The Women’s History Network is delighted to announce the first winner of our MA dissertation prize. We received many entries of an extremely high quality. We were particularly impressed with the overall standard given the many difficulties students experienced in the past year. Entries often demonstrated creative use of source material and several reflected critically on how they had adapted to the challenges. Spanning more than a thousand years and ranging from an analysis of female combatant experiences in the civil war in Sierra Leone to the household of Eleanor of Provence and encompassing studies of women as prisoners, secret agents, housewives, physicians, activists, artists and domestic servants, the prize committee had an exceptionally difficult task in selecting a shortlist and an eventual winner.
Our first prize of £250 went to Emily Rhodes for ‘Female Petitioning to Monarchs and the Criminal Process in England, 1660-1702’. Her dissertation is an extremely impressive and engaging study of the practice of female petitioning, detailed and precise without losing sight of the broader implications and significance. The thematic analysis is hugely effective in enabling the author to assess a diverse range of objectives and strategies in petitions, and the discussion of treason petitions is particularly thought-provoking. The author makes a persuasive case for the value of her source material, with due attention to its shortcomings and limitations, and clearly paves the way for more exhaustive study.
Our runner up was Robert Laker, for ‘Geneva in Motion: Winifred Coombe Tennant’s Experiences at the Third Assembly of the League of Nations’. Rob’s dissertation is excellently conceived, focused and framed. It is confidently situated in the literature, is clear about its intentions and argument and uses one moment and one personality very effectively to explore a much wider range of issues. It is highly original and makes excellent use of the archival materials.
Highly commended entries were as follows:
Isobel Goodman for ‘Service, Salvation and Status: Exploring the Relationship Between Late Medieval Women and Their Servants Through the Sharing and Use of Books’ – a rich and wide-ranging essay which creatively uses the evidence of books and manuscripts not only to assess the relationships between mistresses and servants across a wide range of contexts, but also to challenge the expected dynamic of the relationship.
Sophie Olver for ‘Feminine accomplishments require grace, lightness, and rhythmicity’: An analysis of individual competitive sport as a site of women’s emancipation in Britain 1948 to 1970’ – a really well-researched, well-written dissertation on a fascinating topic, situating women’s participation in elite sports within wider histories of social, cultural and political change, demonstrating imaginative use of source material and impressive breadth.
Claire ó Nuallain for ‘Hibernia: Feminine Allegories of Nation in the Art and Literature of Late Eighteenth-Century Ireland’ – a beautifully written piece which interrogated visual and textual sources extremely well, linked to contemporary issues such as Black Lives Matter, and seamlessly integrated theories involving the built environment.
June Watson for ‘Recovering the Women of Science in the Post-Colonial World of Empire’ – a hugely impressive piece of work, carefully designed and painstakingly researched, making very clear and solid contributions to knowledge in a range of fields with an exceptional command of the secondary literature
Many congratulations to our winner, and huge thanks to all our entrants. We are looking forward to hearing more from many of those who submitted in future, through blogs, papers, and articles.