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Dr. Alice Blackwell Wins Breck Award

Released: 02/11/2009

Dr. Alice Blackwell, assistant professor of English at LSU at Alexandria, won the 2008 Allen D. Breck Award from the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Assn., which recognizes the most distinguished paper presented by a junior scholar at the annual conference in Boulder, Colo. The paper is the lead essay in the association’s latest professional journal, Quidditas.

Blackwell’s article, “Gawain’s Five Wits: Technological Difficulties in the Endless Knot,” addresses the question of the five faultless wits in the image of Solomon’s Seal imposed on Sir Gawain’s shield in the Middle English literature of King Arthur. “Gawain scholars tend to assume that the wits represented in the heraldic device are irrelevant detail,” Blackwell said. “Building on recent scholarship from Peter Whiteford, my position is that the description can be applied to the stages sensory perception goes through to become knowledge, and this is crucial to understanding Gawain’s failures.”

Blackwell, who was appointed to the LSUA faculty in 2005, said she has a longstanding interest in “technologies of self” and Gawain’s issues with explaining his actions to himself and his contemporaries.