Rodrigo Lazo, English professor and associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion for UCI’s Graduate Division, is the recipient of the 2021 Early American Literature Book Prize, bestowed by the journal Early American Literature, a publication of the University of North Carolina Press. Lazo’s Letters from Filadelfia: Early Latino Literature and the Trans-American Elite was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2020 as part of its “Writing the Early Americas” imprint.
Letters from Filadelfia focuses on Spanish-language writing published in Philadelphia in the early 19th century and challenges the excessively Anglophone and Anglocentric conceptions of traditional American literature and culture.
The prize committee praised Letters from Filadelfia for its archival depth and theoretical innovation. One committee member said, “We’ll never look at Philadelphia in quite the same way again.” As the most important Spanish-language printing center in the United States from the 1790s through the 1830s, Philadelphia served as a hub for intellectuals fighting against Spanish colonialism in the southern Americas.
Lazo’s research is in American literature, broadly conceived across the Americas, with a focus on writers and texts that are concerned with migration, movement, geographic displacement and communication across distance. He is also the co-editor of The Latino Nineteenth Century (NYU Press, 2016).