Prizes & Grants

Donald Gray Prize

NAVSA's annual Donald Gray Prize for best essay published in the field of Victorian Studies is named after Donald J. Gray, Culbertson Professor Emeritus in the English Department of Indiana University. Professor Gray received his PhD at Ohio State University, where he completed his dissertation under the direction of Richard Altick, and began teaching at Indiana University in 1956. At Indiana, Professor Gray received the university's Distinguished Teaching Award, its Distinguished Service Award, and the President's Medal of Excellence; in 1997, he received the MLA award for professional service. He was a dissertation director of legendary responsiveness, acuity and stamina, having directed over 75 dissertations. Professor Gray is the editor of the Norton Pride and Prejudice and Alice in Wonderland; with George Tennyson he edited Victorian Poetry and Prose for Macmillan. He also served as editor of the journal College English and, beginning in 1957, as the Book Review Editor of Victorian Studies, helping the founding editors steer the journal through its early years. From 1990-2000 he served as principal editor of the journal. He retired in 1998. The Gray Prize honors his remarkable achievements as editor and graduate-student teacher.

NAVSA is now seeking nominations for the Donald Gray Prize for best essay published in the field of Victorian Studies. The prize carries with it an award of $500 and will be awarded to essays that appeared in print or online in journals from the previous calendar year. Essays may be on any topic related to the study of Victorian Britain. Note that the actual date of appearance trumps the date given on the issue itself since it's common for journals to lag behind official issue dates. (The prize is limited to journal essays; those published in essay collections are not eligible.) The winner will also receive complementary registration at the NAVSA conference at which his or her award will be announced. Anyone, regardless of NAVSA membership status, is free to nominate an essay that appeared in print between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022.   Nominations will also be solicited from the Advisory Board of NAVSA and the prize committee judges; self-nominated essays are equally welcome. Authors may be from any country, of any institutional standing, and need not be NAVSA members.

To nominate an essay, please submit by 01 May 2023: (1) a brief cover sheet with complete address and email information for both the essay's nominator and its author, and (2) a digital copy of the essay (in .pdf, .doc or .docx) to the Executive Secretary of NAVSA, Mary Ellis Gibson, at the following e-mail address: All submissions should carry the subject line: NAVSA Donald Gray Prize Submission.

The winning essay will be selected according to three criteria: 1) Potential significance for Victorian studies; 2) Quality and depth of scholarly research and interpretation; 3) Clarity and effectiveness of presentation. The judges will choose one essay for the award, with one honorary runner-up also selected, when appropriate, and will provide a short paragraph for use in announcing the award. If the judges are deadlocked, the decision is thrown to the NAVSA Executive Council.

The NAVSA Executive Council selects the judges for the Gray Prize. Typically, one of the judges comes from a department of English and one from a department of history. The third can be from any department. One judge is usually from the US and one from Canada. Judges will not be editors of journals in the field, though they may serve as members of journal advisory boards; and they shall not be members of the NAVSA Executive Council. One judge is named chair, and is in charge of mediating disputes and conveying the results in a timely fashion to the NAVSA Executive Committee. The usual term for judges is for two years, and their terms are staggered.

Past Winners:

Articles published in 2022

winner: Aviva Briefel, Bowdoin College, “Ride-Sharing with Little Nell: The Gig Economy of Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop
hon. mention: Jacob Romanow, Bryn Mawr College, "Metafiction as Reality Effect: Trollope's Quixotism and Novel Theory"

Articles published in 2021

winner: Philip Steer, Massey U, “The Climates of the Victorian Novel: Seasonality, Weather, and Regional Fiction in Britain and Australia”

Articles published in 2020

winner: Ronjaunee Chatterjee, Concordia U; Alicia Mireles Christoff, Amherst College; Amy R, Wong, Dominican U of California, “Introduction: Undisciplining Victorian Studies”
hon. mention: John MacNeill Miller, Allegheny College, "The Ecological Plot: A Brief History of Multispecies Storytelling, from Malthus to Middlemarch"

Articles published in 2019

winner: Lisa Hager, U Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Waukesha, “A Case for a Trans Studies Turn in Victorian Studies: ‘Female Husbands’ of the Nineteenth Century”
hon. mention: Priyanka Anne Jacob, Loyola U of Chicago, "The Pocket-book and the Pigeon-hole: Lady Audley’s Secret and the Files of Victorian Fiction"

