UCLA English Professor Uri McMillian to Receive MLA’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize for An Outstanding Scholarly Study for African American Literature or Culture

New York, NY – 6 December 2016 –

The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its fifteenth annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize to Uri McMillan, of the University of California, Los Angeles, for his book Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance, published by New York University Press. Nadia Ellis, of the University of California, Berkeley, has received an honorable mention for her book Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora, published by Duke University Press, and Angela Naimou, of Clemson University, has received an honorable mention for her book Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood, published by Fordham University Press. The prize is awarded for an outstanding scholarly study of African American literature or culture.

The William Sanders Scarborough Prize is one of seventeen awards that will be presented on 7 January 2017, during the association’s annual convention, to be held in Philadelphia. The members of the selection committee were Aliyyah Inaya Abdur-Rahman (Brandeis Univ.); David Ikard (Univ. of Miami), chair; and Magdalena J. Zaborowska (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor). The committee’s citation for the winning book reads:

With brilliant insights and deeply inspired textual analysis at every turn of the page, Uri McMillan’s Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance is simply dazzling. A tour de force, this study traces two centuries of black women’s performance practice, arguing that black women have masterfully converted experiences of objectification and objecthood into radical art praxis from the nineteenth century through the contemporary period. A model for effective and probing interdisciplinary analysis, Embodied Avatars charts new terrain in gender and sexuality studies, visual culture studies, black cultural studies, and performance theory. What it ultimately teaches us is how, under the most persistent and pervasive experiences of unfreedom, black women innovate artful practices of resistance, refusal, and radical self-possession.

Uri McMillan is an associate professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a cultural historian who researches and writes in the interstices between black cultural studies, performance studies, queer theory, and contemporary art. He has published articles on performance art, digital media, hip-hop, photography, and nineteenth-century performance cultures in varied arenas such as Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, and e-misferica. McMillan has also lectured at art museums, including MoMA PS1 and the Hammer Museum, and published numerous essays on black contemporary art for the Studio Museum of Harlem. His work has been supported by the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.