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K-State Today

May 17, 2019

Research by English students, faculty and alumni honored by international association

Submitted by Karin Westman

Two current students and faculty in English and two English graduate alumni have received awards for their research from the Children's Literature Association.

Savannah Winkler, senior in English and minor in gender, women, and sexuality studies, received the Carol Gay Award for her essay "Anchor, Compass, and Sail: The Black Panther Party in African-American Children's/Adolescent Fiction."

Winkler's essay was sponsored by Anne Phillips, professor of English and children's literature.

"Savannah read widely and found a fascinating pattern of references to the Black Panthers in a range of books written for children and young adults over the last decade or so, some of them quite well known and some less familiar but significant," Phillips said. "It has been such a rewarding experience to learn more from her about the movement and its relevance, and to consider its influence on other social justice movements. It also has been a great privilege to be a part of Savannah's support team, along with K-State's outstanding McNair program personnel, to see her impressive work earn well deserved accolades, and to witness Savannah's presentation of her research in a variety of venues."

Molly Burt, master's student in English, received the Graduate Student Essay Honor Award at the M.A. level for her essay "Perfectly Normal, Thank You Very Much: An Examination of Dichotomous Hybridity as a Tool in Harry Potter."

Karin Westman, associate professor and department head of English, sponsored Burt's essay.

In the award citation, the review committee commended Burt for providing "an insightful look at the aspect of 'othering' in the Harry Potter series," noting in particular her skilled use of "Anzaldua's theory of borderland identity," her "acknowledging previous critics," and how her argument offers "great avenues for future analysis."

Philip Nel, university distinguished professor of English and children's literature, received the Book Award Honor for "Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Books and the Need for Diverse Books," published by Oxford University Press.

Nel's book was previously recognized as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2018 and received honorable mention for the 2018 PROSE Award in Literature from the Association of American Publishers.

In addition to current students and faculty, two graduate alumni in English received awards.

Adam Szetela, who earned his master's in English and cultural studies from Kansas State in 2015, received the Graduate Student Essay Award at the doctorate level for "An (Anti)Neoliberal Christmas," sponsored by Angela Hubler, professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies.

The award committee praised Szetela's essay for being "sophisticated in its focused application of cultural theory on film." The committee also commended "the author's obvious knowledge and application of various critical theories (particularly Adorno, Barthes, Gramsci, and Bloch) as lenses through which to examine the systemic exploitation of labor (for the elves, for Walter) that is normalized within 'Elf,' and even used to create humor." Szetela is completing his doctorate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Corinne Matthews, who earned her master's in English and children's literature from Kansas State in 2017, received the Graduate Student Essay Award Honor at the doctorate level for her essay "Contraception, Consent, and Community in Kristin Cashore's Graceling Trilogy."

An earlier version of the essay served as Matthews' capstone project for her degree in English under the direction of Westman. The award-winning essay will be published later this year in "The Lion and the Unicorn," one of the leading journals in the field of children's literature. Matthews is completing her doctorate at the University of Florida.

For more information about the department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences and its Program in Children's Literature , visit the department's website, social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter, and the department's blog.