Skip to Content

Sharon Luk

Sharon Luk profile picture
  • Title: Assistant Professor, Academic Advisor
  • Phone: 541-346-9307
  • Office: 207 Alder Bldg
  • Office Hours: Spring Term: None
  • Affiliated Departments: Ethnic Studies


Ph.D. American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (2012)

M.A. Education, University of CA, Los Angeles (2006)

B.A. Comparative Literature and Ethnic Studies, Brown University (magna cum laude, 2001)


I was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area. Before pursuing an academic career, I worked mainly in fields of independent media and youth and community development, with training in domestic violence counseling and non-discursive techniques in abuse recovery. Broadly, my fields of study include racism and racial capitalism, ethnic ontologies, epistemology, social movements, feminisms, and ephemeral archives. My teaching and research focus on “anthropologizing” Western Civilization and exploring the role of cultural production in communal survival and sustainability.


My book, The Life of Paper: Letters and a Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity (University of California Press, 2017), explores the lifeworlds sustained through letter correspondence within the evolution of mass incarceration and its attendant racial regimes in California history. Spanning three different phases of development in the U.S. West, this investigation uncovers how people facing systematic social dismantling have engaged letter correspondence to remake themselves, from bodily integrity to subjectivity to collective and spiritual being.

My new research, tentatively titled “'Sea of Fire': A Buddhist Pedagogy of Dying and Black Encounters Across Two Waves," studies exchanges between engaged Buddhism and Black liberation theology beginning in 1965 in an effort to articulate a different approach towards a politics of death, or what scholars now call “necropolitics,” at this interface.


“Ourselves at Stake: Social Reproduction in the Age of Prisons,” article under review.

“The Problem of Study: China in American Studies and the Materials of Knowledge,” American Quarterly special issue on “The Chinese Factor,” 69.3 (forthcoming, 2017).

“A Better Place” (Intervention Symposium: Reflections on the Events Surrounding Trayvon Martin). Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography Online-Only (2013): n. pag. Web:

“Building People's Histories: Graduate Student Pedagogy, Undergraduate Education, and Collaboration with Community Partners” (co-authored with Genevieve Carpio [lead author] and Adam Bush). Journal of American History 99.4 (2013): 1176-88.

“Alienation.” Entry in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, Vol 1 (1900-1966), ed. Michael Ryan and Gregory Castle. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2011.


ENG 241 Introduction to African American Literature
ENG 242 Introduction to Asian American Literature
ES 250 Introduction to African American Studies
ES 252 Introduction to Asian American Studies
ENG 364 Comparative Ethnic American Literatures
ES 399 Race and Social Movements
ENG 407/CHC 424 Race, Culture, Incarceration
ENG 468/568 Ethnic American Literatures: Difference, Power, Knowledge
ENG 660 Racial Form and Economies of Surplus
ENG 660 Studies in Race and Ethnicity


Skip to toolbar