CWWA Conference Paper Prize 2012 – Winner Announced

The CWWA Executive is delighted to announce that the winner of the £200 prize for the best paper presented by a postgraduate research student at the July 2012 conference in Taiwan is Renata Dalmaso.

A panel of three CWWA past and present committee members carefully scrutinised each of the essays submitted for the prize. The panel was very impressed with the quality of the scholarship, originality and expression of all of the papers submitted and would like to thank those who entered and congratulate them for their contributions to the field. It has been a difficult process to judge the work submitted and the panel would like to offer congratulations to the winning entry.

The judges were unanimous in their decision that the winning essay is that of Renata Lucena Dalmaso: ‘Queering the Gendered Body: The Performance of Masculinity and Femininity in Alison Bechdel’s Graphic Memoir Fun Home‘ and their comments on the paper are as follows:

Dalmaso’s reading of Bechdel’s graphic novel is intellectually complex, certainly increasing our understanding and appreciation of it. The essay is cogently argued and perceptively theorised. Dalmaso makes good use of Judith Halberstam’s ideas about ‘female masculinity’ and Butler’s observation that the formation of the subject in phallocentric society ‘requires an identification with the normative phantasm of sex’. However, she is not over reliant on either theorist. We like the way she takes into account the graphic aspect of the novel and discusses and illustrates it in detail. She also takes account of the novel’s skilful interplay of different genres and art forms; for example, she makes the point that, while reference to ‘journal entries, photocopies, letters etc. give authority to the narrative’, Bechdel nonetheless succeeds in ‘preserving a strong sense of fictionality’. Dalmaso refers to Judith Kegan Gardiner’s essay on the novel in a recent edition of the CWW journal but is not too dependent on it: she succeeds in constructing her own individual reading. The essay is also well written, presented and structured. It’s detailed, interesting, clearly theorised, and makes a sound contribution to the critical analysis of graphic novels/comics. It’s quite long, and needs to maintain pace towards the end, but is nevertheless of a very high standard.

There were 7 essays submitted and short focused feedback has been provided to to all those concerned as they consider any further writing before thinking of publication.

Again the panel would like to stress that the judging has been a difficult process and would like to thank everyone who put in the immense time and effort necessary to produce such strong papers, wish all the entrants well with the next step in their work and congratulate Renata Dalmaso on her prize winning essay.

Gina Wisker, Fiona Tolan and Paulina Palmer