Essay Prize

The Space Between Society offers a prize for the best essay presented at the annual conference.

The winner of the 2021 Space Between Essay Prize is Chris Dingwall for his essay “On Being Practicable: Vernon Winslow and the Craft of the New Negro Renaissance”. The prize committee had this to say about Dingwall’s essay:

“Chris Dingwall’s essay uses craft work to foreground instances of African-American innovation in the interwar period and position Black writers and artists of the New Negro Renaissance and beyond as makers of their own economies and vital contributors to American modernity. It makes significant interventions in African-American studies, modernist studies, and art/craft history as it moves from its point of focus—Vernon Winslow’s 1940 essay on “Making the Negro’s Art Practicable”—into interconnected explorations of economics, education, migration, modernism, and art/craft of the interwar period and today. The essay contributes to an ongoing expansion of scholarly understanding of the New Negro Renaissance beyond its northern iterations, casting New Orleans as a hub of interwar black cultural production, rather than simply a departure point for the Great Migration. Dingwall convincingly makes the case that craft work (he includes both craft practices and writings on craft) “performed a vital service in sustaining and growing African American economies” and in “renovating everyday black culture” by demonstrating how practices sustained by enslaved people could be revitalized as part of a “communal process” to contest the power structures that kept people enslaved into the early twentieth century. Craft was not just practicable but political, Dingwall demonstrates, as he uses Winslow’s work to identify practical means and modalities of black art, autonomy, and excellence. ”

Past prize winners:

2019: Michael Williamson,  “Staging Nineteenth Century Jewish Literary and Religious Culture in the Face of Disaster.”

2018: Ravenel Richardson, “Private Writing as Resistance: Ursula von Kardoff’s Diary of the Second World War.”

2017:  Jennie Lightweis-Goff, “The Dignity of Years and the Crudities of Youth: Gone With the Wind (1936) and the New Southern City.”

2016:  Paula Derdiger, “”Surveying the Space Between in Postwar Berlin: Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair.

2015: Joseph Elkanah Rosenberg, “Paper Bombs.”

2014: Michael Williamson, “Doubled Crossings: Yiddish Writers Respond to the Treaty of Non-Aggression Between Germany and Russia.”

2013: Katherine Brucher, “Henry Ford’s ‘Old-fashioned’ Dancing and ‘Early American’ Music: Americanization through Music and Dance.”

2012: Naomi Milthorpe, “Absolute Possession: Evelyn Waugh’s Library.”

2011: no prize awarded

2010: Erin Penner, “Mrs. Dalloway and the Loss of Elegiac Transcendence”

2009: Alexis Pogorelskin, “The Sounds of Silence: The Mortal Storm in Film”