Two Women Academics Awarded Pulitzer Prizes

Natalie Diaz, an associate professor of English at Arizona State University, has been awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020). Professor Diaz has said that “for me, poetry is one way I center myself in my body. I really believe in the physical power of poetry, of language. Where we come from, we say language has an energy, and I feel that it’s a physical energy.”

A Macarthur Foundation fellow, Professor Diaz recently made history by becoming the youngest chancellor ever elected to the Academy of American Poets. Her earlier collection – When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)) – won the American Book Award.

Professor Diaz grew up on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, which straddles the borders of California, Nevada, and Arizona. She received her bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she played on the university’s women’s basketball team. She went on to play professionally in Europe and Asia. Professor Diaz returned to Old Dominion University for a master’s of fine arts degree, which she received in 2007.

Marcia Chatelain, a professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., won the Pulitzer Prize in history for her book Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America (Liveright, 2020). The prize committee stated that Chatelain’s book is “a nuanced account of the complicated role the fast-food industry plays in African American communities and a portrait of race and capitalism that masterfully illustrates how the fight for civil rights has been intertwined with the fate of Black businesses.”

A native of Chicago, Professor Chatelain also authored South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration (Duke University Press, 2015). Before joining the faculty at Georgetown, she was a Reach for Excellence Assistant Professor of Honors and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Chatelain is a graduate of the University of Missouri, where she majored in religious studies and journalism. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in American civilization from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

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