The American Culture Undergraduate Committee announced the winners of the seventh annual American Culture Undergraduate Writing Award. The 2015 winners were Ariel Kaplowitz, Patrick Mullen-Coyoy, and Nour Soubani. The committee selected these essays for their contribution to understanding an aspect of American culture, including issues emerging from race and ethnic studies, history, literature, media studies, performance studies, women’s studies, LGBTQ studies, the social sciences, and other related fields. Essays were also judged on their originality and the clarity of presentation.
Ariel Kaplowitz is a graduating senior with Honors and the Residential College, a double-major in American Culture and Creative Writing and Literature, and a minor in Inter-Group Relations. Her paper, “Mujeres Por La Causa: Chicana Feminists in the International Women’s Year” is an original research paper based on the Chicana Por Mi Raza archive. It uses archival materials to construct a historical narrative documenting Chicana feminist involvement in the International Women’s Year conference in 1975 and activism that followed from 1975-1977. The committee appreciated her perceptive readings of Chicana’s struggles for inclusion and effort to write Chicanas into the history of feminism.
Patrick Mullen-Coyoy is a sophomore with Honors and a double-major in Spanish and Latino/a Studies. His paper, “A Not-So-New Colossus: United States Response to Central American Immigration in the Mid-1980s and the Mid-2010s,” compares two historical moments of U.S. immigration policy towards Central American refugees. It shows how the situation of refugees from Central America needs to be understood in relation to U.S. policies in the region. The committee was impressed with his insightful grasp of issues of immigration, refugees, and civil conflict between the US and Central America.
Nour Soubani is a graduating senior with Honors and a triple-major in American Culture, International Studies, and AAPTIS. Her paper, “Complicating the Arab-American Identity: The Role of War and Violence in Arab-American Creative Writing from 2001-2014,” examines poetry written by Arab Americans after 9/11. Her examination highlights recurring themes in the poetry: physical displacement, war, diaspora, and military aggression. The committee admired the perceptive readings of post-9/11 Arab American poetic production and the interconnections made between U.S. demonization of Arab Americans and multiple struggles around identity.