Sharon Luk honored with book prize for “The Life of Paper”

Luk Receives Matei Calinescu Prize from the Modern Language Association

Sharon Luk, assistant professor in the UO Department of Ethnic Studies, has been awarded the Matei Calinescu Prize for her book, The Life of Paper: Letters and Poetics of Living Beyond Capacity. The award is given by the Modern Language Association, which works to strengthen the study and teaching of languages and literature.

CSWS supported Professor Luk’s research for this book with a 2015-16 Faculty Research Grant.

The Calinescu Prize was established in 2016 in honor of Romanian poet Matei Calinescu, and is given in recognition of a distinguished work of scholarship in 20th- or 21st-century literature and thought.

The MLA committee’s citation for the winning book reads:

“Sharon Luk’s The Life of Paper: Letters and a Poetics of Living beyond Captivity examines in moving, instructive, and poetic ways what letters can mean to people whose lives were and are radically disrupted by racialized incarceration and regionalized state confinement. Luk helps us see the epistolary genre chronotopically, both as more complex than we may have imagined and as more relevant to the contemporary period than we may have assumed. Focusing on the archives of migrants from China between 1890 and 1920, families of Japanese ancestry interred in camps during World War II, and letters reflecting the socialities of blackness in the post-civil-rights era, Luk constructs a poetics that links capitalism with forms of apartheid. This is an important, well-researched, and fascinating theoretical and historical meditation and will add significantly to sociopoetics, studies of California history, histories of incarceration, investigations of ethnoracial United States politics, and theories of care and technologies of the self.”