Dr. David Cowart, the Louis Fry Scudder Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, has been named the 2018 Current Eugene Garcia Award winner for Distinction in Literary Scholarship by the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama. The award was presented at the 2018 Conference for the Sympathetic Imagination, co-sponsored by Troy University and ACETA this past February,
Born, raised, and educated in Alabama, Dr. Cowart is the author of eight books and more than a hundred articles that have been recognized around the globe for their contribution to the study of literature. According to Stephen Burns of the University of Glasgow, “Across the world, audiences look to Cowart’s scholarship for a reliable guide to what is significant about recent literary productions.” Considered one of the most distinguished scholars on contemporary fiction, he is known particularly for his work on Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, and he has been called the “greatest living specialist in American fiction.”
This award is made annually to a living outstanding literary scholar who is from Alabama, has worked primarily in Alabama, or has focused mainly on Alabama writers.
As originally conceived, the award “recognizes and rewards Alabamians who have distinguished themselves as men or women of letters, specifically in scholarly reflection and writing on literary topics.” It also demonstrates “the respect of the scholar’s peers in the academic community and signals to the citizenry at large the lasting importance of the pursuit of knowledge and the contribution of literature to the culture.” The award includes a stipend and an original Frank Fleming bronze of the clock tower on the old Monroe County Courthouse.
The 2018 Current-Garcia Award for Distinction in Literary Scholarship will be presented with its sister award, the Harper Lee Award for the 2018 Distinguished Alabama Writer, at the Alabama Writers’ Symposium on April 20, 2017 in Monroeville. The generosity of George Landegger, chairman of Parsons and Whittemore, makes both awards possible.
The award is named for the late Dr. Eugene Current-Garcia, who, in a distinguished academic career spanning five decades, mostly at Auburn University, published six books and dozens of articles and reviews on the short story genre and Old Southwest humor and also founded and co-edited the Southern Humanities Review.
Previous winners of the Eugene Current-Garcia Award include Claudia Durst Johnson (1998), Philip Beidler (1999), Don Noble (2000), Bert Hitchcock (2001), Trudier Harris (2002), William Hutchings (2003), Benjamin B. Williams (2004), Robert W. Halli, Jr. (2005), Nancy Grisham Anderson (2006), Elaine W. Hughes (2007), Norman McMillan (2008), John H. Hafner (2009), Ralph Voss (2010), David Sauer (2011), Bill Ulmer (2012), Sue Walker (2013), Wayne Flynt (2014), Eric Sterling (2015), Frye Gaillard (2016), and Kirk Curnutt (2017).