The Modern Language Association of America recently announced it is awarding its 15th annual William Sanders Scarborough Prize to Uri McMillan, associate professor of English at UCLA, for his book "Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance," published by New York University Press.
The William Sanders Scarborough Prize is one of 17 awards that will be presented on Jan. 7, 2017, during the association’s annual convention, to be held in Philadelphia.
The selection committee’s citation for the winning book reads in part: "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."
McMillan 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 19th-century performance cultures. 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.