MGR Student Prize


The New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS) encourages the development of the skills of scholarly writing by awarding annual prizes for excellent student papers dealing with Asia. Two such prizes are awarded each year, one to an undergraduate student and one to a graduate student. Runners-up are named in each category.

The prizes honor the outstanding service of Dr. Marleigh Grayer Ryan, former Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor of Japanese Literature, and Coordinator of Asian Studies at SUNY New Paltz; and longtime Executive Secretary of NYCAS.

2021 Competition Information

Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate students at a college or university in New York State.

Field: East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Asia in diaspora, and Asian American studies.

Awards: The First Prize winners in the Undergraduate and Graduate categories each will receive a $100 prize; up to $200 reimbursement for travel and expenses to attend the NYCAS 2021 Annual Meeting; and a waiver of the NYCAS 2021 registration fee, including conference meals at the NYCAS meeting.

The Graduate Paper Prize winner will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the Association for Asian Studies and will be eligible to participate on a panel sponsored by the AAS Council on Conferences at the AAS annual meeting.

The Runner-up/Honorable Mention winners each will receive a waiver of the NYCAS 2021 registration fee, including conference meals at the NYCAS meeting.

The winning papers will be published on the NYCAS website and considered for presentation in a panel at the NYCAS meeting.

Format of papers: Papers should include a cover page giving the title of the paper, the student’s name, category, institution, and contact information (including current email and permanent mailing address).

Submission of papers: A student may submit only one entry. Papers may be submitted by the student author or by a faculty member acting on behalf of a student. A faculty member may not provide any evaluative comments at the time of nomination.

Papers should be submitted by email attachment only. Include an abstract of up to 150 words. Undergraduate papers are limited to 40 pages. Graduate papers are limited to 60 pages.

A submitted paper should stand alone and not be a segment of a larger work, such as a Senior Thesis, Masters’ Thesis, or Doctoral Dissertation.

Please include a completed cover sheet with your application. Attach the pdf cover sheet along with your paper in your submission email.

Entry deadline: June 1, 2021

Notification of awards by July 15, 2021

Submit papers by email attachment to:

Professor Tiantian Zheng, Chair

NYCAS Marleigh Grayer Ryan Prize Committee

NYCAS Congratulates the Winners of the 2020 Writing Prize Competition!

Graduate Prize Winner

J. Travis Shutz

Binghamton University

“Chaozhou Pirates, Zhangzhou Traders, and Quanzhou Sailors: Mediators Between the Ming and Spanish Empires in the Late Sixteenth Century”

Abstract.  Over the course of three days in late 1574, Chinese pirates twice raided Spanish Manila. Despite intermittent historical relations between China and Luzon, the assault brought about the first meetings between officials from the Ming and Spanish empires. Adopting a microhistorical perspective, this study examines the maritime Chinese who mediated these interactions. With a focus on the place of nonstate actors in Chinese engagement with the outside world, the essay builds upon the concept of the merchant-military-mediator triad created by the late John Wills Jr.

Graduate Honorable Mention Winner

Du Fei

Cornell University

“Fatima’s inheritance: Three Itineraries of Law Between Early Modern Aceh, India, and Europe”

Abstract. This paper traces the journey of a lawsuit and the textual remain it left behind in Aceh, India, and Europe between the seventeenth and eighteenth century. This suit, taking place between the daughter of a merchant family named Fatima and a slave that the family owned, provides a unique entry point into the under-explored histories of the various roles that law played in the contexts of the Indian Ocean trade, Persianate literary culture, and early European Orientalism. Through the close reading of a key Persian text as well as its materiality, I argue that the ostensibly global journey of the Fatima case in fact consists of three different itineraries that were linked together by a series of mismatches in the process of textual and material transmission. In this sense, the suit invites us to revisit our current historiographical debates about global microhistory and glocal history.

Undergraduate Prize Winner

Taylor Armijo

St. Lawrence University

“In An Era of Reform: Reimagining Government Control in the Chinese Film Industry”

Abstract.   This paper examines the Chinese government’s ability to control the Chinese film industry despite growing liberalization and commercialization of film in the reform era. The government appeared to exercise strategic censorship and implement intentional structural reforms that placed the state at key areas within the filmmaking process and industry. This paper argues that censorship is a product of the social and political climate, rather than a constant and unmoving standard. Moreover, fluctuations in the degree of censorship and the selective structural reforms allowed Deng Xiaoping’s regime to facilitate economic goals but also protect itself from social and political unrest.

Undergraduate Honorable Mention Winner

Meghan Reilly

Union College

“Ancient Greek in Chinese Translation: The Sinicization’ of Euripides’ Medea”

Abstract. This paper explores two Chinese translations of Euripides' Medea, juxtaposed with the original ancient Greek, to investigate how each translation accommodates (or does not) a Chinese audience. The translations of Luo Niansheng (1938) and Zhang Lihua (2009) are compared with each other, with attention paid to two factors in particular: the 'sinicization' of the ancient Greek with the insertion of Chinese idioms and references to ancient Chinese classics; and explicit mentions of sex, which defy typical Chinese convention and yet are not unusual in the Greek. In addition, I discuss other factors, in particular those of a cultural nature, that influence the ways in which a Chinese audience may interpret a work of Greek tragedy.