AMCS Announces the Winners of the 2018 Lynne Cooper Harvey Undergraduate Writing Prize

posted by Máire Murphy

on April 11th, 2018

The AMCS Lynne Cooper Harvey Undergraduate Writing Prize recognizes outstanding writing on a topic in American culture and is awarded every Spring. The Writing Prize Selection Committee decided to share the 2018 award between two papers, Ashley Holder’s “The Loop’s Race Problem” (written for L98 3190: Engaging the City: The Material World of Modern Segregation, taught by Iver Bernstein and Heidi Kolk) and Victoria Rabuse’s “Hamilton as a Misrepresentation of the True Hamilton” (written for L98 3360: Hammerstein to Hamilton: The Broadway Musical and American Cultural Politics, taught by Ashley Pribyl). The papers were nominated by the course instructors.

The Writing Prize Selection Committee reviewed many strong papers, but these papers stood out among them. Both demonstrate nuanced cultural analysis and research in a multidisciplinary framework and show the relevance of American cultural studies to pressing issues close to home and nationally.

Ashley’s paper analyzed how “the congratulatory rhetoric about diversity and development conceals the ways that the Delmar Loop is a racialized space where discrimination and exclusion manifest in the fabric of the built environment.” The committee was impressed with how the paper moved between the recovery of a sometimes invisible history and the sense of nostalgia provoked by developers, while grappling with the tensions between them. Ashley brought a sense of urgency to questions of racial divide, space, and investment at WU’s front door, and wove a complicated story into an engaging narrative. [quoting Ashley Holder]

Victoria put forth a bold thesis about the musical, Hamilton, “calling into question the assumed liberal leanings of the show and challenges choices made by composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, including his choice to make a show about Hamilton at all.” The paper reframes the musical and compels the reader to critique congratulatory responses from critics who view Hamilton as a rebuke of contemporary politics. Like Ashley’s paper, Victoria's paper is original, timely, convincingly argued and creatively sourced, and exemplifies excellent undergraduate writing in cultural studies. [quoting nominator Ashley Pribyl]

The winner of the Writing Prize is announced at the AMCS Spring Research Colloquium and also recognized at the AMCS year-end BBQ (May 1, 4pm, McMillan Courtyard). The award comes with a cash prize.

Ashley Holder is a senior from Potomac, Maryland studying Architecture and Art History. At Wash U she is involved in City Faces, Architecture School Council, and Chi Omega. After graduation she hopes to pursue a career in social impact design. She wrote "The Loop's Race Problem" during her junior spring for Heidi Kolk and Iver Bernstein's Materializing Segregation class.

Victoria Rabuse is a Washington University senior majoring in English Literature and History, with a minor in Writing. At the time of writing this paper, she was in the fall of senior year and enrolled in Professor's Pribyl's class. She will be graduating this coming May and taking a job in Chicago after graduation, not too far from her home state of Minnesota.

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