Carolyn Eastman Wins Library of Virginia Literary Prize for ‘The Strange Genius of Mr. O’ – VCU News

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Carolyn Eastman, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of History in the College of Humanities, received the 2022 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction for her book, “The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of America’s first forgotten celebrity.

“I’m so grateful for this honor, and also for the chance to be alongside so many wonderful writers,” Eastman said. “With these awards, the Library of Virginia celebrated the humanities, to remind us all how powerful, how powerfully human, it is to read poetry and stories that introduce us to new ideas. and feelings. Hopefully one of the things we’ve learned during COVID is how badly we need those stories.

The book, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2021, tells the story of the rise and fall of James Ogilvie, whose oratorical performances made him a household name in the founding era of the America. It revealed a largely forgotten story about the intersection of political culture and celebrity at a time when the United States was in the midst of invention.

The award was announced Saturday at the 25th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration.

Carolyn Eastman received the 2022 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction at a ceremony Saturday. (photo added)

“The Strange Genius of Mr. O” also received the 2022 James Bradford Award for Best Biography from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR).

Eastman is a historian of early America with a particular interest in histories of political culture, media, and gender in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Her first book, “A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution,” explores how ordinary women and men came to understand themselves as “Americans” after the American Revolution. It received the James Broussard Award for Best First Book from SHEAR and was a finalist for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Best Book Award.

Eastman is currently on leave from VCU to develop a new book, “A Plague in New York City: How the City Confronted – and Survived – the Yellow Fever Epidemics of the Founding Era”. The project is supported by two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Also at the event on Saturday, Pulitzer Prize winner and former American Poet Laureate Rita Dove received the 2022 Poetry Prize for “Playlist for the Apocalypse”; Jocelyn Nicole Johnson received the 2022 Fiction Prize for her book “My Monticello”; Mari K. Elder received the People’s Choice Award for Non-Fiction for “Girls Who Crossed the Lines: Untold Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II”; and Sadeqa Johnson received the People’s Choice Award in the fiction category for “Yellow Wife: A Novel”.

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