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Miller Receives Imagine Fund Award for Project on Man Booker Prize

Posted by Cassidy Long '17, Joliet, Illinois on Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2014

Brook Miller, associate professor of English, received a 2014 Imagine Fund award to create a digital research database titled Booker Watch: Prestige Culture and Literary Scholarship. The database will explore how the types of novels favored by the Man Booker Prize have changed over time as well as the impact that consideration for the Booker has on a novel’s reception.

Established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is a leading literary prize for British literature. The Booker recently expanded its criteria to include all novels originally written in English. This decision has generated discussion of the purposes of literary prizes in general, and whether expanding the selection criteria will dilute what the Booker represented.

In recent years more emphasis has been placed on multicultural and world literature, and awards juries are selecting books that reflect this globalization. These novels often challenge traditional ideas about national culture by exploring how globalization permeates everyday life. The tension within prizes like the Booker between older cultural categories and the changes wrought by globalization initially interested Miller in the project.

“By studying institutions that promote prestige culture, you can learn a lot about the canonization process,” says Miller.

Miller plans to establish a website that makes this work publicly accessible and hopes it will become a resource for literary scholars. He plans to begin the project early in the 2014–15 school year. Miller’s initial results will be ready by summer of 2015, and design of the website will begin in the 2015–16 school year.

This project is supported by generous funding from the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund Awards.