The Sally Hacker Prize was established in 1999 to honor exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience. Any book published in the three years preceding the year of the award is eligible. The prize consists of an award of $2,000.
Alexander Monea, George Mason University
For: The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight (MIT Press, 2023).
The Sally Hacker Prize Committee proudly recognizes The Digital Closet as work of exceptional scholarship that will resonate with the public at large as strongly it does within the academy. Monea’s groundbreaking work is fearless and counterintuitive, addressing urgent contemporary issues surrounding digital identity, privacy, and surveillance. Through a meticulous excavation of the hidden heteronormative biases entrenched within our online world—from algorithms and content moderation to keyword tagging—Monea conveys in propulsive and crisp prose how the internet has been systematically straightened, sidelining and silencing LGBTQIA+ voices in the process. His discovery of unexpected alliances within anti-porn movements and the consequent censorship of essential non-pornographic material not only challenges our assumptions but demands a wholesale reevaluation of the very infrastructure of our digital lives. The Digital Closet urges us to grapple with the challenges of digital personhood and self-discovery, and question the very spacetime of the internet we navigate on a daily basis.