Carlina Duan and Kavitha Iyengar were announced as the winners of the 2013-2014 American Culture Undergraduate Writing Awards. Competition in this year's contest was stiff with an unusually high number of excellent entries. Among those many brilliant essays, Carlina and Kavitha's captured the attention of the committee.
Carlina Duan, currently an English honors student and a minor in the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies program, wrote a memorable reflection entitled "I am Not a Geisha." Carlina thoughtfully considered how some of her own experiences have been informed by the larger discourses on race and gender that circulate in the United States. The interconnections that she made between representations of Asians and Asian Americans in consumer culture, media, and local campus events showed admirable scope. The essay had a compelling trajectory that ran from Carlina's memory of a difficult adolescent Halloween to the condescension and micro-aggressions that all too often continue to occur at most universities today.
Taking us beyond the contemporary, American Culture major and honors student Kavitha Iyengar delivered a history paper entitled "The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: Creating the Mexican-American Frontier." Kavitha assessed the shifting circumstances that Mexicans and Mexican Americans faced in New Mexico during the nineteenth century. Kavitha drew together a complimentary set of primary and secondary sources from 1850, 1870, and 1880 to think through the changing terms and meanings of U.S. citizenship. Her paper presented a fresh outlook she had on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in both its English and Spanish translations. All of this suggests that Kavitha is poised to become a brilliant historian and Latina/o Studies scholar.
Congratulations to both Kavitha and Carlina! They represent the amazing talent of all the Department of American Culture's undergraduate students and the ongoing mission of the department to produce critically engaged scholarship.