Articles published in 2018
winner: Allen MacDuffie, U of Texas at Austin, “Charles Darwin and the Victorian Pre-History of Climate Denial”
hon. mention: Richard Menke, U of Georgia, "New Grub Street’s Ecologies of Paper"

Articles published in 2017
winner: Veronica Alfano, Australian Catholic U, “Technologies of Forgetting: Phonographs, Lyric Voice, and Rossetti’s Woodspurge”
hon. mention: Anna Gibson, North Carolina State U, "Charlotte Bronte’s First Person"

Articles published in 2016
winner: Paul Fyfe, North Carolina SU, “An Archaeology of Victorian Newspapers”
hon. mention: Barry Milligan, Wright State U, "Luke Fildes's The Doctor, Narrative Painting, and the Selfless Professional Ideal"

Articles published in 2015
winner: Jason Camlot, Concordia U, “Historicist Audio Forensics: The Archive of Voices as Repository of Material and Conceptual Artefacts”
hon. mention: Alicia Christoff, Amherst College, "Alone with Tess"

Articles published in 2014
winner: Cannon Schmitt, U of Toronto, “Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson”
hon. mention: William A. Cohen, U of Maryland, "Arborealities: The Tactile Ecology of Hardy's Woodlanders"

Articles published in 2013
winner: Jacob Jewusiak, Valdosta State U, "No Plots for Old Men"
hon. mention: Cannon Schmitt, U of Toronto, “Tidal Conrad (Literally)”
hon. mention: Matthew Rubery, Queen Mary, U of London, “Canned Literature: The Book after Edison”

Articles published in 2012
winner: Daniel Hack, U of Michigan, "Wild Charges: The Afro-Haitian ‘Charge of the Light Brigade'"
hon. mention: Daniel Martin, Wilfred Laurier U, “‘Some trick of the Moonlight’: Seduction and the Moving Image in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
hon. mention: Brian McCuskey, Utah State U, “Sherlock Holmes and Intelligent Design”

Articles published in 2011
winner: Matthew Kaiser, Harvard U, "Pater's Mouth"
hon. mention: Bradley Deane, U Minnesota, Morris, "Imperial Boyhood: Piracy and the Play Ethic"

Articles published in 2010
winner: Sue Zemka, U Colorado, "The Death of Nancy 'Sikes'"
hon. mention: Jesse Rosenthal, Johns Hopkins U, "The Large Novel and the Law of Large Numbers; Or, why George Eliot hates Gambling"

Articles published in 2009
winner: Sarah Winter, U Connecticut, "Darwin’s Saussure: Biosemiotics and Race in Expression"
hon. mention: Rachel Teukolsky, Vanderbilt U, "Pictures in Bleak Houses: Slavery and the Aesthetics of Transatlantic Reform"

Articles published in 2008
winner: Adela Pinch, U Michigan, "Love Thinking"
hon. mention: Daniel Hack, U Michigan, "Close Reading at a Distance: The African Americanization of Bleak House"

Articles published in 2007
winner: Andrew Miller, Indiana U, "Lives Unled in Realist Fiction"
hon. mention: Linda Hughes, Texas Christian U, "What the Wellesley Index Left Out: Why Poetry Matters to Periodical Studies"

Articles published in 2006
winner: Martin Hewitt, U of Leeds, "Why the Notion of Victorian Britain Does Make Sense"
hon. mention: Caroline Levine, U of Wisconsin, Madison, "Strategic Formalism: Toward a New Method in Cultural Studies"

Articles published in 2005
winner: Catherine Robson, U of California, Davis, "Standing on the Burning Deck: Poetry, Performance, History"
hon. mention: Jason Rudy, U of Maryland, "Rhythmic Intimacy, Spasmodic Epistemology"

Articles published in 2004
co-winner: Lara Kriegel, Johns Hopkins U, "Culture and the Copy"
co-winner: John Kucich, Rutgers U, "Sadomasochism and the Magical Group"
hon. mention: Tamara Ketabgian, Beloit C, "Melancholy Mad Elephants"

Articles published in 2003
co-winner: George Behlmer, U of Washington, "Grave Doubts"
co-winner: Herbert F. Tucker, U of Virginia, "Rossetti's Goblin Marketing"
hon. mention: Nicholas Dames, Columbia U, "Trollope and the Career"