Announcing the Winner of the Fifth Annual UHA/The Metropole Grad Student Blogging Contest

Believing that blogging is an excellent way to teach beyond the classroom, market scholarship, and promote the enduring value of the humanities, The Metropole established the Graduate Student Blogging Contest in 2017. This year, the theme of the contest was “Embrace,” in what turned out to be an overly optimistic nod to the “end” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grad students were invited to submit essays about a moment of togetherness in urban history, when individuals, groups, or cities attempted to unite or to try a new idea—even if they didn’t succeed.

We ended up with three entries, all of which focused on U.S. cities after World War II. They described attempts to give urbanites, who perceived that cities were becoming less hospitable to white residents, options like housing tax credits, creative play spaces, and after school programming that they didn’t have before.

We are proud to announce that our winner is Brian Whetstone, for “‘An Investment and a Home’: How Preservationists Embraced New Roles As Landlords to Battle the Urban Housing Crisis.” Whetstone is a PhD candidate at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the nearby city of Springfield is a main case study for his argument that community preservationists who became landlords relied on the private market to alleviate the urban housing crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, at the expense of solutions that used “state and collective action to protect housing as a basic human right instead of an instrument to generate capital.” 

Judges Heather Ann Thompson, Richard Harris, and Tom Sugrue praised Whetstone for “opening up a new way of thinking about the preservation movement,” and speaking “to a wider national experience and … the broad issue of neoliberalism.” They expressed appreciation for its complexity, calling the post “original and layered.”

As the winner, Whetstone will receive a prize of $100 and a certificate of recognition.

Congratulations, Brian!

The judges and the editors of The Metropole thank all the contest entrants for their deeply researched, original pieces. The judges expect that these pieces will evolve into important articles in urban history.

Finally, The Metropole wishes to once again thank judges Heather Ann Thompson, Richard Harris, and Tom Sugrue, and UHA Executive Director Hope Shannon, for their five years of support and guidance.

To read the other great entries in this year’s contest see:

Rachel Klepper: Sharing Responsibility after 3:00 P.M.: Bridging School and Neighborhood with the Yorkville Youth Council and the New York City Board of Education

Rachel Pitkin: Curbside in 1960s Greenwich Village: Queer Activism and a Children’s Workshop.


Featured image (at top): Scott Kane, “Forest Park Heights Historic District Sign, Sumner Avenue, Springfield, Massachusetts,” (2013), Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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