Christopher Govang: The judges selected selected "Go To Hell with your Theatre: The Role of Performance in Athol Fugard’s The Island" (PDF). In straightforward, no-nonsense prose, Christopher Govang takes up Athol Fugard’s apartheid-era play The Island, which he reads against Judith Butler's ideas of performative gender. As Govang argues, The Island offers a complicated portrayal of gender and politics through the characters of John and Winston. Prisoners at Robben Island, these men perform Antigone, a play that allows them to act out the roles of a free man (Creon) and a powerful woman (Antigone). For Govang, the play-within-a-play becomes both "a critique of the time period" and a "dissection of the gender binary and other systems of oppression." His closing observation—that the audience helps "create the tools of John and Winston’s oppression" is evocative and powerful.
MaryKate Boggan: The judges selected "White Feminist/Supremacist Theory in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland" (PDF). MaryKate Boggin’s essay on the influence of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland on second wave feminism's prioritization of white women's bodies uses an impressive amount of academic research to link Perkins’ work to the feminists who later embraced it but did not acknowledge its links to eugenics and race. Boggan’s exceptional essay is unstinting about the devastating effects that thinkers like Perkins, as well as related public policies, had upon the reproductive rights of women of color. While bolstering her argument with historical and sociological evidence, she grounds it firmly within the framework of Perkins’ 1915 utopian novel.
Charles A. Peters Prize
Erin Flynn: The judges selected “Evil as Goodness and Ignorance as Intellect: Eve’s Predicament in Paradise Lost” (PDF). Erin Flynn’s essay sets out an incisive critique of the logic and language that shapes Satan’s appeal to Eve in Eden. With a sharp eye for the mixture of bodily performance, rhetorical misdirection, and semantic subtlety that marks Satan’s work, Flynn combines close readings of lines, phrases, and single words into a well-crafted argument that puts Eve’s “honorable human qualities”—her tragic, fallible heroism—at the center of the scene. “Earth felt the wound.” We loved the essay.
1940 Creative Writing Competition
Mohini Ghoshroy wrote the winning submission for poetry for the poems "On Ice," "Skinny Dog," and "The World Is a Museum and Nobody Cares." The nearly one hundred entries for the Class of 1940 Prize in Poetry illustrate the impressive skill of undergraduate poets at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as their many different approaches to the genre. Congratulations go to all who submitted. The winning poet’s several different speakers explore difficult questions through a layer of ironic calm and great comic timing.
Shawn Bajwa wrote the winning submission for fiction for the story “Do Not Lose Your Head." "Don't Lose Your Head" echoes eerily among the lethal addictions of the 21st century: drugs, alcohol, fossil fuels. The story is grave and metaphoric, quirky and swift. Wickedness is everywhere; abuses of power are methodical and violent. And yet the narrator finds a way of living his life as "a curse that became a gift."
W. Scott Jeffery Award: Ryan D’Alleva
Cleo Zoukis Ploussious Scholarship: Abby Wing
Frank Prentice Rand Scholarship: Michael McGuire
General John A. and Evangeline W. Maginnis Scholarship: Laidine Teixeira Barbosa and Grace Lucey
Mary McGarry Morris and Margaret McGarry Chiriaco Scholarship: Cailyn Beamenderfer and Arianna Morales
Celeste M. and John F. Loughman Scholarship: Abigail Mooney and Arensa Morisset
English Opportunity Scholarships: MaryKate Boggan, Emma Gill, Tiffany Huynh, and Anna Shahbazyan
Oxford Summer Seminar Scholarships: Gianna Caforio, Eamon Eliot, Faithe Shatford, Emma Gill, Eliza Keenan, Michael Thompson, Genevieve Sharago, Cailyn Beamenderfer, and Samantha Meagher
Field Scholarship: Samantha Gallant