Departmental Prizes

For Undergraduate Students


Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women's Studies

The Pembroke Center is pleased and honored to offer the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding honors thesis on questions having to do with women or gender. In the spring, the Pembroke Center invites faculty in all fields to nominate honors theses for the prize. A committee of faculty who teach and write in the area of gender studies will make the selection.

If you wish to make a nomination, please email the following to [email protected] by 1:00 pm on the current nomination deadline date:

  • thesis adviser’s evaluation
  • a copy of the thesis

The Ruth Simmons Prize carries with it an award of $1,000.

Full list of recipients of the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women's Studies

Joan Wallach Scott Prize

The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women annually awards the Joan Wallach Scott Prize for an outstanding honors thesis in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Joan Wallach Scott is the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Among her many books are Gender and the Politics of History (1988), Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (1996), Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism (2005), and The Politics of the VeilBanning Islamic Headscarves in French Public Schools (2007). Professor Scott taught at Brown from 1980-1985, where she was Nancy Duke Lewis Professor and Professor of History. She was the founding director of the Pembroke Center.

Each year the Pembroke Center awards this prize for an outstanding thesis by a Gender and Sexuality Studies Concentrator. The Joan Wallach Scott Prize carries with it an award of $500.

Click for a list of all Joan Wallach Scott Prize recipients

Congratulations to Lyle Cherneff, recipient of both the 2021 Ruth Simmons Prize and the 2021 Joan Wallach Scott Prize

For the first time, a thesis has been awarded both the Joan Wallach Scott prize for an outstanding thesis in Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies. This is the first time that the Pembroke Center has given both prizes to the same thesis, which speaks to the superlative research and writing of Lyle Cherneff’s “The Ties That Bind: Incest and Family-Making in the Postbellum South.” 

Lyle Cherneff '21
Gender and Sexuality Studies

Lyle Cherneff's thesis explores domestic culture in the postbellum South through the prism of incest. Lyle reads criminal court cases, state statutes, legal commentaries, written accounts authored by formerly enslaved persons and historic newspaper articles to document a postbellum culture of racialized sexual violence that was intimate, domestic and persistently unredressed. Informed by historians of Reconstruction, Black feminist scholars and legal theorists of sexuality, Lyle finds that incest carried the memory of the intimate and violent sexual culture of the slave plantation into the postbellum South. 

 

2021 Ruth Simmons Prize Honorable Mentions
In an impossibly competitive pool of nominations this year, the Ruth Simmons Prize committee was compelled to recognize the work of two additional undergraduate scholars whose theses were truly exceptional.
Gemma Sack '21 has been granted honorable mention for her thesis “Selling Mrs. Procreator: Eugenics, Homemaking, and American Nationalism in Women’s Magazines, 1929–1939.” Bringing together several discursive threads--including gender, race, reproduction, and consumption--in a project drawing on historical, theoretical, scholarly, and popular sources, this thesis examines the interconnections of eugenics, domesticity, and the fortification of the American way of life in mass-market women’s magazines of the 1930s. The mutually reinforcing politics of home and nation during the interwar period are clearly evident, the thesis argues, in popular magazines targeting women as the reproducers of a particular ideological form of the family. 
The thesis by Cal Turner ’21, “The Virtue of the Virago: Gender-Crossing Difference and the Social Life of the Early Modern Female Crossdresser,” deserves honorable mention for its insightful analysis of two seventeenth-century literary accounts of female crossdressing, one from England and the other written in Spain. This thesis understands female crossdressing not as an instrumental act or a narrative device, but as a mode of relational and social being in the world. Reading the female crossdresser as a profoundly social figure who develops routes toward relationship through the mark of difference that crossdressing constitutes, this thesis finds present-day trans resonances in a historical lineage of counternarratives of gendered existential states.

 

For Graduate Students


Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize

The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women annually awards the Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize for an outstanding dissertation in the area of feminist studies. Marie J. Langlois became a trustee emerita of the Corporation in 2007 having previously served as trustee and vice chancellor of the University since 1998.  She served as a member of the Board of Fellows from 1992 to 1998, as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1985, and as a trustee and treasurer of the University from 1988 to 1992. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Brown in 1964 and a master of business administration degree from Harvard University in 1967. Ms. Langlois recently retired as managing director of Washington Trust Investors, a division of Washington Trust Company.  She currently serves on the boards of directors of the Rhode Island Foundation, Lifespan, Salve Regina University, Rhode Island Philharmonic and Music School, and Rhode Island Public Radio.

Each year the Pembroke Center awards this prize for a dissertation in areas related to gender studies or feminist analysis. If you wish to nominate a dissertation, please email the following to [email protected] by 1:00 pm on the current nomination date:  

    • A nominating letter including a brief description of the dissertation
    • A letter of support from a second member of the dissertation committee
    • A copy of the dissertation

    The Marie J. Langlois Prize carries with it an award of $1,000.

    Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize recipients

    Congratulations to the 2021 Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize recipient

    Whitney Arey
    Anthropology

    Whitney Arey won the 2021 Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize for her dissertation in American studies titled “Abortion as Care: Affective and Biosocial Experiences of Abortion Access and Decision-Making.” Describing her work, Arey says, “I argue that this politicization makes the formation of temporary biosocial relationships with strangers possible. I explore the role that family, friends, partners, healthcare workers, and anti-abortion protesters play in abortion access. I show how patients’ already constrained access abortion care is made possible by, and sometimes made more difficult by, their relationships with others.”


    Helen Terry MacLeod Prize

    From 1995-2007 the Pembroke Center awarded this prize for an outstanding undergraduate honors thesis that addressed questions of gender or women, or that brought a feminist analysis to bear on a topic of study.

    MacLeod Prize recipients 1995-2007

    In 2007, this award was changed from a prize for a completed honors thesis to a research grant available to support undergraduate honors research. See the grants page for more information.