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Winners of the 2019–20 VCU Student Book-Collecting Contest

April 9, 2020
Bookshelves containing books from the collection of graduate student Tim Berge
Photo by Tim Berge

After evaluating the nature, scope and rationale of a wide range of different types of collections submitted for the second VCU Student Book-Collecting Contest, the judging panel has announced the 2019–20 winners.

Held by the VCU Department of English, with the support of VCU Libraries and the sponsorship of Black Swan Books and the Friends of VCU Libraries, the contest recognizes VCU students who have developed thoughtful and purposeful collections of books, manuscripts or other material textual works.

Both winners this year feature collections themed around language: in one case, books written in non-English languages or written originally in English and then translated, and in the other, books written originally in non-English languages and then translated into English.

The winner of the undergraduate prize is Molly Sperry, for "Through Indo-European Eyes," a collection of books in a range of Romantic and Germanic languages, showcasing the challenges and opportunities presented by engaging with literature written outside of one's native language. The collection is a means for Sperry to enjoy exercising her language skills and build her global awareness. "When you read in a language that isn't your native," she notes, "you are forced to think and interpret differently."

The winner of the graduate prize is Tim Berge, for "Scandinavian Literature in Translation," a deliberately chosen collection of works of Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic literature translated into English. Berge designed his collection with the goal of better understanding and appreciating his heritage as a first-generation son of a Scandinavian immigrant and, as he puts it, becoming more familiar with "a world I both know and don't know."

This year's judging panel:

  • Gardner Campbell, Ph.D. (associate professor, VCU English)
  • Nicholas Cooke (owner, Black Swan Books)
  • Joshua Eckhardt, Ph.D. (associate professor, VCU English)
  • Kevin Farley, Ph.D. (humanities collections librarian, VCU Libraries)
  • Yuki Hibben (interim head of Special Collections and Archives and curator of books and art, VCU Libraries)
  • Matteo Pangallo, Ph.D. (assistant professor, VCU English)
  • Mimi Winick, Ph.D. (instructor, VCU English)

Selections from the winners' collections are featured in a pair of digital galleries hosted by VCU Libraries:

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