Class of 1879 Prize for Outstanding Projects in the Humanities for 2019


WPI Today

Since 1872, when students of composition were awarded a prize for the best paper, WPI has honored outstanding work in the humanities. Today, that recognition belongs to students who are awarded the annual Class of 1879 Prize, which honors the top capstone projects completed in the Department of Humanities and Arts. This year, a committee of HUA faculty evaluated nearly 80 Prize submissions and chose to recognize the fine work of three Prize winners and three honorable mentions: 


Prize Winners 

For Professor Kate McIntyre's seminar on Travel Writing, Carla Duarte composed a poignant reflection on a recent trip to Brazil, "Saudade: A story of Identity." The title, which refers to a melancholic yearning associated with Brazilians, captures Duarte's mood as she encounters the land of her family for the first time. McIntyre describes Duarte's reflection as a "masterful, moving work" that is "full of rich sensory detail."   


Petra Kumi's paper on "The Effects of Highly Ideological Music in Thailand" is a rigorous study of how pop music figures in cultural and political strife in contemporary Thailand. 

Committee members were particularly impressed by how Kumi was able to draw on personal experience as an IQP student in Bangkok. Professor Carlos Odria, who advised Kumi, describes her project as a "mature" and "outstanding" piece.


Professor Mohamed Brahimi describes Prize winner Kamryn Spinelli as "too kind and extremely brilliant." Heart and intelligence were both on display in Spinelli's Prize submission, "The Jewish Exodus from Morocco," which records and analyzes Moroccans' memories of Jewish friends and neighbors who left for Israel. Relying on original research that he conducted while studying in Morocco, Spinelli advances the case for understanding Moroccan Jews' departure to Israel as an event of social trauma for the Moroccans who were left behind.   


Honorable Mentions 


Kristen Antunes received an honorable mention for her paper on “Local Knowledge and Climate Adaptation,” which uses case studies from around the world to argue that the fight against climate change must leverage local communities’ knowledge, not just the research of the scientific community. Her adviser, Professor William San Martin, praised the paper for underscoring “the centrality of local, non-western, and non-scientific knowledge.”


Camryn Berry, another member of Professor Kate McIntyre's seminar on travel writing, received an honorable mention for “16:19,” an “innovative braided narrative” as McIntyre describes it. Berry’s paper skillfully weaves together reflections on place, faith, and friendship in the context of a coming-of-age tale.  


For his study of the solar energy industry in China, “The Impact of Government Intervention of Global Industry,” Jackson Powell was awarded an honorable mention. His adviser, Professor John Galante, explains that Powell’s paper was commendable for its far-reaching conclusions, including a “broader understanding of efforts to transition energy supply away from the combustion of fossil fuels, on a truly global scale.”  


Students who wish to submit a paper for next year’s Class of 1879 competition should look for announcements during B-term.