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Abigale Vercauteren wins UW-Eau Claire master's thesis competition

November 13, 2012
Abigale Vercauteren

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate Abigale Vercauteren, originally from Green Bay, earned first-place honors in UW-Eau Claire's 2013 Distinguished Master's Thesis Competition.

Each year faculty and staff members are encouraged to nominate exceptional quality theses for the competition, with judging provided by the Graduate Council faculty committee.

Dr. Cathy Rex, assistant professor of English, submitted Vercauteren's thesis, titled "Beyond the Binary: Azar Nafisi's 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' as a Product of 'Hybridity.'" In her recommendation letter, Rex spoke highly of Vercauteren's work and talents.

"Abby's work in this thesis is theoretically sound, critically sharp and beautifully written," Rex said. "She has entered into a very polemical conversation about a controversial book and done so with much intellectual courage, insight and authority."

Rex worked with Vercauteren in two graduate-level classes and was her thesis adviser. She said Vercauteren is an example of a model UW-Eau Claire student.

"She is exactly the kind of student UW-Eau Claire strives to encourage — she is critically aware, ethically grounded, curious, motivated and willing to take on the challenges any graduate education provides."

Dr. Jennifer Shaddock, English graduate program director, said that Vercauteren's work with the Women's and LGBTQ Resource Center showed real-world application of her studies.

"What was really wonderful about Abby was her ability to translate her theoretical work into highly effective civic engagement here at the university through the management of the Women's and LGBTQ Resource Center," Shaddock said.

Vercauteren earned her bachelor's degree in political science and women's studies from UW-Eau Claire in 2009 and her master's degree in English literature and textual interpretation in 2012. She currently is pursuing a doctorate in the women and gender studies program at Arizona State University.

"My current attendance at Arizona State University, which enrolls more than 75,000 students, has reminded me how truly special UW-Eau Claire is, both for its wonderful, engaged professors and its commitment to student success," Vercauteren said. "I will forever cherish my time at UW-Eau Claire and the opportunities it provided me."

Vercauteren will receive recognition for her work as well as a $500 award. She has been invited to return to her alma mater next spring to provide a short presentation on her winning thesis. A banquet also will be held in her honor.

In addition, her thesis will be submitted to the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 2013 Distinguished Master's Thesis Awards competition, results of which will be announced next spring.

For more information, contact Nancy Amdahl, Graduate Studies, at or 715-836-2721.



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