2011 Social Justice Research Paper Awards Winners
2011 First Place: Allison Lutes (Anthropology), “More than Just a Slave Girl: Representing Harriet Jacobs in Children’s Education”
In 1992 Mary E. Lyons published the historical children’s novel, Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs, was well-received by teachers and reviewers and continues to be taught to middle school students today. This article argues that Lyons’s novel misrepresents the historical person Harriet Jacobs by distorting her language, trivializing her experiences of abuse, and minimizing the North’s participation in the U.S. slave system. Middle school educators should no longer teach this text because the inaccurate portrayal of Jacobs and antebellum America sets students up for future misreadings of history. Instead teachers should consider using Jacobs’s autobiography Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Jacobs’s text provides students with the historical and cultural perspective of the first female slave to write her own narrative. Her primary text elucidates the motivation for publishing her story and gives students a fuller, more accurate account of mid-nineteenth-century America.
Undergraduate winner: Tyler Donovan (WGS/ASL), “Ms. Garrison’s Controversial New Gender Identity: Trans* Representation in “South Park”
Abstract: “Ms./Mr. Garrison’s Controversial New Gender Identity” discusses the role of trans* identified character Ms./Mr. Garrison on the adult cartoon series “South Park.” The paper acknowledges and critiques the use of satire in regards to trans* identities by South Park’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.