After presenting her capstone paper last semester, junior English major Elizabeth Stewart thought she was finished with that aspect of her Southwestern career. Little did she know that paper was just the beginning.
The Southwestern University English Department has introduced a new writing prize for students who have taken a class within the department. The Rose Prize in Literary Criticism allows professors to submit one student paper from each of their classes to compete for the $200 award.
Funding for the award comes from the Lou Claire Rose Endowment for the English Department. This endowed fund was established by Southwestern graduates John and Mary Powell in memory of their friend, Lou Claire Rose, in their role as Trustees of the W. Morgan and Lou Claire Rose Trust. All the professors in the department participated in choosing the winner of the prize.
“We were basically in agreement about the papers. They were all very, very good, so it was difficult to choose because of that, but it was fairly straightforward in terms of ranking,” said Jim Kilfoyle, associate professor of English and chair of the English Department. “Lizzy’s argument was ambitious and complex; it responded in a rich way to the primary focal text and did a very nice job of making that text more lively and interesting to the readers. It was done quite well.”
Stewart’s paper, titled “Creating Supermen and Golems: Repairing the World through Self-Storying,” focuses on the creation and recreation of identity within Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, whose main characters are comic book writers.
“I was drawn towards the fact that when they would imagine a superhero, in a way they would be re-imagining themselves,” Stewart said. “They were their own stories, and those stories had the power to both fracture and repair their self-perceptions. At its core it’s about fixing broken worlds with stories.”
Stewart’s paper was submitted by her capstone professor, Helene Myers, professor of English and holder of the McManis University Chair.
“I am incredibly honored that Dr. Meyers chose my paper to submit to the competition, so truly it’s her I have to thank, for both submitting my paper and providing feedback during its creation,” Stewart said. “My capstone was something I was incredibly passionate about, and it’s amazing to receive recognition for a work that I put so much research, planning and time into.”
Stewart plans to continue writing after graduation, and this prize has encouraged her to work harder toward that goal.
“My favorite thing to do is write, and receiving the Rose Prize furthers my budding hope that one day I’ll be able to write professionally,” Stewart said. “I found magic in Kavalier and Clay, and it makes me happy that I could share that with the judges who read my paper.”