Members of the Class of 2021 honored for interdisciplinary achievement

Written by
Sarah Malone, Program in American Studies
May 24, 2021

The Program in American Studies has awarded Princeton seniors Jacy Duan and Ashley Nurse the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Senior Thesis Prize; Glenna Jane Galarion the Willard Thorp Thesis Prize; Lindsay Emi the Asher Hinds Prize; Phoebe Warren the Grace May Tilton Prize in Fine Arts; and Christian Flores the David F. Bowers Prize.

“This is a stellar cohort,” said Patricia Fernández-Kelly, professor of sociology and Program in American Studies associate director. The prize-winning theses, she said, “honor the interdisciplinary vision of American studies.”

Princeton Prize in Race Relations Senior Thesis Prize

Jacy Duan

Jacy Duan. Photo by Sameer A. Khan/Fotobuddy

Endowed by the Princeton University Class of 1966, the Princeton Prize in Race Relations Senior Thesis Prize is awarded annually to a member of the senior class, irrespective of academic concentration, whose senior thesis adds significantly to understanding of issues of race and race relations in the United States, broadly defined.

Jacy Duan’s thesis, “Asian American Actors and Representation in Hollywood,” “operates from one of the foundational premises of ethnic studies,” the prize committee noted. Duan, a sociology concentrator, “listens to the analyses offered by her ‘subjects’ (Asian American actors) as her primary methodological and theoretical guide […] in bringing their insights, contributions and theorizations into the scholarly record.” Duan “fortifies her qualitative analysis” of those insights with “a compelling new framework — what Duan calls ‘cultural choreography’ — designed to be an immediately applicable model of consent-based and trauma-informed performance practice.”

Duan’s thesis advisors were Brian Herrera, Associate Professor of Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and Frederick Wherry, the Townsend Martin, Class of 1917 Professor of Sociology.

Ashley Nurse

Ashley Nurse. Photo courtesy of Ashley Nurse

Ashley Nurse’s thesis, “The Veil: The Silent Lynching of the Black Woman,” is “a remarkable achievement,” the prize committee wrote, whose “burning subject and timeliness beg for recognition.” In a concurring citation of the thesis’s faculty nomination letter, the committee praised Nurse’s work for shining light on the “causes leading to the devastating rates of maternal black mortality in the United States.” The committee admired the creative component that Nurse, an anthropology concentrator, added to her ethnographic research, writing a stage play on the same subject. “Beautifully written and designed, this monograph does honor to a true interdisciplinary vision.”

Nurse’s thesis advisor was Professor of Anthropology Laurence Ralph.

Willard Thorp Thesis Prize

The Thorp prize — named in honor of Professor of English Willard Thorp, a founder of the Program in American Studies and for many years its director — is awarded to the senior in the program who prepares the most outstanding thesis of a clearly interdisciplinary nature.

Glenna Jane Galarion

Glenna Jane Galarion. Photo by Grace Zhuang

In “‘Honor’: Rapping and Representing Asian America,” anthropology concentrator Glenna Jane Galarion wrote a “truly one-of-a-kind, dazzling tour,” the prize committee wrote. Galarion’s “tightly woven engagement” with disciplines from anthropology to music to Asian American studies and gender studies draws on “vivid” and “perceptive conversations with Asian American rappers” to produce “a complex analysis” with “with its own musical gestures, grounded in an ethnographic sensibility that stretches from beginning to end.” Galarion “deftly explores contending formulations of subjecthood and illuminates how artists construct authentic public personas while navigating the structures of the U.S. music industry and rigid typecasting of Asian identities.”

Galarion’s thesis advisor was Jeffrey Himpele, lecturer in anthropology and director of the Department of Anthropology Ethnographic Data Visualization Lab.

Asher Hinds Prize

Lindsay Emi

Lindsay Emi. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Emi

Lindsay Emi, a concentrator in English, was awarded the Asher Hinds Prize for her series of poems, “Rare Trips to America.”

The prize, established in memory of Professor of English Asher Hinds by his students and colleagues, is awarded to the senior who does the most outstanding work in the humanities.

The prize committee noted that Emi’s opening trio of poems “present a mesmerizing array of linguistic textures and rhythms” — from “boosterish” to “minimalist” to “exoticizing.” Against this “collaged background” comes into focus “a sensibility that is acutely aware of other people’s perceptions, of self-presentation, of self-packaging.” Upon reaching the end notes, readers learn the three opening poems are derived from a 1962 public speaking manual by Dale Carnegie, “the patron saint of capitalistic optimism — a figure who stands in contrast to the porous, racialized presence of the speaker.”

Michael Dickman, lecturer in creative writing and the Lewis Center for the Arts, served as Emi’s thesis advisor.

Grace May Tilton Prize in Fine Arts

Phoebe Warren

Phoebe Warren. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Warren

A gift of Robert Schirmer of the Class of 1921 in memory of his mother, the prize is awarded for a thesis exploring an aspect of the fine arts or crafts, past or present, within the present territory of the United States, or elsewhere in the Americas.

Phoebe Warren, a concentrator in art and archaeology, received the 2021 Tilton prize for “From Cholera to COVID-19: A Framework for Analyzing the Visual Media of Communicable Disease Outbreaks.” The thesis analyzes a range of imagery produced for public consumption. The prize committee described as compelling and eloquent Warren’s argument that these images, the committee noted, “participate in the formation of scientific and popular narratives about disease and contagion and, in so doing, materialize the social, political, and economic forces, phenomena, and discourses of their moment, from attitudes about race and class to histories of immigration and the urban.”

Rachael Z. DeLue, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 Professor in American Art, professor of Art and Archaeology and American studies, and chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology, served as thesis advisor.

David F. Bowers Prize

Christian Flores

Christian Flores. Photo courtesy of Christian Flores

The prize, established in 1951 in memory of Professor of Philosophy David F. Bowers and endowed in 1955 by Willard and Margaret Thorp, honors the senior in the American studies program who does the best work in program seminars.

Politics concentrator Christian Flores received the 2021 prize for work toward a certificate in Latino studies. In nominating letters, faculty wrote that Flores — “a lively presence in class,” “intuitively drawn to both the rigors and rewards of interdisciplinary research and inquiry” and “adept” at traversing disciplinary divides — “dove” into seminar topics, and produced a final paper that was “an impeccable model of both scholarship and practical thinking.” Flores impressed with “embrace of ‘the cultural’ not as a separate realm from the social and political but as an essential, intersecting constellation of institutions, processes and structures.”

Class Day

In a video statement, Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, professor of American studies and director of the programs in American studies, Asian American studies and Latino studies, congratulated graduating program seniors. “Your work exemplifies the mission of our programs. You have brought to one another perspectives of the study of literature, music, technology, art, history, sociology and anthropology, politics and public policy. You have furthered our understanding of the ways that race, gender, ethnicity and culture are defined and experienced within complex individual and collective identities.”