Pembroke Center
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Ruth Simmons Prize

Funding Opportunities

The Pembroke Center is pleased and honored to offer the Ruth Simmons Prize. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding honors thesis on questions having to do with women, gender, or sexuality. 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 by 1:00 pm on the current nomination deadline date:

  • Thesis advisor’s evaluation
  • Copy of the thesis

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

2023 Recipient

Sofia Sacerdote '22.5

Sofia Sacerdote ’22.5
American Studies

Sacerdote's thesis, “‘Dead but Not Disabled’: What the Lawsuit and Campaign to Change the CDC Definition of AIDS Reveal about Disability in Post-Regan America,” examines how governmental definitions of AIDS systematically excluded women, the profound and stark consequences of this definition in the denial of tens of thousands of disability insurance claims, and the intersectional activism that pushed back, and eventually, successfully pressured the CDC into changing the definition.

2023 Honorable Mention

Georgia Salke '23Georgia Salke ’23

Salke's thesis, "When Women Drink Like Men: A Gendered History of Alcoholics Anonymous' Early Years, 1935-1960" produces a gendered history of Alcoholic Anonymous’ first twenty-five years, with a particular interest in how women have been sidelined within both AA’s historical narrative and the larger history of alcohol. It argues that AA targeted white males, developing into a fraternal organization. Within such contexts, non-alcoholic wives were expected to be tolerant supporters, while female alcoholics were especially stigmatized. Women alcoholics were able to find sobriety through AA, but this depended on their race, class, location, and pure circumstance.


Katherine Xiong

Katherine Xiong ’23
Comparative Literature

Xiong’s thesis “Post-apocalyptic Body World(ing): Transpacific Racial Capitalism, Coloniality, and Queer/Asian/Female Speculative Futures” offers a comparative reading of two speculative fiction novels, the Taiwanese writer Chi Ta-wei’s 1995 Mo膜 [The Membranes] and the Canadian-Asian writer Larissa Lai’s 2019 The Tiger Flu.  Xiong’s selection of works is itself metacritical, an intervention of sorts into how to think about “Asian/Asian-American” as a coherent literary and cultural category. Explicitly against what she calls the “neoliberal logics of representation that plague Asian American literary spaces, claiming that it is enough to have ‘own voices’” (p. 21) and that might resonate with influential modern “roots-seeking” literary movements in China and Taiwan, Xiong has instead chosen speculative fictions that doggedly direct the reader’s gaze from authentic essences to surface contingencies.  The logic of comparison rests on the profoundly gendered transpacific histories of both capital and of literary convention that the novels themselves, as Xiong shows, expose and unsettle.


Past Recipients

  • 2022 - Jamila Beesley ’22, American Studies, International and Public Affairs 
    “The Architects of the Solutions They Need: Dalit Feminism in the U.S. Caste Abolition Movement”
  • 2022 Honorable Mention - Lillian Pickett ’22, American Studies
    “(En)gendering Violence, Imaging Safety: Carceral Politics in Rhode Island’s Feminist Movement, 1970-2009”
  • 2021 - Lyle Cherneff, Gender and Sexuality Studies
    "The Ties That Bind: Incest and Family-Making in the Postbellum South"
  • 2021 Honorable Mention - Gemma Sack, History
    "Selling Mrs. Procreator: Eugenics, Homemaking, and American Nationalism in Women's Magazines, 1929-1939"
  • 2021 Honorable Mention - Cal Turner, Comparative Literature
    "The Virtue of the Virago: Gender-Crossing Difference and the Social Life of the Early Modern Female Crossdresser"
  • 2020 - Sebastián Niculescu, Ethnic Studies
    "Ábreme: Performing Trans of Color Critique"
  • 2019 - Alex Burnett, History
    "Fighting Homophobia During the War on Crime: The Rise of Pro-Gay, Pro-Police Liberalism, 1967-80"
  • 2018 - Deborah Pomeranz, Ethnic Studies
    "Policing the City: How Discourses of Public Safety Reshaped New York"
  • 2017 - Rebecca Hansen, English, Nonfiction Writing
    "On Coming Forward"
  • 2016 - Melanie Abeygunawardana, English and Literary Arts
    "The Persistent Dialogue: Butch-Femme Erotics as Queer Reading"
  • 2015 - Leila Blatt, Africana Studies
    "From the Shadows of Choice: Activism, Power, and Black Women’s Struggle for Reproductive Justice"
  • 2014 - Charlotte Lindemann, English
    "Visions in Vertigo and The Turn of the Screw: A 'reading-adventure'"
  • 2013 - Emma Janaskie, Modern Culture & Media
    "The Constant State of Desire: Thinking the Sexual Specificity of the Abjected/Fluid Female Body with Kristeva and Irigaray"
  • 2012 - Natalia Fadul, Comparative Literature
    "The Female Mind and Absent Body: Writing Female Subjectivity"
  • 2011 - Nandini Jayakrishna, International Relations
    "A Critical Convergence: Gender Development Theory and the Practice of Women’s Empowerment in the Indian Informal Sector"
  • 2009 - Soyoung Park, Sociology
    "Silenced Pain: The Korean Comfort Women’s Struggle to Matter"
  • 2008 - Sara Tabak Damiano, History
    "From the Shadows of the Bar: Law and Women’s Legal Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Newport"