The Modern Language Association of America (MLA) announced it is awarding its eighteenth annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize to Darius Bost, assistant professor of ethnic studies in the U’s School for Cultural and Social Transformation, for his book Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence, published by the University of Chicago Press.
With Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence, Darius Bost pays careful and thoughtful attention to key literary figures, like Essex Hemphill and Melvin Dixon, and expertly aligns his study with the trauma of the AIDS epidemic in black gay communities and the artistic expression produced from collective grief. Chapters include innovative, mixed-genre analyses that recover the role of the black body, sexuality, and black gay social life in the 1980s and 1990s when few critics were taking note. Especially poignant is Bost’s biography of Dixon, a remarkable reevaluation of his entire career as poet, fiction writer, scholarly critic, and translator. Bost shows that Dixon’s diaries become “a site for theorizing black gay self-making” and, in their melancholic mourning over AIDS trauma, a “kind of textual survival.”
The prize will be awarded on Jan. 11, 2020 at the association’s annual conference in Seattle.