Professor receives esteemed literary prize

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Professor Christina Sharpe, the Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University, is among this year’s recipients of Windham-Campbell Prizes. The awards seek to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns, with a cash award of US$175,000.

Christina Sharpe close-up portrait
Christina Sharpe

The award recognizes Sharpe’s collective work for its efforts to recalibrate images of Black existence by exploring the complex relationship between language and Black being.

It especially singles out her most recent award-winning work, Ordinary Notes, for how it manages to “demonstrate, brilliantly, how beauty, as an attention to everything, can be a method and a radical force not just for recognizing and refusing antiblack structures and logics but for contending with their continuation into the brutality of the present.”

Sharpe receiving a Windham-Campbell Prize is the latest success in a wave of accomplishments since Ordinary Notes was published in April 2023. Sharpe was awarded the 2023 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction for the book, and it also was named a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction. It was also named a top 10 book of the year by The Atlantic, and among the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2023.

In a video interview created by the Windham-Campbell Prizes, Sharpe says of the goal of her work, “It’s important to me to try to speak to as broad an audience as I can and for the work to travel in all kinds of ways.”

This most recent award – and the funding it will provide for future efforts – will surely ensure she can continue to meet that aim.