American Studies

Emma Gerson, American Studies graduate (class of 2023), has won the 2023 American Cultures Student Prize!

Image of Emma Gerson
American Studies is proud to announce that Emma Gerson, a graduate of our program (class of 2023), has won the 2023 American Cultures Student Prize!
This prize recognizes exemplary student projects developed in American Cultures courses “that promotes understanding of U.S. race, ethnicity, and culture and exemplifies a standard of excellence in scholarship.” Emma’s award-winning submission, “Alcatraz: A Carceral-Colonial Space,” was the capstone project she created in my class, American Studies 102AC (Beaches in Mind: The Beach in American Culture), in Fall 2021.
The prize committee praised the impressive nature of Emma’s research project, which, in Emma’s own words, “examine[s] the significance of Alcatraz using abolitionist pedagogy in order to better illuminate the relationship between the beach, the carceral state, capitalism, and colonialism.” Drawing on primary sources including photography, National Park archives, and artwork created by people imprisoned at Alcatraz, Emma’s project combined history and theory to demonstrate the significance of beach spaces—and Alcatraz in particular—in American culture. As Emma writes, “the beaches of Alcatraz continue to shape the American imagination and our understanding of carceral-colonial realities that still impact us today.”