Co-Winners of the 2021 Book Prize

We are pleased to announce the co-winners of the 2021 Book Prize:

Fernando Domínguez RubioStill Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum (Chicago 2020)

Fernando Domínguez Rubio’s Still Life persistently stuns with its conceptual brilliance, the accessibility of its prose, and the ways in which the particularity of its attention flows to larger and larger implications. By the end of the book, the reader gains greater appreciation for how museums work, and how what we see when we enter its exhibition halls is at once only a sliver of its much vaster apparatus and founded on some ideas of art that are worthy of further interrogation. Looking closely at the mechanics of the art museum, Still Life offers an inviting (lucid and engaging) point of entry to philosophical questions about the status of the art object. Convincingly arguing those conversations are incomplete without a close look at the “aesthetic machine” working in the background, Still Life is a fiercely original book that invites us to deeply rethink art, aesthetics, and the museum space.

Sianne NgaiTheory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form (Harvard 2020)

It is no secret that Theory of the Gimmick is a book that has made a profound impact in the humanities. It’s been thrilling to watch as Sianne Ngai’s project—starting with Ugly Feelings and continuing with Our Aesthetic Categories—culminates in Theory of the Gimmick in what feels like the last of a trilogy. Theory of the Gimmick is as ambitious, as learned, and as original as the earlier work. Its theoretical depth, complexity, and ambition are nearly unmatched in the contemporary landscape of humanities research. The pleasure of reading Theory of the Gimmick is the (too rare) experience of encountering scholarship that reenergizes the “given.” In this way, it affirms and expands the study of the arts of the present.

The committee for the 2021 Book Prize was: Ignacio Sánchez Prado (chair, Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn Professor in the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis), Lauren M. Cramer (Assistant Professor in the Cinema Studies Institute, University of Toronto), and Min Hyoung Song (Professor of English, Boston College).

The committee thanks the authors, editors, and publishing staff who submitted their works to be considered for the ASAP Book Prize. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the achievements of everyone who had a book come out last calendar year.