English celebrates Class Day 2023

June 6, 2023

On Monday, May 29, 2023 at 1:30 p.m., the Department of English celebrated the 31 graduates of the Class of 2023 who majored in English. Over 130 parents, family members, friends, and graduates gathered in McCosh Hall, Room 50 to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s graduates.

This year, Acting Chair and Professor Jeff Dolven welcomed the seniors from the Class of 2023,  friends and family, and English department faculty and invited reflection upon the challenging landscape within which these students entered the University and prevailed to finish their degrees. Dolven shared an anecdote about a student who took 43 years to complete their independent work within the University. Associate Professor Russ Leo, the current Director of Undergraduate Studies, announced the names of the undergraduate concentrators and thesis and exam prize winners.

After the ceremony, concentrators, friends, families, and faculty convened under the tent on McCosh Courtyard for light refreshments and sweets.

2023 Senior Thesis Prize Winners

Senior Comprehensive Prize

Awarded to the senior or seniors who have excelled in the departmental examination.

Beatrix Bondor, Co-winner, for “Palm to Palm: Poems of Jamestown”

Priyanka Aiyer, Co-winner, for “Unmasking Ceremony

Earl R. Miner Prize

The prize is named for Professor Earl Roy Miner, a distinguished long-term member of the department who died in 2004. Professor Miner was the author of books on literary theory, on Milton, Dryden, and the seventeenth century. He was also a very well-known expert on Japanese literature. Awarded to a senior who writes a thesis of outstanding merit.

Andrew Matos for “‘The Idle Singer of an Empty Day’: The Fantastic and Material in William Morris’s The Earthly Paradise

Alan S. Downer Prize

lan S. Downer was a Professor of English and a Shakespearean scholar who taught at Princeton from 1945 until his death in 1970. He was the first chair of the faculty committee at McCarter Theater beginning in 1960 and played a major role in the development of Princeton’s Center for the Performing Arts. Awarded to a senior in the Theater and Performance track of the Department of English who writes a thesis of exceptional merit.

Asher Muldoon for “What Remains of Burke and Hare: A New Musical”

Charles William Kennedy Prize

The prize was established with the unrestricted monies bequeathed to the University for the English Department by John E. Annan, Class of 1855. Dr. Charles W. Kennedy was a member of the Princeton Faculty from 1906 – 1944. He was also the athletic director from 1922 – 1932 while simultaneously teaching full-time. In addition, he was the President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for two terms (1930 – 1934) as well as Vice President for the U. S. Olympic Committee. Dr. Kennedy was known as the “eminent scholar who happens to be the most gifted translator of Anglo-Saxon poetry who has ever practiced that difficult art.” Awarded to a senior in the Department of English who writes a thesis of exceptional merit.

Rachel Elizabeth Gracie Sturley for “‘The Body Intervenes’: Narrating Illness at the Turn of the 20th Century”

Walter C. Hughes Memorial Prize

This award is dedicated to the memory of Walter C. Hughes, a gifted scholar and teacher of early American literature who was beloved by many during his brief time at Princeton. His patience with students appeared to be infinite, his knowledge of literature prodigious, his mimicry of colleagues frighteningly and hilariously on the mark, and his spirit sturdy and courageous. Awarded to a senior for a thesis of exceptional merit and originality.

Bethelihem Tebase for “Meaning and Modality: Toward a Dialectical Formalization of Deferral”

Class of 1859 Prize

The Class of 1859 established the prize in 1869 on the occasion of their tenth reunion. The prize was determined that it “shall be publically awarded to a member of the Senior Class who shall be adjudged to be worthy thereof after an examination in English Literature and Essay writing.” A list of all award winners was to be published in the Triennial Catalogues of the College. Awarded to a senior who excels in the thesis and in the departmental examination.

Rachel Elizabeth Gracie Sturley, Co-winner, for ”’The Body Intervenes’: Narrating Illness at the Turn of the 20th Century”

Sam Himmelfarb, Co-winner, for “A Psychoanalytic Reading of Father-son Relationships in the Bible

Lee M. Elman Class of 1958 Hemingway Prize

Lee Elman, President of Elman Investors Inc., graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Princeton in 1958, with a degree from the University of Bologna in 1959 and degrees in law from Yale in 1962 and 1965. Although his principal interests were in International and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, the courses he took in the English Department initiated a series of life-changing encounters with Ernest Hemingway, the writer and the man, and inspired him with a passion for writers and writing. The Elman Prize is awarded to the senior that best explores the powers of literary style in prose fiction or non-fiction.

