Algoma U Prof Wins Prestigious Literary Award


Algoma University English Professor Michael DiSanto has been recognized by the Joseph Conrad Society of America as the co-winner of the Adam Gillon Book Award in Conrad Studies, for his book, Under Conrad’s Eyes: The Novel as Criticism (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2009).


The award, presented every four years, is given to authors of book-length critical or biographical studies about the life and/or works of Joseph Conrad. DiSanto’s book is an analysis of the works of Conrad as conversations with his literary predecessors: authors like Dickens, Carlyle, or Nietzsche. After noticing the similarities between aspects of Conrad’s work and those who had written before him, he couldn’t help but conclude that Conrad used his writing to illuminate the writings of those who had influenced him. “Years upon years of reading eventually led to [Conrad] becoming a writer,” said DiSanto about his work. “What I found was, that in many of his stories, he was revising, he was revisiting, sometimes fighting with, the people he had read, and had mattered to him.”


DiSanto is unaware of who nominated him for the award, but attended the Awards Ceremony at the Society’s Annual Meeting in Boston earlier in January to receive it. “It’s a great pleasure to receive this award,” he said. “This recognition by eminent scholars in the field is a great reward for the work that went into the writing of the book.”


“Michael John DiSanto’s Under Conrad’s Eyes: The Novel as Criticism explores the roots of Conrad’s writing, especially in nineteenth-century thought,” wrote a judge. “Here DiSanto focuses on Conrad’s reading, examining among his predecessors specifically Carlyle, Dickens, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche and analyzing the manner in which Conrad’s reading of their texts is evidenced in his fictions both as continuation and as argument. The complexity of Conrad’s thought, DiSanto argues, ‘is rooted in his knowledge of these writers.’ In closely examining this relationship, this study also demonstrates how Conrad’s art itself ‘offers a reassessment of their work.’ DiSanto’s book makes a strong contribution to Conrad studies.”



Other critical acclaim for Disanto’s book:


"DiSanto has a great enthusiasm for Conrad and for ideas. This is a compelling and original work that makes a significant contribution to Conrad studies and to intellectual and literary history of the nineteenth century." Pericles Lewis, Yale University


"Under Conrad's Eyes has much to teach us about how a great novelist engages with his literary predecessors." John Xiros Cooper, University of British Columbia


"Under Conrad's Eyes is a valuable addition to the line of commentary that seeks to associate Conrad's fiction with prior intellectual traditions, particularly in its refocusing of attention upon English writers." Hugh Epstein, London


"Under Conrad's Eyes offers simultaneously a comparative analysis of the main questions and ideas of Conrad's time and a masterful reading of his novels. Interdisciplinary in its approach, this crucial new study of Conrad's work will be invaluable to both students and scholars of nineteenth-century literature and culture." Annotated Bibliography of English Studies, Routledge


DiSanto is currently studying the life and works of George Whalley, an eminent and accomplished Canadian man of letters. You can find out more about his work at


For more information on the Joseph Conrad Society of America, please visit their website.