2014 SWAGS Prize Winners

Congratulations to our 2014 SWAGS Prize winners Maia Mares and Yun (Nancy) Tang!

Maia Mares

Department of Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Honors Thesis

"Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things": Gender, Genre, and Disability in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.

Abstract: I explore the intersection of masculinity and disability in George R.R. Martin’s popular fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. After reading the series, I noticed  that all the disabled characters within it were men and that most of the major point-of-view male characters were disabled. Building on this observation, I explore how the masculinities and disabilities of four of these characters intersect, as well as why disability is only represented as intersecting with masculinity, never femininity. Furthermore, I examine how this intersection plays a substantial role in Martin’s creation of the immersive fantasy world of the series. In other words, I argue that the specific relation between masculinity and disability Martin represents is crucial to his task of creating the fantasy world of the series, and thus the series itself. I conclude by examining the social and political implications of Martin’s representations of the intersection of masculinity and disability.

Yun (Nancy) Tang

Department of Political Science Honors Thesis

Breaking the Feminist Silence on Contemporary Chinese Family Planning: Envisioning Gender Justice against Neoliberal & Neo-Malthusian Population Control

Abstract: Unlike most existing literature on the subject of contemporary Chinese population control, Breaking the Feminist Silence argues that Chinese family planning since the late 1970s/early 1980s constitute a neoliberal and neo-Malthusian biopolitics. While the neoliberalism in Chinese family planning has enabled the quantification of Chinese lives, its neo-Malthusian ethos devalues Chinese lives or even assigns them negative value. When combined with entrenched Chinese patriarchy, the neoliberal and neo-Malthusian elements of Chinese family planning produce gendered personhood and exacerbate gender injustice in Chinese society: a Chinese woman’s life value is deemed inferior than that of her male counterpart. While mainstream liberal feminists in the west have remained mostly silent on the subject of Chinese family planning due to their own complicities in both neoliberalism and neo-Malthusianism, Breaking the Feminist Silence utilizes feminist standpoint theory to re-center and analyze a diverse array of Chinese women's day-to-day experiences under population control. To achieve gender justice, the author advocates for a “feminist affirmative biopolitics” that positively states the invaluable and equitable life value for all, including Chinese women.