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Book by Stony Brook University Professor Receives Honorable Mention From Modern Language Association of America


PfeifferStony Brook, NY – January 11, 2024 – Douglas Pfeiffer, associate professor in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University recently received an honorable mention from the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) for his book “Authorial Personality and the Making of Renaissance Texts: The Force of Character.” The MLA recently reported Pfeiffer’s distinction through a news release announcing the 2023 MLA Prize for a First Book, which was awarded to Vanderbilt University’s Akshya Saxena.

According to the MLA, this annual award honors an exceptional scholarly work authored by one of the association’s 20,000 global members and published the previous year as their first book-length text. Eligible works include literary or linguistic studies, critical editions of important texts, and critical biographies. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the award.

“I feel extremely gratified and proud to see a project that I’ve been following since its early stages get recognized as a major contribution not only to Professor Pfeiffer’s field of early modern studies, but to the general field of literary scholarship,” said Andrew Newman, professor and chair of the Department of English. “Anyone who reads it will come away with a much richer understanding of authorship.”

In addition, Pfeiffer’s book was also recently awarded the Roland Bainton Prize which was selected  by the Sixteenth Century Society which recognized its quality/originality of research; methodological skill and/or innovation; development of fresh and stimulating interpretations or insights and the book’s literary quality.

Professor Pfeiffer is an expert on the history of rhetorical and literary theory, Renaissance humanism, and English poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A former professor at the University of California, Irvine, he joined the faculty at Stony Brook in 2007 and went on to receive a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching in 2022. He holds a PhD from Columbia University.

The MLA announcement cites Professor Pfeiffer’s book as “a tremendous achievement. In this substantial volume,” it continues, “Pfeiffer traces the phenomenon of author centrism to the scholarship of early Renaissance humanists. Focusing on several well-chosen case studies, this deeply researched multilingual monograph brings welcome new interpretations and insights not only to Renaissance studies but to literary studies more broadly.”

The Prize for a First Book, along with 21 additional MLA awards, will be presented at the association’s annual convention in Philadelphia on Friday, January 5, 2024.


About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University — New York’s flagship university and No. 1 public university — is going far beyond the expectations of today’s public universities. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. With nearly 26,000 students, more than 2,900 faculty members, more than 200,000 alumni, a premier academic healthcare system and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs, Stony Brook is a research-intensive distinguished center of innovation dedicated to addressing the world’s biggest challenges. The university embraces its mission to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate and professional education of the highest quality, and is ranked as the #58 overall university and #26 among public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges listing. Fostering a commitment to academic research and intellectual endeavors, Stony Brook’s membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places it among the top 71 research institutions in North America. The university’s distinguished faculty have earned esteemed awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Stony Brook has the responsibility of co-managing Brookhaven National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy — one of only eight universities with a role in running a national laboratory. In 2023, Stony Brook was named the anchor institution for The New York Climate Exchange on Governors Island in New York City. Providing economic growth for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region, the university totals an impressive $7.23 billion in increased economic output on Long Island. Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter(@stonybrooku).


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