive ideological polarizations, our book explores what it means to be world citizens and how the humanities can offer a new understanding of cosmopolitanism through a constructive critique of its various iterations,” said Pireddu. “Our contributors from different scholarly traditions, languages and locations help us interpret cosmopolitanism as much more than a condition of mobility, rootlessness, or hybridity. Migrating Minds articulates ways of inhabiting the world that entail constant self-interrogation, creative interaction with other peoples, cultures and languages, a​ sense of justice and of responsibility.”

Named after the renowned literary critic, the René Wellek Prize counts among its awardees luminaries like Umberto Eco and Edward Said. Founded in 1960, for more than half a century the ACLA has created a space and platform for scholars whose work spans cultures, languages and academic fields. In 2019, Pireddu organized the ACLA’s annual conference, which was held at Georgetown. 

On the Hilltop, Pireddu’s work in the College of Arts & Sciences emphasizes interdisciplinarity. The inaugural director of the Georgetown Humanities Initiative and the current director of the Global and Comparative Literature program, Pireddu is a champion of students who pursue research that breaks outside of traditional academic silos. 

Volume to Volumes 

Building on the work of Migrating Minds, Pireddu and her co-editors have launched a new open-access journal bearing the same name – Migrating Minds: Journal of Cultural Cosmopolitanism

The peer-reviewed journal will provide a “unique, international forum for innovative critical approaches to cosmopolitanism emerging from literatures, cultures, media and the arts in dialogue with other areas of the humanities and social sciences, across temporal, spatial, and linguistic boundaries.”

 “We are really excited to have been able to create the first scholarly journal devoted to this quite specific but multifaceted area of research, with particular attention to new voices, especially from peripheral and less discussed cosmopolitan traditions,” said Pireddu. “We look forward to this editorial adventure, through which we also hope to offer experiential learning opportunities to our students.” 

Supported by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and Lauinger Library, the first issue of Migrating Minds is scheduled to be published in the fall and the journal is open to submissions for the following issue. 

-by Hayden Frye (C’17)

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