Mac grad wins Arlt Award for book on hypochondria
Humanities, and is the first from a Canadian university to do so.
George Grinnell, now an assistant professor of English at the University of British
Columbia (Okanagan), received the award for his literature research book, The Age of
The 35-year-old says he couldn't have done it without some of the skills and methods
he developed on campus.
"McMaster's English program is a deeply supportive and collegial environment," says
"I felt respected and appreciated as soon as I arrived, and was supported by a vibrant
intellectual community during my entire four years."
The Gustave O. Arlt Award is bestowed upon a "scholar-teacher" who has published a
notable book in his or her field. The competition changes each year, with Grinnell
earning top honours in the category of English and North American Language and
He was nominated by Professor Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and dean of
Graduate Studies at McMaster, and the basis for the book came from a doctoral
dissertation supervised by McMaster English Professor David Clark.
"He is tremendously supportive and unbelievably generous with his intellect, as well as
his time," says Grinnell.
Grinnell completed his PhD at McMaster in 2005, and continued to work on the book
during a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University.
Published in 2010, The Age of Hypochondria focuses on authors such as Mary Shelley,
Mary Prince, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and other Romantic-era writers, and how their
work helped shape modern notions of hypochondria.
Those who suffer from the condition often develop a fear of illness itself, which can be
fuelled by anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.
"Hypochondria fascinates me, because it marks a pressing difficulty for medicine and
culture at the turn of the nineteenth century," says Grinnell. "Nothing lets us down like
our bodies or our minds in the most unpredictable of ways."
He received the award on Dec. 8, during the Council of Graduate Schools Annual
Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Grinnell topped a field of scholars and researchers from across North America, and is
the first from a non-U.S. institution to receive the award.
"The award speaks very highly of George's scholarly ability, David Clark's mentorship
and the strength of our PhD program in English that George rose to the top as the
cream of that crop," says Sekuler.