History and political science student wins prestigious essay prize

Sheri Crawford, a double major in history and political science in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is one of 10 undergraduates across Canada to win a coveted student essay prize from the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS).

Along with the entire Department of History, Patrick Monahan, vice-president academic & provost, is thrilled with Crawford’s win. “Sheri, please allow me to join in offering you my congratulations on winning. To have received this kind of recognition for your paper on the House of Commons is a truly extraordinary achievement. I am delighted to hear of this news and of the continuing excellence within the York University Department of History.”

Left: Sheri Crawford

Her paper, "Debating, Damning and Defending the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ in the House of Commons", was written last year for Professor Stephen Brooke’s course HIST 4420 – Great Britain in the 20th Century.

Crawford gives a detailed analysis and critique of a controversial bill that was passed in April 1913 by the British House of Commons. