Aaron Wile Awarded the 2015–16 James Clifford Prize

Posted in journal articles by Editor on April 13, 2016


Jean-Antoine Watteau, Le rendez-vous de chasse, ca. 1717–18, oil on canvas, 124.5 × 189 cm
(London: The Wallace Collection)

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As noted at CAA News (15 March 2016) . . .

Aaron M. Wile is the winner of the 2015–16 James L. Clifford Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies to the author of the best article regarding any aspect of eighteenth-century culture. Receiving the award is Wile’s “Watteau, Reverie, and Selfhood,” published by College Art Association in The Art Bulletin.

The Clifford Fund was originally established to support an annual prize in honor of James L. Clifford. Clifford founded The Johnsonian News Letter in 1940, was Secretary to the English Institute, twice a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and third President of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. During his long and energetic life, he produced numerous books, articles, bibliographies, essays, edited collections, editions and, of course, the much beloved, imitated, and quoted Johnsonian News Letter. Accordingly, the Clifford Prize is awarded to the author of the best article on an eighteenth-century subject, interesting to any eighteenth-century specialist, regardless of discipline.

The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies is a non-profit, educational group founded to promote the study of all aspects of the eighteenth century. It sponsors conferences, awards, fellowships and prizes, and publishes Eighteenth-Century Studies and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. Requests for information about the Clifford Prize and nominations may be addressed to: asecs@wfu.edu.

Aaron M. Wile, “Watteau, Reverie, and Selfhood,” The Art Bulletin 96 (September 2014): 319–37.
Watteau’s fêtes galantes break with key aspects of academic art theory in early eighteenth-century France—particularly as put forward by Roger de Piles—to elicit an experience of reverie in the spectator. Watteau’s formal innovations inaugurated a new relationship between painting and beholder that opened up a new sphere of subjective experience, linking the artist’s enterprise with the rise of modern interiority.

The article is available free to everyone through the Taylor & Francis website, until 30 June 2016.


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