The WHN is delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 MA dissertation prize. The volume and quality of the entries we received speaks to the breadth and diversity of research into women’s history. All dissertations were written and researched to the highest standard, an all the more commendable achievement given the challenges posed by covid during the last academic year. The judging panel very much enjoyed reading all entries, and we thank all of those who took the time to share their research with us. We were particularly pleased to receive entries which, between them, covered an extensive chronological and geographical span, as well as undertaking a diverse range of methodological approaches. All this meant decision making was especially difficult! However, after much deliberation we are pleased to recognise the following students’ work:
Olivia Wyatt, ‘“Painting Our Own Portraits”: African-Caribbean women and the construction of community in Leeds’
Olivia is our overall winner for 2021. Her fantastic dissertation is a brilliant example of the way that local histories can be connected to the national, diasporic, imperial and global. It is also an important contribution to Black British history which, as she rightly stresses, often focuses on London. The analytical framework of ‘community’ is hugely effective and allows for an impressive and detailed investigation of different lines of enquiry which connect to a coherent whole.
Ruby Ekkel, ‘Vegetarians, vivisectors and violationism: gender and the non-human animal in Anna Kingsford’s life and writing’
Ruby, one of two runners up, has produced a very accomplished piece of academic writing. Based on fresh, clever research, she has ‘reclaimed’ the Victorian activist Anna Kingsford in a compelling and original way. Her work is confident and mature and dealt with many interlinking and complex issues.
Beth Price, ‘How Far Can Pan Yuliang’s Nudes Be Considered “Feminist” Art?’
Beth was our second runner up. She has written an astoundingly ambitious project that demonstrates why analyses of non-white actors and their works are often inadequate according to current frameworks. Her arguments are particularly nuanced, and the historiographies and she impressively engages with scholarship on feminism, diaspora, and European/Eurocentric artistic paradigms.
Anna Dearden, ‘“Damned Sapphists”: the experiences of sexually transgressive women, c. 1740-1840’
Anna’s dissertation, which was one of two highly commended entries, is a great piece of work, absolutely successful in achieving its aim of transcending a fruitless quest for labels and practices in order to examine experience, meaning and self-construction. The clarity of the writing is all the more impressive given the complexity of the subject.
Emma Gattey, ‘Forgotten ‘Insider’ and Revisionist Anthropology at Oxford: Makereti and Māori Agency in the Construction of European Knowledge’
Emma, our second highly commended entry, has produced a hugely impressive, confident and scholarly piece of work. She uses the idea of ‘subversive collaboration’ to offer a subtle reading of the Maori anthropologist Makereti’s intentions and practices in compelling and suggestive ways, well grounded in the theoretical literature. Interrogating Makereti’s unpublished papers has been particularly fruitful, revealing a new set of perspectives, ideas and emotions.
Very many congratulations to all of our winners. We will be showcasing their work on the WHN blog, in our journal Women’s History Today, at our conference, and through our seminar series, over the coming months.