The CSRPC is pleased to announce the winners of our annual essay prizes!

Thank you to all students for their thoughtful submissions this year. And thank you to our faculty committee for reading this year’s submissions!  Congratulations Vicki, Selena, Christopher, and Pedro!


CRES BA Thesis Prizes 

Victoria Bonilla, Bachelors of Arts in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies & Anthropology

Essay Title: “That’s So Cool: Reflections on how Vinyl Consumption Redefines Coolness and Value”

The faculty committee appreciated that Bonilla’s essay carefully attends to how memory, relationality, and aesthetics redefine “coolness” and value for young people of color and their use of vinyl. Bonilla’s thesis is an autoethnography grounded in theory and an awareness of community and familial practices that demonstrates the limits of theorizing value in purely material and capitalist terms. 

Selena Spencer, Bachelors of Arts in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies & Political Science

Essay Title: “Complicating Escapism: An analysis of Racial Burnout and Queer Productivity”

The faculty committee noted that Spencer does academic work of the most crucial sort; reconciling theory with living, offering a vivid picture of what theory cannot think, what theory-addled planning can never eventuate. “I am the first case through which I have thought through these concepts,” and indeed, here is a precise, chastening analysis of a dominant style of political imagining that, however enchanting its textual fruits, also demonstrates how only imagining limits action.


Best Essay by an MA/Professional School Student 

Christopher Valentine, Master of Arts in the Humanities 

Essay Title: “This Bridge Called My Grave: Essex Hemphill’s Ceremonies”

The faculty committee remarked that Valentine usefully challenges the presentism of much Black Study by forwarding mechanics in the works of Essex Hemphill that long ago “questioned the narrative that marks [us] as already dead.” In Valentine’s readings, affects are not foreclosures; they are moments of densely organized experience, occasions for response. He shows us that, because Hemphill’s and his interlocutors’ cultural landscapes had not yet been rewritten as “deathscapes,” many narrative, poetic, and reparative options remained open to them.


Best Essay by a PhD Student 

Pedro Noel Doreste, Cinema and Media Studies 

Essay Title: “Littoral Blackness: Race, Cinema, and Midcentury Cultural Nationalisms in Puerto Rico”

The faculty committee noted that Doreste, analyzing the film text of Óscar Torres, contributes an important essay finally bringing race to bear on the analysis of Puerto Rican cultural production. To make possible this positioning of Torres, Doreste convincingly shows how colonial ‘successes’ elided race (if not its cousin, colorism) from the dominant picture of Puerto Rican cultural identity. Torres’s narrative and viewer experience alternate through the close film analysis that moves and builds the paper’s tight argument.