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Undergraduate Awards


IRWGS honors undergraduates with three annual prizes recognizing outstanding intellectual achievement.  The Queer Studies award, inaugurated in 1994, honors an undergraduate for excellence in research and writing in Queer Studies.  The Women’s and Gender Studies award, inaugurated in 2007, honors an undergraduate for excellence in research and writing in the fields of women and gender studies.

The Feminist to the Core Undergraduate Essay Prize, inaugurated in 2017, is awarded annually to the undergraduate who is judged by the IRWGS prize committee to have written the best essay on any topic in Feminist or Queer Studies in one of the following Core courses:

  • Literature Humanities
  • Contemporary Civilization
  • Art Humanities
  • Music Humanities

In keeping with the open spirit of investigation that characterizes Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Queer Studies, there are no topical, ideological, or methodological requirements for submissions. Prize-winning essays will exhibit clarity, originality, and ambition.

Undergraduates are invited to compete for all awards, but may not submit the same essay twice.

2020 PRIZE DEADLINE: 11:59pm, Sunday, March 22nd

  • Download an application for the Queer Studies Award here.
  • Download an application for the Women’s and Gender Studies Award here.
  • Download an application for the Feminist to the Core Undergraduate Essay Prize here.


Additional questions?  Contact us at 212.854.3277 or by email at

Queer Studies Award Winners


Sandra Goldstein Lehnert, “Sex, Text, Self: Euphuism and Re/Con/Figuration in Lyly’s Gallathea


Sadie Yudkin, “The Future is Here, It’s Queer: Contemporary New York City Music Scenes as Queer Theory in Practice and Praxis”


Sona Armenouhi Quigley, “Quelle Surprise!”


Thando Mlambo, “Destabilizing Nation and Culture: How Zanele Muholi and Queer South African Women are Creating Discursive Space through Visual Culture”


Harris Mercer, “Out Of The Shadows Of Plague: Transmission, Protection, and Tony Kushner’s Queer Tomorrow”


Jessica Shollenberger, “‘Nothing Pleases Me Except Dinner: Eating Sex and Queering Eating in Gertrude Stein’s ‘Lifting Belly.’”


Lauren Herold, “RuPaul’s Drag Race is Burning: Performances of Femininity and Neoliberalism in ‘Post-Racial’ America”


Erin Meyer, “Gay Fathers: Disrupting Sex Stereotyping and Challenging the Father-Promotion Crusade”


Anna Steffens, “‘Another Androgynous Freak Show’: The ‘Pregnant Man’ and Transgender Politics in American Pop Culture”


Shira Burton, “Out in the In Crowd: ‘Thinking Sex’ and Today’s Movement for Gay Rights”


Daniel Altabef, “Private Sex – Public Performance”


Jonah Hassenfeld, “Methodological Critique: An Archeology of Narrative”
Chad Miller, “The Queering of St. Sebastian: Collective Memory and the Emergence of Gay Spirituality” (Honorable Mention)


Kat Lewis, “Multi-Issue Organizing in the New York Gay Liberation Front, 1969-1971”

Women's and Gender Studies Award Winners


Poorvi Bellur, “Disjointed Narratives: Tracing the History of Purity, Nationalism and Gender in South Indian Dance in the Early 20th Century”


Edward Alexander Crouse, “Sylvia on Trial: Sedition, Censorship and Civil Liberties in 1921″


Rebecca Claire Fisher, “The Separate Spheres Argument Against Women’s Jury Service: A Review of the Literature


Sarah Faith Thompson, “Sexual Violence in Civil Wars: Strength, Organizational Control, and Rebel Groups”


Caitlin Lowell, “Justice Is Not An Institution: The University of Michigan and the Alternate Responses to Sexual Violence on Campus”


Taylor Clarke, “My Career As A Machine: Siri and Human Bodies in Servitude”


Callie Strickland, “Policing Strategies of Prostitution in the US: A Closer Look at Street Prostitution in New York City”


Joseph Daly, “An Exception to Prove the Rule: The Publishing Career of Louisa McCord and the Applicability of Separate Spheres in Antebellum South Carolina”


SaraEllen Strongman, “The New ‘Magic Negroes’: Non-White Women as Transformational Agents in Disney Animated Films”


Chloe Smith, “Ladies and Females: Women’s Missionary and Educational Work in Nineteenth-Century India”


The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality is the locus of interdisciplinary feminist and queer scholarship and teaching at Columbia University.

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Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality

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