Kevin Levin notes a bizarre case of an author refusing a historical award before it has been proffered. It’s bizarre because the author seems to be under the impression that the Museum of the Confedracy is some type of neo-secessionist outfit, as opposed to the reputable and scholarly institution it actually is.
This prompted Dr. Brooks Simpson to offer a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: “This is funny. It’s also an excellent way to get attention. I think more of us ought to think of prizes for which we do not want to be considered, and announce that fact to the world. In fact, some of us should invent prizes, so others of us can announce that we refuse to be considered for these prizes.”
As a struggling adjunct who has not even completed a terminal degree yet, I need all the attention I can get. At the same time, however, I hope to start publishing books someday, and as such I can’t afford to offend award committees before I even attempt to become an author of scholarly works. It’s a heck of a dilemma.
After considerable thought, I think I may have figured out a compromise solution by which I can both get attention by refusing awards and at the same time obtain the ones I actually want. I have decided to refuse all awards that are irrelevant to my chosen profession. I will gladly accept any and all awards for historical writing and scholarship, so I encourage all committees to send as many of them my way as possible. But until further notice, I categorically refuse to accept the following:
- The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor
- The Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
- The Heisman Trophy
- The Congressional Medal of Honor
- The Victoria Cross
- The Luftwaffe Paratrooper Badge
- The President’s Inauguration Medal of the Sri Lanka Army
- The Civil Order of Tuscany
- The Kuwait Liberation Medal
I also refuse to be considered a candidate for any state or national political office, an English peerage, or the papacy.
I am also going to take Dr. Simpson’s second suggestion to heart by creating a prize which everyone is invited to refuse—The Past in the Present Citation for Studied Contempt, which will be given to the historian, preservationist, archivist, curator, or blogger who does the most to convince me that he or she does not want it.
If you’d like to refuse to be considered for this prestigious accolade, or if you’d like to refuse to nominate a colleague, then please send me an e-mail or letter explaining why receiving this award would be an unmitigated insult to your sense of decency, one so grievous that if I met you in person and absolutely insisted that you accept it, you would slap me briskly across the face with your glove, spit on my shoes, and cast aspersions on the chastity of all my female relatives.
Special consideration will be given to those nominees who express their disgust by leaving on my doorstep a note reading “Here’s what I think of you and your award,” taped to a cardboard box into which they have defecated.
All refusals should be submitted no later than Dec. 20th. Good luck!