In an obituary he wrote for A. S. P. Woodhouse shortly after Woodhouse’s death in 1964, F. E. L. Priestley commented on how, with ninety former students of the former head of the University College Department of English serving as faculty members in universities throughout Canada, the United States, Britain, India, and “in fact . . . wherever English literature is studied,” “something of [Professor Woodhouse’s] influence” continued to be “at work.”
This has continued to be the case more than forty years later, in part thanks to the generosity of those alumni who, along with friends and associates of Professor Woodhouse, helped endow the A. S. P. Woodhouse Prize. That prize has been awarded on a yearly basis since 1968, to the author of the best doctoral thesis submitted in the English Department in a given year.
There is a good deal of pleasure to be derived from looking through the sturdy file folder that the graduate office has used for almost three decades now to house the correspondence documenting the history of the Prize. A twenty-first-century director of graduate studies who does so discovers, for a start, that there was a time when her colleagues did not fire off e-mails to her predecessors but instead handwrote, in beautiful cursive script, letters describing the merits of the theses they wished to nominate for the Prize. It’s even more wonderful to encounter the thank-you notes from now-famous literary scholars--people who profess literary studies at Dalhousie, Calgary, Carleton, Trent, Waterloo, Laurentian, Calgary, Illinois, Harvard, Oxford, and many other institutions--who won the Prize just as they were starting out in the profession, and who wrote to the Department to state just how much the vote of confidence the award represented had meant to them. (They also almost universally note how the money has been helpful too.) Included in this group are many current members of the Toronto faculty: Professors David Galbraith, Lynne Magnusson, Paul Stevens, Karen Weisman, Malcolm Woodland, and others, and it is especially worth noting that Professor Emerita Eleanor Cook was the inaugural winner of the Woodhouse Prize, when it was awarded for the first time in 1968. A recent winner is Coby Dowdell, who won the Prize for “Ascetic Citizens: Religious Austerity and Political Crisis in Anglo-American Literature,” which he submitted in summer 2009. (Dr. Dowdell also was the winner in 2010 of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies/UMI Distinguished Dissertation award for the most promising thesis in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences by a Canadian scholar.)
With new donations to this fund, Graduate English will be able to sustain a tradition that helps out our graduates at the same time that it pays homage to A. S. P. Woodhouse's achievements. Thank you for considering our request.
Deidre Shauna Lynch
Professor, and former Director of Graduate Studies in English,
University of Toronto
To contribute to this award fund, please vist the donation page for the A.S.P. Woodhouse Prize.