Winner: Gough, Melinda J. Dancing Queen: Marie de Médicis’ Ballets at the Court of Henri IV. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2019.
In Dancing Queen, Gough has given us a definitive, in-depth exploration of the dramatic interplay of politics, gender, religion, music, dance, and ceremony at the balls of Marie de Medicis. Bringing together new archival discoveries with multiple theoretical perspectives, Gough is adept at moving from one historical lens to another. The book examines both understudied areas of the ballets’ performance (dance, costume, gesture, staging) as well as women's history. The author demonstrates an amazing command of sources in a wide variety of formats to make an important claim about a significant and influential historical figure. Each chapter builds on the former, leading the reader down a cumulative, revelatory path into the interpretive goldmine of Marie’s ballets.
Honorable Mention: Guynn, Noah D. Pure Filth: Ethics, Politics, and Religion in Early French Farce. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019.
In Pure Filth, Guynn examines farce using a plethora of different theoretical and methodological frames, from deconstruction, reception theory, queer studies, and performance practice to historical, legal, and theological close readings. In an entertaining manner, he argues that farce tackles the issues of economic inequality and social justice which its spectators faced daily, making a compelling argument that farce is deserving of serious study.
Award Committee: Katherine Brokaw, Susannah Crowder, and Carolyn Coulson (chair). Awards announcement and presentation took place during the MRDS business meeting in May, held online by way of Zoom due to the COVID19 global pandemic.