Senior Thesis Papers Awarded Top Prizes by English Department

In the third quarter of senior year, each senior writes a thesis paper on a topic of their choice ranging from political literature, gender roles, race relations to dystopian depictions of society. The following students' thesis papers were deemed the best by the English department.

Natalie Eckert

For her deft analysis of the way Edith Wharton plays on the double meaning of the word "race" - as both a competition and an intrinsic identity to critique the class essentialism that structured the early-twentieth-century United States. Her paper, "Is the American Dream Dead?: The Inflexibility of Class Essentialism and the Severity of Punishments in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth," identifies the dire consequences Wharton's characters face when seeking to transcend their economic circumstances, and persuasively argues for greater class mobility and self-determination in the face of a society set on confining people to the status in which they were born.

Apara Kashyap

For her energetic exploration of the ways in which the imposition of stereotypical gender roles on women from a 19th-century play and a 21st-century graphic novel forces them to seek new and nontraditional families outside of their own, in order to discover and redefine who they really are. In her thesis, "The Road Home is Paved with Good Intentions: How the Pressure of Conformity in A Doll's House and Fun Home Restricts the Formation of an Identity," she shows that this imperative is fraught with pain and risk, but also reward.

Emma Smith

For her insightful comparison of the perception of time and its implications for personal responsibility in two wildly different novels - one which combines historical and science fiction, and the other which falls into the category of magical realism. Her essay, "The Cycle of Life, and of Death: Predestination and the Danger of Belief in Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Slaughterhouse-Five," exposes the weakness of those who claim that nothing can be done to prevent the spread and reoccurrence of evil in communities and countries throughout the world.

Phoebe Taylor

For her original and timely study in which she shows that the ways in which the unrealistic demands and expectations placed on early twentieth-century women - epitomized by Coventry's Patmore's poem "The Angel in the House" - not only inspires Virginia Woolf to question the reasons for women's limited roles in fiction and art to open up more opportunities, but also inspires similar questions and responses to Hillary Clinton's recent bid for the presidency. Her essay, "Killing the Angel in the House: A Room of One's Own, Patmore's Brand of Patriarchy, and Hillary Clinton as the Sacrificial Woman for Modern Feminism" successfully unites two groundbreaking women, from two different centuries and professions, to show the value and effect of questioning unchallenged assumptions.

Thanks to all those in the English department who guided and advised the students in this project that tests and develops their critical thinking and writing skills in a long format.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize winners for 2018 were also awarded: "Vicissitudes" by Juanita Asapokhai ’20, "Benthos" by Janvi Sikand and "The Last Time I'll Say It" by Phoebe Taylor ’18.
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