Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX English professor Dr. Maureen Moynagh receives prestigious, international honour for her work

March 7th, 2019
Dr. Maureen Moynagh

The excellence of StFX English professor Dr. Maureen Moynagh’s scholarly work has been recognized with a prestigious international award for her essay published in the African American Review. 

Her article, “Speculative Pasts and Afro-Futures: Nalo Hopkinson’s Trans-American Imaginary,” was singled out as the best of the year, receiving The Joe Weixlmann Prize for the Year’s Best Essay in 20th and 21st Century African American Literature in the African American Review.

The Review, published by John Hopkins University Press, is a scholarly aggregation of insightful essays on African American literature, theatre, film, the visual arts, and culture; interviews; poetry; fiction; and book reviews. It has featured renowned writers and cultural critics and fosters conversation among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

“It was a really pleasant surprise, and gratifying to be recognized in that way,” says Dr. Moynagh, who teaches English at StFX, specializing in postcolonial literature, particularly African-diaspora and African literatures. 

She says as the journal itself selects the award winner, she didn’t know she was in the running until she received word that she had won. 

Dr. Moynagh says her essay is on Nalo Hopkinson, an African-Canadian writer who works mostly in science fiction and fantasy. 

Her essay, she says, situates Ms. Hopkinson’s fiction in relation to Afrofuturism—science fiction   produced by African-diaspora writers that offers a critique of the present through counter-factual histories and alternative future worlds—and in relation to recent literary fiction in the Americas that incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy in works that otherwise employ realist conventions. Instead of understanding the realist and the speculative as antinomies, Dr. Moynagh argues, Ms. Hopkinson’s fiction invites readers to see the speculative genres themselves as a means of addressing the social and political injustice that has conventionally been the province of realist fiction. 

Dr. Moynagh’s essay appears in the Fall 2018 issue of African American Review, a special issue devoted to African-Canadian literature that was edited by Canadian and Nova Scotian poet, playwright and literary critic George Elliott Clarke. 

Dr. Moynagh says her interest in African-diaspora literature dates back to her undergraduate student days at the University of Winnipeg when her professor invited the Trinidad-born author Samuel Selvon in to speak with the class. “I was really captivated by the stories he read. It spurred my interest to look further,” she says. It also drew her interest to the field of post-colonial studies.  

This research is, in part, made possible by the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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