Rutgers English would like to congratulate Professor Marianne DeKoven on receiving the 2005 Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, the highest honor given at Rutgers for outstanding scholarly distinction.
During her twenty-seven years here, Professor DeKoven has become an internationally respected scholar for her work in the fields of modernism, postmodernism, feminist criticism, and the study of Gertrude Stein.
Her latest book, though just recently published, is already generating praise. Entitled Utopia Limited: The Sixties and the Emergence of Postmodernism, the book details the end of modernism and the beginnings of postmodernism in the 1960s. By tracing the modernist concept of utopia, she shows how postmodernism "assumes and incorporates" older ideas. Her scholarly approach is to pay detailed attention to her chosen texts, interpreting a wide range of culture from the period: from academic theorists to popular journalists Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, from experimental theater to political protest manifestos, and beyond to a critique of Las Vegas as the "capital of postmodernity." The book also presents a bit of scholarly autobiography, as Professor DeKoven describes how her own intellectual passions - particularly feminism - grew out of this period.
In this way, the new book continues the scholarly project begun in her other works. Her first book, A Different Language: Gertrude Stein's Experimental Writing, studies the notoriously difficult poet and demonstrates how to understand her language, once thought to be apolitical, as both political and feminist. This book has become a classic of Stein criticism and of modernist feminist studies in general. Professor DeKoven's next book, Rich and Strange: Gender, History, Modernism, accomplished something similar for a wider group of authors, examining the supposedly masculine bias of modernist literature and finding instead complex tensions around the issue of gender. Like A Different Language, Rich and Strange is considered an important study by other scholars of modernism and feminism.
Professor DeKoven's distinction as a critic and theorist outside of Rutgers is matched by her reputation here as a generous teacher and colleague. In 2003, she won the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, making her the only Rutgers English professor ever to have won the highest awards for both teaching and research. Congratulations to Professor DeKoven on her remarkable achievement.