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Matthew Lowenstein from the Department of History and Jennifer Lu from the Department of Psychology have been selected as the 2022 Saller Prize Recipients by a faculty review committee.

Lowenstein’s dissertation, Financial Markets in Late Imperial China, 1820-1911, uncovers previously understudied material in Sichuan, China’s most populous province, coupled with findings from across China to demonstrate that in late imperial and republican China “market mechanisms distributed capital and credit throughout the economy, both horizontally across different regions and vertically between different sectors of society.” Steven Pincus, the Thomas E. Donnelly Professor and Chair of the Teaching & Fellowships Committee in the Department of History, emphasized in his letter of recommendation that “the materials Lowenstein examined were extremely difficult ones to work with.  They were written in a hard to decipher shorthand that only a handful of scholars have cracked.” He continued, “His committee members note that this dissertation is already making waves in the field, and that it ranks as one of the best dissertations they have read in their long careers.” 

Lu’s dissertation, Emerging deictic systems shaped by language, modality, and social interaction, analyzes the pronominal system developed by deaf children acquiring American Sign Language (ASL). The work compared deaf children learning ASL to hearing children learning English, and found that the deaf children’s pronominal points followed the same developmental pattern as the hearing children’s pronominal words.  Susan Goldin-Meadow, Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor and Lu’s dissertation advisor, wrote of her thesis, “this work is path-breaking in that it shows the parallels between deaf children’s signs and hearing children’s words; it suggests a technique for distinguishing signs from pointing gestures; and it contributes to what we know about homesigners’ ability to create language.” Goldin-Meadow concluded her letter of recommendation by noting “I expect both papers to be significant contributions not only to the sign language and acquisition literatures, but also to what we know about the aspects of our current day language that reflect how we organize the world for communication.”

This year’s faculty review committee members were Ufuk Akcigit (Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics), Paul Cheney (Department of History), Michele Friedner (Department of Comparative Human Development), Adrian Johns (Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science), Andrei Pop (John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought), Brian Prendergast (Department of Psychology), Kristen Schilt (Department of Sociology), Mareike Winchell (Anthropology)

The award is named for Richard P. Saller, the tenth Provost of the University of Chicago (2002-2006) and former Dean of the Division of the Social Sciences (1994-2002). Professor Saller joined the University of Chicago as an Associate Professor of Anthropology in 1984. He was awarded the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1992 and was named the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor. He left UChicago in 2007 for Stanford University where he served as Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences until 2018. He is presently the the Kleinheinz Family Professor of European Studies at Stanford.

A full list of all Saller Prize recipients is available at https://socialsciences.uchicago.edu/about/divisional-awards/saller-prize