BRANE Prize rubric and committee formation survey

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May 25, 2022, 1:46:29 PM5/25/22
to BRANECollective
Hi everyone,
We have built the prize criteria out of member ideas and comments--we are very grateful that there was high participation (about 45 members provided comments). The below criteria were edited together from the wording of about of your 8-10 responses, embodying a strong consensus.

We are delighted to say that we are able to fund two prizes, one open to all career statuses and one reserved for very early career and contingent (globally speaking, not on a secure employment track) scholars, each at a minimum of $500, for the next 5 years!

After reading them, please let us know your thoughts on them and whether you'd be willing to help out in actually judging and awarding the prizes.


Suggested Rubric for Prizes: Our first innovation in transparency is that all the official criteria for selection that the committee will use are also in the call for submissions. The committee announcement will include how each winning selection fits the two areas of quality and innovation.

I. Quality—The preliminary criterion for all submissions is a well crafted and technically solid work: the scholarship is up to date with a full range of conversations in the field, clearly argued, based on careful use of primary material, visual, or textual sources, and makes a new point.

II. Innovation, Freshness, and Audacity. Judges will identify how the work fits two or more of the below:

1. A fresh approach to a question that traditional scholarship feels is settled.

2. Topics beyond those traditionally emerging from historical-critical approaches. This can include i) is the author using a methodology that is not often used in the field? ii) does the work suggest a way to change the current paradigm and is the author pushing constructively back against the current status quo? Such innovation may even garner polarization in its reception, work that may take years before it is viewed as fully acceptable or even status quo.

3. The innovations in methodology should be theoretically transparent. That is, explaining what the field of thought’s concerns are, the basics of its approach and what is persuasive and helpful about this approach. This can include a theoretical starting point that isn't commonly used in the field.

4. Substantive engagement with multiple fields, theoretical frameworks, and/or critical scholarship in multiple languages. Beyond the mere label of 'interdisciplinary' scholarship, work that goes beyond exclusionary citation networks. Citation and dialogue showing curiosity and breadth, beyond what could be called “colonial” bibliographic patterns (i.e. recycling the work of a set of prestigious—often, though not always, white, Christian, male, and/or institutionally elite scholars).

5. Emphasizing outsider perspectives* on ancient texts, as a way to a) encourage scholars from underrepresented groups, and b) encourage embodied research that interacts consciously and richly with the distinctive forms of knowledge, experience, and perspective (including but not limited to identity) that a scholar brings to the work.

*Outsider in either a modern or ancient sense—an example of writing “outside” modern default scholarly identities is Yee’s discussion of the “perpetual foreigner” and model minority in the book of Ruth, and a viewpoint “outside” that of the ancient subjects with which scholars typically identify is Said's "Canaanite Reading" of Exodus as a political model.

Committee Composition:  A group of scholars diverse in (a) career experience from early career to senior scholar) (b) gender (c) ethnicity; (c) global location; (d) expertise. Most of the committee will be refreshed each year.

Sincerely, on behalf of BRANE,
Seth Sanders

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