On behalf of the CAAS executive and the Redekop Prize committee:
The committee charged with selecting the winner of this year’s Redekop Prize for the best essay in volume 50 (2020) of the Canadian Review of American Studies have decided to give the award to Brian Jansen of the University of Maine for “’It’s Still Real to Me’: Contemporary Professional Wrestling, Neo-Liberalism, and the Problems of Performed/Real Violence” (CRAS 50.2).
Jansen’s essay presents a valuable account of the nefarious logic of neo-liberalism via a persuasively crafted discussion of the individuals and practices associated with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Drawing on an extraordinarily wide range of scholarly and popular discussions of the wrestling industry, Jansen succeeds in using the employment practices of the WWE to demonstrate some of the new and often elusive forms of exploitation that affect a wide swath of workers in the United States and beyond. At the same time, Jansen’s essay pursues a nuanced discussion of the WWE’s (and its fans’) complex relationship to the rhetoric of realism. To consume WWE is to inhabit a peculiar borderland between the real and the performed suffering of those who generate the industry’s enormous profits, but Jansen’s essay helps us to read that space and the more general terrain of neoliberal rationality to which it belongs.
The committee has also selected one essay for an Honourable Mention:
Jason Haslam (Dalhousie University), “Chain-Gang Gothic: The Colonel’s Dream and the Spectacular Terrors of State Punishment” (CRAS 50.2).
Congratulations to Brian Jansen and Jason Haslam for their excellent essays, and thanks to Paul Downes (University of Toronto), David Hollingshead (MacEwan University), and Ariana Potichnyj (Western University) for serving on this year’s Redekop Prize committee.