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 “The Senses,” which asked contributors to tell a story about any time, topic, person, or place in urban history that foregrounds sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch. This theme focused more on the affective elements of historical narratives and privileged the craft of writing prose.
Only one graduate student rose to the challenge, working through multiple revisions with The Metropole‘s editors to refine sensorial descriptions and enliven their historical argument.
We are proud to announce that our winner is Bridget Laramie Kelly of Washington University in St. Louis for “‘They Cleaned Me Out Entirely’: An Enslaved Woman’s Experience with General Sherman’s Army.” Kelly uses the story of Ms. Rose Goethe to show the material harm done by Union troops during emancipation; rich descriptions of Goethe’s “bushels and belongings” create a sense of intimacy between Goethe and the reader.
Judges Heather Ann Thompson, Richard Harris, and Tom Sugrue praised the piece for delivering on a difficult prompt. “Kelly does a fine job of setting the sensory scene,” they wrote, “not just visually, but also by evoking tactile sensations so that it becomes almost possible to smell the setting.”
As the winner, Kelly will receive a prize of $150 and a certificate of recognition.
The Metropole wishes to once again thank judges Heather Ann Thompson, Richard Harris, and Tom Sugrue, and UHA Executive Director Allyson Moralez, for their continued support and guidance.
Featured image (at top): Sam A. Cooley, “Beaufort Seaside,” (ca. 1862), Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.