Winners from the Class of 2020

Ilana Gruber, “Restricted or Protected? An Analysis of American Contraception Policy and Its Effects”

Focusing on the timely topic of women’s reproductive rights, Gruber analyzes the accessibility to contraception under the Affordable Care Act.  She argues that while there are obvious socioeconomic benefits to affordable birth control, “insurance loopholes, religious exemptions, and restrictive legislation” have prevented access to contraception.  Ultimately, she shows how the history of birth control reveals a constant struggle between restriction and protection as she argues for women’s right to determine their reproductive lives.  

Audrey Schlimm, “Sensation and the Subconscious within a Nightmare in The Eye in the Door”

Schlimm performs a finely nuanced close reading of The Eye in the Door, Pat Barker’s historical World War I novel Barker set in 1918 when Germany threatened to defeat Great Britain.  Schlimm’s analysis focuses on Lieutenant Billy Prior, who has recently returned from combat duty in France and is suffering from shell shock. Schlimm analyzes how the “eye in the door,” an image Billy encounters at a woman’s prison, haunts his nightmares.  As Schlimm argues, the eye “inspires fear and illuminates his own dueling natures” as he struggles to process the trauma of war.  

Cooper Wingert, “Headhunting, Planting and Governmentality: The Wa in Burma and China”

Wingert traces the effects of government policy on the lives of the Wa people in Burma and China.  He focuses on two cultural practices: swidden farming or the art of growing a variety of crops on a mountain slope, and headhunting or the retrieval of an enemy’s head for a ceremonial offering in a fertility rite.  Wingert thoughtfully examines how government policy aimed at assimilating the Wa into mainstream Chinese culture has “resulted in the destruction of artifacts of Wa heritage and culture.”