The Lydia Maria Child Society’s Executive Board is pleased to announce and
introduce the winners of our society’s first ever Social Justice Award. The awards are designed to recognize students, scholars, and professionals whose work reflects Child’s fierce commitment to equity and social progress. In fact, the nominations were so numerous, varied, and excellent that we chose to offer not two awards as originally planned but three, recognizing both this year and in years to come a high school or undergraduate student, a graduate student, and a scholar or other professional. We are thrilled that our call for nominations garnered so many outstanding responses, which serves as a testament to the ways in which Child’s tireless activism continues echo forward in intellectual and academic realms. We are eager to honor the work of our winners and to introduce our members to their exciting accomplishments and projects.
In the high school/undergraduate category, our winner is Tara Fritz of St.
Francis University. Tara is a rising senior majoring in English, with minors in French, Women’s Studies, and Social Responsibility. In spite of her clearly full academic schedule, Tara routinely finds time to promote social equity throughout her campus and community. She has organized campus-wide events to raise money for groups ranging from Haitian nuns and the community they serve to local women’s help centers and has worked to give fellow students opportunities to engage in critical discussions of gender equity through organizing film screenings and guest lectures. To learn more about Tara and her accomplishments, see her university’s press release on her receipt of this award at
Our graduate student winner is Corey Hickner-Johnson, a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Iowa. Corey’s dissertation focuses on mental disability as experienced by women writers and characters and hopes “to show the affective and felt dimensions of mental disability and to argue that we should take mental disability on its own terms, instead of pathologizing or dismissing those who deal with mental disability.” She has written on the recovery of oral traditions in African American, Native American, and Hmong American women’s writing and in addition to her academic work has written op-eds on such topics as women’s rights, teachers’ rights, and Native American rights.
Finally, the winner of our award for professors and independent scholars is
Dr. Brigitte Fielder, a professor in the Comparative Literature department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To quote one of her three enthusiastic nominators, “Like Child, [Brigitte] has written about the ethical and social ties that bind how we think together about the radical politics of feminism, anti-racism, and species distinction both in the nineteenth-century and today.” She has written, for instance, about the dynamics of cross-racial and cross-species sympathy from abolitionist children’s literature to reporting on Hurricane Katrina. At the university, she has taught courses with titles like “Long Before Beyonce: Early African American Feminisms,” and she has also taught literature courses to (and worked on behalf of) incarcerated students.
Getting a glimpse into Tara, Corey, and Brigitte’s work, as well as the
impressive work of the other nominees, all of whom deserve recognition, has
served as a powerful reminder of our capacity as literary scholars to
follow Child in working toward social change. We hope it will do the same
for our members, and we look forward to making our society’s social justice
awards an annual tradition.