Cameron Dames for “‘A Peep Show of Terror’: Bluebeard Gothic and the Legacy of Desire and Shame”

Thomas Maren Prize

Born in New York City in 1918, Maren earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Princeton University in 1938. He worked as a research chemist for many years before entering the Johns Hopkins University medical school, where he earned his medical doctor degree in 1951. He also held a master’s degree in English from Princeton and an honorary medical doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. Awarded to a senior in the Department of English who writes a thesis of exceptional merit.

Selena Hostetler for “A Map of Far Metaphor: Forms and Functions of Metaphor in Ray Bradbury’s Short Fiction”

Edward H. Tumin Prize

This prize was established in 1981 by Professor and Mrs. Melvin M. Tumin for Professor Tumin’s brother, Edward H. Tumin. Professor Tumin was in the sociology and anthropology departments at Princeton. The intent of the donors is to honor and keep fresh the lifelong interest of Edward H. Tumin in the study of the English language, and to recognize achievement in and draw attention to the continuing importance of the fundamental skills of literacy in the liberal arts. Awarded to a student in the Department of English who has demonstrated the best appreciation of the English language and its effective use in written composition.

Ergene Kim for “Photographic Angst: Desire, Defect, & Death in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando & Dazai Osamu’s No Longer Human

Class of 1870 Old English Prize

Awarded to the best scholar(s) of the year in the fields of Old English, Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

Sakura Antonio Ito Price for “The Terms of Deficiency: Authorizing Isabella Whitney’s Admonitory Poetics”

Thomas B. Wanamaker Prize

This prize was set up by Thomas Wanamaker in 1889. Thomas Wanamaker ’83 was the son of John Wanamaker, the founder of the chain of Wanamaker department stores. Awarded to the undergraduate who writes the best essay on some aspect of the history of our language.

Sam Himmelfarb for “A Psychoanalytic Reading of Father-son Relationships in the Bible”

Isidore and Helen Sacks Memorial Prize

The prize, awarded for the best senior thesis in American literature, is to honor is quality of self-motivation and drive for excellence in the humanities.

Alexandra Gjaja for “A Tradition of Error: George Lamming and Toni Morrison Revise Othello in the Diaspora”

Outside Department Thesis Prizes

Gregory T. Pope Prize for Science Writing

Established by the class of 1980 in remembrance of their classmate Gregory Pope, who was a science writer and editor and died prematurely of an aneurysm. The award is granted to an undergraduate student who has shown a keen interest in science and demonstrated an outstanding ability to communicate that enthusiasm to a wide audience through journalism.

Noa Greenspan for “Before You Stomp”

Department of English Honors

Highest Honors

Sam Himmelfarb

Rachel Elizabeth Gracie Sturley

Beatrix Bondor

High Honors

Noa Greenspan

Sakura Antonia Ito Price

Hana Widerman

Selena Hostetler


Alexander Gjaja

Cassandra James

Ashira Shirali

Class of 2023 Inductees to Phi Beta Kappa Society

Beatrix Bondor

Alexandra Gjaja

Sam Himmelfarb

Selena Hostetler

Cassandra James

Ashira Shirali

Non-Thesis Prizes

Awarded by the Department to graduate students, first-year students, sophomores, juniors, and non-departmental seniors

Graduate Students

Moeko Fujii, Co-winner, McCosh Teaching Award

Jeewon Yoo, Co-winner, McCosh Teaching Award

First-Year Students (Class of 2026)

Kayla Xu, Class of 1883 English Prize for Academic Freshmen in Engineering

Melanie Garcia, Class of 1883 English Prize for Academic Freshmen

Sophomores (Class of 2025)

Annie Cao, Academy of American Poets – E. E. Cummings Prize

Isabel Jacobson, Francis Biddle Sophomore Prize

Rachel Brooks, Class of 1870 Sophomore Prize

Malia Chung, Bain Swiggett Poetry Prize – co-winner

Juniors (Class of 2024)

Ethan Luk, Bain Swiggett Poetry Prize – co-winner

Claire Schultz, Class of 1870 Junior Prize

Joseph Himmelfarb, Emily Ebert Prize

Sierra Stern, Ward Mathis Prize

Seniors (Class of 2023)

Chaya Holch, Morris W. Croll Poetry Prize