NYU has awarded the 2020 Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama and Theatre to "A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present", edited by Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker.

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New York University has awarded the 2020 Callaway Prize for the Best Book on Drama and Theatre to A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2019), edited by Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Dharwadker is the first multiple winner of the Callaway Prize—she also won the award in 2006 for Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory and Urban Performance in India since 1947 (University of Iowa Press, 2005).

“A Poetics of Modernity assembles and makes accessible, to readers of English, a multi-lingual archive vital to understanding the rich history of modern Indian theory,” says NYU Professor Una Chaudhuri, who chaired the judging panel. “The judges wish to celebrate and honor the enormous collaborative labor the volume represents, as well as the valuable work of its many contributors. We welcome the book’s potential for expanding the study of modern performance theory beyond European and American sources.”

Book: Poetics of Modernity

The panel of judges also included Professor Martin Harries of the University of California, Irvine and Professor Eng-Beng Lim of Dartmouth College. 

“Anthologies have made important Indian plays widely available,” observes Harries. “Dharwadker’s A Poetics of Modernity will provide a crucial supplement to these resources. This heterogeneous record, drawn from books, articles, letters, pamphlets, and other sources in several languages, will enrich and de-provincialize scholarship and teaching—and, it may well be, the making of theatre. A Poetics of Modernity will likely prove a milestone in the transmission of Indian drama, performance, and intellectual history.”

The panel also awarded an Honorable Mention to Yale University’s Shane Vogel for his monograph Stolen Time: Black Fad Performance and the Calypso Craze (University of Chicago Press, 2018), which examines the popularity of calypso music in the U.S. in the 1950s. In an analysis of recorded albums, movies, photographs, scholarly accounts, and mass-market magazines, the work illuminates how the genre’s representations in America were both far and yet not completely detached from the roots of calypso in the Caribbean, prompting a contemporary debate about musical authenticity and inauthenticity.

The Callaway Prize, which carries a cash award of $9,000, is given by NYU’s Department of English for the best book on drama or theatre published during the previous two years by an American author. The 2020 award was delayed until this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prize was established in 1990 by Joe A. Callaway, an actor, drama lecturer, and supporter of theatrical causes. 


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