Opitz Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Writing Presented

Opitz Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Writing Presented

Rae Baer headshot

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) is delighted to announce the 2020-21 Opitz Award winners. Named for the late Andrew Opitz, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of English who died in 2015, the award honors scholarly essays on topics related to cultural studies. 

First place: Rae Baer (BA History '21), "Utopian Escapism: Where No Woman Had Gone Before" 

Second place: Irene Abut (BA English '21), "Oral Aesthetics in Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Eatonville Anthology”  

Third place: John Digges (BA English '21), "Django Unchained: Tarantino’s Postmodern Southern Pastiche and How it Deals with Race" 

Baer wrote her essay for the class “History of Women in America '' taught by the CLA Dean and Associate Professor of History Allison Gough, Ph.D. She decided to study the portrayal of women in the original Star Trek series that aired in the 1960s. 

“I realized that the show was revolutionary because it allowed women to see a potential utopian future for themselves in which their revolutionary efforts paid off, and I wanted to look into how the show impacted the women’s rights movement and vice versa,” Baer said. “A large portion of my essay examines the social and cultural importance of the character Nyota Uhura, who was the most powerful black woman on tv, and the actress who portrayed her, Nichelle Nichols, who went on to impact real space history.” 

The Opitz Award was established in 2016, and faculty from all disciplines are invited to nominate excellent student essays. An interdisciplinary panel of HPU faculty read and rank submissions in a blind review process. 

Contributions to the Opitz Fund for Excellence in Undergraduate Writing are welcome, so the award can be made available for HPU students well into the future. If you are interested in contributing, please contact HPU’s University Relations office at ur@hpu.edu.

Pictured is Rae Baer