Courtenay Nielsen wins national essay prize

Congratulations to Courtenay Nielsen, the winner of the national 2017 Women's and Gender Studies et Recherches Féministes Undergraduate Essay Prize. Courtenay's essay is titled “Women, Trans, and Non-Binary Bike Mechanics: Wielding Wrenches, Defying Expectations, and Fixing Your Bike.”

The WGSRF judges wrote:

This paper gave the committee entry into a world that many of us knew nothing about.  It ushered us in with great writing and a thorough, intersectional, feminist analysis of bike shop culture. Through a thoughtful, comprehensive literature review bringing together gendered spatiality and bike culture, the author laid the groundwork for a careful analysis of empirical data--interviews with women, trans, and non-binary bike mechanics. The paper was unique, and the author’s approach made for compelling, visual writing, blending together the literature, their own experience, and the interviews to create an effective auto-ethnographic piece.

In addition, the writer's discussion of the bike shop as a "male space" could be applied to many other kinds of enclosed spaces that render non-males vulnerable and powerless (e.g. film sets, gyms, etc.), making this paper a valuable contribution to the field of Women’s and Gender Studies. Of the seven essays submitted, this one, as the title suggests, defied expectations of an undergraduate essay - it was simultaneously mature, complex, personal, and critically aware. A tricked-out ride all the way.

WGSRF introduced the Undergraduate Essay Prize in 2004-05, and Courtenay is the latest UVic Women's/Gender Studies student to win. Past winners are Lauren Warbeck, Tara Paterson, Sinéad Charbonneau, Molly McCullough, Jodi Beniuk, Michelle Moreno and Sam Eldridge.