Faculty Recognition: Assistant Professor Mary Caton Lingold Named Co-winner of the 2017 Richard Beale Davis Prize for Best Essay

February 21, 2019

Assistant Professor Mary Caton Lingold was named co-winner of the 2017 Richard Beale Davis Prize for best essay in Early American Literature for her article “Peculiar Animations: Listening to Afro-Atlantic Music in Caribbean Travel Literature.”

Duncan Faherty, Martha Elena Rojas, and Jordan Alexander Stein from Early American Literature write that Lingold’s essay, “reconsiders the well-worn metaphor of ‘archival silence’ to advance the surprising claim that ‘in order to experience silence, one must actively not listen to intruding noises.’ Sound, Lingold argues, could not be stolen from enslaved people, and it was one among several knowledge traditions that flourished outside manuscript and print in the Atlantic world. [...] Lingold’s argument then turns to an examination of musical notation as a genre, a culturally specific practice that excludes nearly as much sonic information as it communicates, convincingly showing how notation actively translates the epiphenomenal performances of enslaved artists into a historical record of significant but finite legibility. [...] Lingold uncovers a virtually unexplored archive of early Afro-Atlantic musical life in Caribbean travel writing, hidden in plain sight. One of the highest compliments we know how to give historical research is that it brings the past to life. Lingold’s essay literally reenacts past performances in a way that no prior scholar of early American literature has.”

In addition to this award, Dr. Lingold was also given Honorable Mention in the Society of Early Americanists 2018 Essay Competition for an essay adapted from her Asecs presentation last year, “Digital Performance and the Musical Archive of Slavery: ‘Like Running Home.’”