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Winners of the inaugural student book collecting project announced

May 3, 2018

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The Department of English's inaugural Book Collecting Contest presents awards May 3 to two recipients.

The contest recognizes VCU students who have developed a thoughtful and purposeful collection of books, manuscripts or other material textual works. Honorees submitted a proposal that explained their collections. A panel of judges evaluated the concept, scope and rationale.

The winner of the undergraduate prize is Jessica Schuler for "Written in the Margins," a collection of editions of Shakespeare's plays featuring marginalia that speaks to the books' history of ownership and how they those owners may have read and understood the text.

The winner of the graduate prize is Francesca P. Lyn for "Small Press and Autobiographical Comics," a carefully assembled gathering of independent and self-published minicomics, particularly by women cartoonists and cartoonists of color, that demonstrates how graphic novels from beyond mainstream culture can provide innovative answers to old questions about art history, cultural studies and media studies.

The runner-up for the undergraduate prize is Lauren Chartuk, for the collection "Educational Shakespeare," which includes works that demonstrate how Shakespeare's plays were used for didactic purposes in the 19th and 20th centuries. The runner-up for the graduate prize is Ebony Lambert for the collection "A Divine Force: Reflections on Black Love," which centers on novels that explore different representations of Black love across different social domains and communities.

Selections from the winners' collections are featured in digital galleries hosted by VCU Libraries on Flickr. In addition, the winners will be recognized in a formal ceremony in the Cabell Room on May 3 at 1 p.m. The event is open to all.

The contest was organized by the VCU Department of English in partnership with VCU Libraries and with financial sponsorship from Black Swan Books. This year's judging panel was:

  • Adam Abraham, postdoctoral fellow, VCU English
  • Nicholas Cooke, owner, Black Swan Books
  • Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU English
  • Yuki Hibben, assistant head and curator of books and art, VCU Special Collections and Archives
  • Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D., assistant professor, VCU English
  • Rivka Swenson, Ph.D., associate professor, VCU English 

Gallery: Jessica Schuler, "Written in the Margins"

Gallery: Francesca P. Lyn, "Small Press and Autobiographical Comics"

More information about the contest, including rules and submission guidelines, is available at

Image: Relics cover, by Whit Taylor

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