Draper would like to congratulate our 2011-2012 Hirschhorn Award nominees and winners! The Hirschhorn is given annually to the most outstanding thesis written by one of our students during the previous year. Theses are judged on the originality of the project, the strength of the research, and the quality of the writing.
This year we had thirteen total nominees and a tie for the award! The winners were Joey McGarvey (May 2012) and Scott Kaplan (January 2012). Their thesis titles and abstracts are below.
Our nominees were:
Christopher Cappelutti (May 2012)
The Many Faces of Ulysses: Joyce and Dante Rewrite Tradition
Michelle Dennis (May 2012)
Unyielding Passions: Reexamining Sentimental Fiction
Nick Gutierrez (January 2012)
Some Small Measure of Hope for the Possibility of Meaning: Reading the Ethics of Literature and the Literature of Ethics
Sarah Latanshyn (September 2011)
“From Uzhhorod there is a road” to Lemkovyna: Music and Identity Among the Lemkos
Tamir Morag (September 2011)
Public Atmosphere and Policy Making in Israel on the Eve of the Six Day War
Beatriz Olivetti (January 2012)
Conceptual Strategies: Curating Emptiness and Performance at the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial
Ryan Petersen (May 2012)
Heavy Metal Warriors and The Monster-Terrorist-Fag: subcultural Biopolitics and Heavy Metal Masculinity in America’s War on Terror
Cara Ryan (May 2012)
American Catholics Meeting Islam: Soidarity, Partnerships and Resistance
Zeinab Saiwalla (May 2012)
Unpacking Rituals: Understanding What Lies Beneath Two Commonplace Dawoodi Bohra Practices
Roy Schwartz (May 2012)
Is Superman Circumcised? The Secret (Jewish) Identity of Superheroes
Eric Silver (May 2012)
Teacher/Preacher: Secular Proselytization in a Classroom Setting
And our winners:
From an Elegant Despair to a Moral Exuberence: A Search for Utopian Feeling in Tony Kushner’s Theatre of the Fabulous
In this paper, I will be exploring the political theatre of Tony Kushner and his Theatre of the Fabulous. By breaking down the various meanings attributed to fabulousness, I will be attempting to explain an evolution in quer theatre that Kushner is actively pursuing from the Theatre of the Ridiculous to his Theatre of the Fabulous. I will argue that Kushner’s methodology for this change is related to the way in which he politicizes feeling within two of his most Brechtian plays: A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!. In these two plays, I will examine how Kushner’s characters both indulge in a hopeless complacent feeling I will refer to as elegant despair as well as willfully and hopelessly struggle with a complicated hopeful and powerful political feeling, which I will refer to as moral exuberance. Through these two emotions, I argue that Kushner’s political theory of the fabulous becomes most apparent, and invite us to imagine a way in which our queer aesthetic can imagine and feel toward utopia.
The Stagecoach and the Pear: The New York Fruit Festival and the Metaphors of Ninetheenth-Century American Authorship
“The Stagecoach and the Pear” is divided into two chapters. The first takes a primarily historical approach and represents the first real exegesis of the Complimentary Fruit and Flower Festival, an event hosted by the New York Book Publishers’ Association on September 27, 1855. The event brought together seven hundred booksellers, publishers, and authors in New York City to celebrate the decade’s literary success. Significantly, as many as fifty—and probably far less—of those who attended were female authors. In this first chapter, I ask the question: Why fruit? Why did the Association’s secretary, publisher George Palmer Putnam, decide his menu would consist almost entirely of produce and pastries (and would entirely omit alcoholic beverages)? One clear answer is as an enticement to these women, who were both apprehensive about attending and phenomenal sources of profit to the publishers who could gain their trust. As I develop the macrohistorical themes of the Festival in a way that has not previously been done, I also reveal the Festival as an active site of negotiation among some of the most prominent men and women of letters at a highly charged moment in literary history. Specifically, I argue that male publishers develop a metaphor for authorship—particularly female authorship—through fruit, allowing them to treat these women as commodities.
In the largely literary second chapter, I theorize a genre of women’s writing that I call the tale of mobility. Here, I claim that the women writers invited to the Festival had begun to develop their own metaphor for authorship through periodical tales of travel and place beginning in the 1830s. This metaphor stressed experience over commodification, and suggests both women’s excitement and anxiety about authorship. In both chapters, I repeatedly draw on a previously untapped archive, the New York Public Library’s collection of over 190 response letters from authors and other literary notables invited to the Festival, preserved by Putnam in a scrapbook. These letters, I argue, reveal the dialogue, hopes, and fears inherent in the Festival—and in mid-century literary culture—in an entirely new way.