The English Department’s very own Dr. Chandler’s essay “Slum Simulacra: Jack Kerouac, Oscar Lewis, and Cultures of Poverty” was chosen by Anne A. Cheng, a Professor of English at Princeton, to win the Kappel Prize for 2022. Cheng notes that “’Slum Simulacra: Jack Kerouac, Oscar Lewis, and Cultures of Poverty’ offers a wildly engaging story about the genealogy of the aspirations and contradictions behind 20th-century American countercultural thinking about the question of poverty.” Dr. Chandler’s exploration of the external and internal layers of the existence and effects of poverty further reveal the entwinement of dueling perspectives within the conversation about the “culture of poverty.”

At the top of page three Dr. Chandler writes, “Cultural constructions of poverty date to at least the mid-nineteenth century, as Gavin Jones’s American Hungers (2009) demonstrates, and Lewis often couched his thesis in language reminiscent of earlier attacks on pauperism. Yet Lewis’s anthropological reframing of poverty proved influential, his work in Mexico and Puerto Rico transforming both conservative and progressive social intuitions about the nature of poverty amid prosperity.”

Dr. Chandler’s essay dives into a deep analysis about the contradictory construction of poverty and the sectors of society that house different perceptions of internalized and external characters of poverty that are changing over time. Congratulations Dr. Chandler on being the recipient of the 2022 Kappel Prize and thank you for spurring forward the conversation and literary work focused in acknowledging the “culture of poverty.”