Essay Prize

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

The winner of the 2022 Space Between Conference Essay Prize is Elizabeth Blake’s “Embodying Normativity: Betty Crocker at Work”

Elizabeth Blake’s “Embodying Normativity: Betty Crocker at Work” engages feminist analysis of women and work that attends to the conference theme of labor, is interdisciplinary, and makes a fresh contribution to the field. Blake adeptly adapts a complex reading of how the figure of “Betty makes evident the vastness of the category of the women’s work, even as she homogenizes it” to accessible oral language. By considering how women’s household labor was recognized, legitimated, and transmitted as work, the essay addresses the conference theme in complex and compelling ways. Blake’s focus on the roles of the trained home economists secretarial staff, actresses, writers, and radio production team is particularly interesting. Blake suggests that the intersection between work inside the home and professional work about that work provides a fruitful set of questions about correspondences between retrograde and progressive modes of thinking about domestic science: Betty Crocker functions as “a kind of hinge between two loose and likely intersecting groups of women: the trained home economists who make up her staff, and the homemakers who make up her audience.” The essay is notable for its subtle, nuanced understanding of the methods of corporate branding as they seep into communal effected experiences and identity formation.  It is well-written and deftly makes methodological and theoretical points as it moves nimbly between material and textual rhetoric.

Past prize winners:

2021: Chris Dingwall, “On Being Practicable: Vernon Winslow and the Craft of the New Negro Renaissance

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”