3 Humanities students win UCLA Library awards for undergraduate research

Published: June 5, 2024
Portraits of Emma Horio (left), Kaitlyn Coons (top right) and Isabella Durgin (bottom right)Clockwise from left: Emma Horio, Kaitlyn Coons and Isabella Durgin (Photos courtesy of the subjects)

Sean Brenner | June 5, 2024

Kaitlyn Coons, Emma Horio and Isabella Durgin — all members of the class of 2024 — are among the winners of the 2024 UCLA Library Prize for Undergraduate Research.

Kaitlyn Coons, who is completing degrees in classics and history, won first prize in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences category. Her thesis, “William Leybourn, the Broker of Knowledge: Reconstructing an Early Modern Intellectual Network,” focused on the publisher who first printed Galileo’s work in English, repositioning Leybourn as a central figure in his era’s intellectual life. (Read more about her work here.)

Emma Horio, an English major, won second prize in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences for her project, “‘Blood and Thunder’ in the Public Sphere: Deception, Feminist Sentiment and Sexological Etiologies in Louisa May Alcott’s Sensation Fiction.” The paper explores how Louisa May Alcott’s personal life, as seen in letters and journals, influenced the themes she brought into her secret thrillers.

“I examine how her work builds upon burgeoning ideas about sexuality in the medical field and argue that the American literary marketplace’s culture of pseudonymity and anonymity allowed women to participate more overtly in fields that propriety would perhaps tend to exclude them from — like sexology,” Horio said.

Isabella Durgin, also an English major, won second prize among projects using resources from UCLA Library Special Collections. Her paper — produced as her senior capstone project — “Animate Materiality: Hypertextuality in Lynd Ward’s Illustrated Frankenstein, in Conversation with Patchwork Girl,” investigated the way the physical book itself impacts the reading experience.

Durgin researched how 20th-century American wood engraver Lynd Ward engaged with readers’ expectations for Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” through his evocative, body-centered engravings in the 1934 illustrated edition of the novel. She used Library Special Collections’ copy of the 1934 edition, and was able to reference many other editions in her research.

“For someone interested in the material impacts of literary studies, this — being able to hold the book, touch the rough edges of the page, and contemplate the visual impact of word and image together — was an invaluable research experience,” Durgin said.

In all, 10 awards were presented in seven categories. Read more about all of the winners on the UCLA Library website.