Maggie Fox and Alice Graham-Welton awarded 2019-20 D.A. Brown Awards for Excellence in Writing

Each year, English faculty submit the best essays from their lower-level and upper-level literature courses, and a faculty panel awards the writers of the top essay in each category the D.A. Brown Award for Excellence in Writing.

The 2019-20 recipients of the D.A. Brown Award for Excellence in Writing are Maggie Fox and Alice Graham-Welton.

Maggie Fox, a rising junior Politics & International Affairs major, was awarded the D.A. Brown Award in the core (lower-level) literature category for a paper she wrote in English 175 titled “‘Benito Cereno’ and the Myth of Black Incapacity.”

According to her professor Dr. Meredith Farmer, “Maggie argues that in Herman Melville’s remarkable story ‘Benito Cereno’:

‘…racist language and stereotypes run rampant, presenting black identity through the lens of white superiority. The existence of minstrel tropes and ideas throughout the text not only show how blackness is dehumanized but also how the myth of black incapacity is accepted. Ultimately, the text’s carefully crafted conclusion reveals the inaccuracy of the myth, making a mockery of those who trusted its validity.’

“This powerful essay reveals a solid understanding of Melville’s famously complex narrative style, a clear articulation of this text’s cutting way of calling out racist assumptions, and an impressive grasp of the minstrel tradition in Melville’s moment. This paper is impressively researched, carefully crafted, and compelling in its own right—not just as work in a core literature course.”

Recent graduate and English major Alice Graham-Welton ’20 was awarded the D.A. Brown Award in the upper-level literature category for a paper she wrote in English 302 titled “Putting Breath Back into Citizenship.”

Her professor, Dr. Chris Brown, writes, “Alice’s paper is the kind of engaged, political, and indeed ethical work that reads in its literary texts a way of seeing a different, better world.  Like her contributions in class, the arguments of the essay are at turns thoughtfully subtle and clarifyingly forthright.  She covers extraordinary ground—from gestures as small as the cough and the sigh to scenes from the worlds of sports and the law and finally to poesis and allegory—to theorize racial asphyxia and to chart how Christina Sharp and Claudia Rankine strain to breathe new life into the possibilities of American citizenship.”


About D.A. Brown:

The late D.A. Brown was a member of the English Department for many years. He was noted for his high standards, and on his retirement, a fund was established to recognize excellence in writing. Each year the English department recognizes exemplary writers in creative writing, 100-level literature courses, and 300-level literature courses in his name. 

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