Category Archives: Biography Prize

Congratulations Biography Prize Co-Winners 2022!

The Center for Biographical Research is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Biography Prize for outstanding creative, critical, or theoretical work in the field of life writing by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate students. 

This year’s awardees produced outstanding research on Hawaiʻi subjects. The doctoral award goes to a full biography of a 20th century Hawaiʻi artist. The masters award this year is especially notable, as it honors the first prize-winning submission composed entirely in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. More detailed descriptions of the projects, and the judges’ comments appear below. 

“Juliette May Fraser: A Kamaʻāina Life in Art” by Sharon Weiner

The judges appreciated how detailed, well researched, and clearly written your chapter was. We found the details about camouflage work particularly interesting. We also admired how you put the chapter’s details, many of them seemingly mundane, together in a compelling way to tell a rich narrative about Fraser and her expanding circle of influence. As well, we appreciated the diversity of your sources, and your skill in providing contexts for those featured in the chapter.

“Heleleʻi Ka Ua Lilinoe, Ola Ka Honua” by Jacob Hauʻoli Lorenzo-Elarco

The evaluator described how you used an arresting framework to address how we come up with pen names; your extensive research in the Hawaiian-language newspapers along with pertinent secondary/English-language sources; and your success in combining intellectual biography and using clues in that work to write a speculative biography on limited information. He also appreciated your discussion of kapu, and your writing style, which he found reminiscent of the nineteenth century author you are writing about. He praised your use of sustained metaphors of mist, rain and water that he noted would be particularly valued by those who read traditional moʻolelo. Our committee reached clear consensus based on these strengths that your thesis is deserving of the prize.

2022 Biography Prize Nominations Now Open

Criteria for Nomination:

  • The candidate should be a PhD or MA student in any graduate department of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (or have graduated with an MA or PhD in December 2021).
  • The submission can be work written for a class, a section of a thesis or dissertation, or a completed thesis or dissertation. If written for a class, it should be work completed between May 2021 and April 2022 (and not previously submitted for a Biography Prize).

The project should be 3,000 to 10,000 words in length. Longer projects can be submitted in their entirety, with a particular chapter or section highlighted for consideration. The work should demonstrate knowledge or awareness of central debates and theorizing in the field and study of life writing.

Please send nominations (graduate student’s name and subject or title of project) and contact information to Paige Rasmussen (biograph@hawaii.edu) by Thursday, April 14.

Once you send your nomination, the Center for Biographical Research will notify the student to arrange for submission of the project. Candidates may also nominate their own work for the award. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 25.

The winner of the Biography Prize receives a monetary award and is invited to give a presentation in the Brown Bag Biography lecture series.

2020 Biography Prize

Congratulations to the co-winners of this year’s Biography Prize–Aiko Yamashiro and Amy Carlson!

Aiko was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Nā Hua Ea & Building Decolonial Community (writing poetry with ‘āina and each other).” The judges found her work to provide the kind of community history that too often goes unattended. They were impressed by how, in doing so, she lovingly honors the work of poet/organizers who play such an important part in making Hawai’i a place of vitality where decolonial love can flourish.

Amy was awarded the prize for her dissertation, “Reading Mediated Identities: Auto/Biographical Agency in the Material Book, Museum Space, Social Media Platforms, and Archives.” The judges found her work to be beautifully written, persuasive, important, and contributory in how it brings together life writing and archival/library studies, and extremely well conceptualized. They found it an absolute pleasure to read and can imagine how useful it will be for students of Cultural Studies in Asia/Pacific.

2019 Biography Prize

No’ukahau’oli Revilla and Lyz Soto are the recipients of the 2019 Biography Prize. Congratulations to both of these amazing scholars and writers.  Both won the prize for their recently defended dissertations. No’ukahau’oli Revillaʻs dissertation is entitled If We Vanish: A Collection of Queer ‘Ōiwi Poetry. The title of Lyz Sotoʻs dissertation is About Homelands Speaking\Her Bodies of Stories.