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Flagler alum takes top award for feminist political theory paper

October 4, 2017 10:52 AM
Lorna Bracewell

Flagler College alumna Lorna Bracewell, ’05, has earned a prestigious award for the best feminist political theory paper in the country.

The American Political Science Association has recognized Bracewell, now an assistant professor of Political Science at University of Nebraska at Kearney, with the Okin-Young Award, for her 2016 article “Beyond Barnard: Liberalism, Anti-pornography Feminism and the Sex Wars.”

“I was shocked, honored, and excited,” the Political Science grad said. “I got the email letting me know I won the award just after seeing the Wonder Woman movie. I felt like Robin Wright’s character in that movie - like I could yell ‘shield!’ and just launch six feet up in the air and shoot three bad guys at once with my Amazon warrior bow. It felt awesome.”

Bracewell’s paper is about the complex and shifting relationship between anti-pornography feminism and liberalism that unfolded over the course of the feminist sex wars of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

She was first introduced to the field in Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten’s Contemporary Political Thought class at Flagler, when students read Catherine MacKinnon’s “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.” The author, Bracewell said, was a “perceptive and powerful feminist critic of liberal politics and theory.”

“Looking back, I can see the seeds that would eventually germinate and become this article being planted in that undergraduate seminar,” she said.

She also credits Dr. Carl Horner’s literature and creative writing classes for helping her sharpen her writing skills, and Dr. Timothy Johnson’s provocative courses on Christianity, film, and eroticism for allowing her to cultivate the “intellectual audacity” she would need to study the politics of sexuality.

Bracewell admits that her own identity, nurtured at Flagler, has shaped her interests in feminist political theory.

“The relationships I built with both faculty mentors and fellow students were among the first relationships I had in which I felt affirmed as a young LGBTQ+ person,” she said. “The significance of this for my life’s trajectory cannot be overstated. Had it not been for the network of support and encouragement I found at Flagler, which gave me the strength and courage to live and speak openly as a queer woman for the first time, it is hard for me to say how my life would have played out. Suffice it to say, I owe Flagler College a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Okin-Young Award recognizes annually the best paper on feminist political theory published in an English language academic journal during the previous calendar year.

To read Bracewell’s full article, visit here.