The Modern Language Association of America recently awarded its twenty-fifth annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies to Jessica Gabriel Peritz, assistant professor of music at Yale University, for The Lyric Myth of Voice: Civilizing Song in Enlightenment Italy, published in November 2022 by the University of California Press.
The award is one of nineteen that will be presented on 6 January 2023, during the association’s annual convention, to be held in San Francisco. The Modern Language Association of America and its over 20, 000 members in 100 countries work to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature. The prize committee’s citation for the winning manuscript reads:
Jessica Gabriel Peritz’s The Lyric Myth of Voice: Civilizing Song in Enlightenment Italy is a compelling and beautifully written account of the way that both literary and musical versions of voice came to be associated with subjectivity and assumed a national and gendered identity in eighteenth-century Italy. A model of interdisciplinary scholarship, the book draws on a rich trove of materials that includes lyric poetry, opera scores and libretti, performance history, and philosophical reflections. Resisting the temptation to produce a single narrative that might account for Italy’s fragmented cultural politics, Peritz perceptively tracks multiple voices, including those of women and castrati, showing how song civilizes those who hear it and how voice becomes an agent of sensibility and individuality.