Every year, the Journal of the History of Ideas awards the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best first book in intellectual history.
The winner of the 2022 prize is Nathan Vedal, for The Culture of Language in Ming China: Sound, Script, and the Redefinition of Boundaries of Knowledge, published by Columbia University Press.
The judging committee offers this statement about the book:
This year’s winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Book Prize is Nathan Vedal for his book The Culture of Language in Ming China: Sound, Script, and the Redefinition of Boundaries of Knowledge, published in 2022 by Columbia University Press. Recent years have witnessed a close reexamination of the early modern history of Chinese philology, to which Vedal’s volume makes an extraordinary contribution. Based on sources, primary and secondary, in a plethora of languages, Vedal draws attention to the distinctive work of Chinese scholars in the latter part of the Ming dynasty, drawing on work in the fields of the history of science, comparative linguistics, music, cosmology, and more. While studies of the Chinese language have blossomed in recent years, Vedal’s work stands out for its great breadth and depth, attending to a multitude of better- and lesser-known scholars, and the unexpected connections at play in their theories of language.
Nathan Vedal is an assistant professor in the department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto.
Honorable mention for the 2022 prize goes to Mackenzie Cooley for The Perfection of Nature: Animals, Breeding, and Race in the Renaissance (University of Chicago Press).