The Dean James E. McLeod First-Year Writing Prize was created to award students in the College of Arts & Sciences who engage in research that explores some aspect of race, gender, and/or identity. This year’s winners were recognized in a ceremony held Sept. 10. CeCe Heard and Grace MacArthur shared first prize, and Elizabeth Schwartz received an honorable mention. They won for the following essays:
CeCe Heard: “Racializing Sexuality: Vocining the Forced Silence of Young Black Queers on TV”
Grace MacArthur: “Queer as Folklore: How Fun Home Destabilizes the Metronormative Myth”
Elizabeth Schwartz: “Gentrifried: The Foodways of Neoliberal Urban Redevelopment in St. Louis”
Each yeah, the prize is awarded to first-year students who author original research papers that explore some aspect of race, gender, and/or identity. Sowande’ Mustakeem, an assistant professor of history and African and African-American studies, was inspired to start the prize by her first class of incoming freshman in 2010. The prize then announced its inaugural recipients in 2013.
Dean McLeod, the namesake for this award, was a great supporter of intellectual engagement and the transformation that can occur when students immerse themselves in the study of subjects they passionately care about. Both winners seem to exemplify such a transformation. The long-term goal of this prize is to encourage students to seek further opportunities to cultivate their intellectual interests, though Jennifer Smith, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, offered an expansion on the function of the prize: “This prize recognizes the importance of both scholarship and communication around issues of identity. Society is facing significant challenges not only in understanding these issues but also in finding a common language to engage in conversations across our differences.”
Congratulations to this year's winners on their fantastic achievement!