MIT undergrad Vaishnavi Phadnis ‘22 wins the 2021 Carol Gay Award in Children Literature

MIT undergraduate student Vaishnavi Phadnis ‘22 has won the Carol Gay Award, a national prize given annually to the best essay written by an undergraduate on children’s literature. This honor is awarded by the leading professional organization for children’s literature scholarship in the U.S., the Children’s Literature Association (ChLA).

Vaishnavi wrote her essay, entitled “Ged’s Seasons: Style and Sympathy in Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea,” for the Fall 2020 course “Children’s Literature”/CI-H, 21L.015, taught by Professor Marah Gubar. The course will also be offered in the Fall 2021 term.

The judges commented that they found Vaishnavi’s essay “beautifully and clearly written,” with careful attention to the details of the text, from style and syntax to poetic devices. The essay, they noted, “points to a gap in analyses of LeGuin’s work,” which typically focus on plot, theme, and character development but fail to attend to stylistic choices. This essay beautifully demonstrates how LeGuin’s poetic language helps build sympathy for an initially unlikable character, in a clear and well-supported argument. As befits an essay focused so closely on language, it is also extraordinarily well-written, gracefully argued, and all in all a pleasure to read. Thank you for sharing this fine piece of scholarship with the committee.”

Vaishnavi will be honored during the ChLA virtual conference taking place June 9-13, 2021. Congratulations, Vaishnavi!

Read the award-winning essay here…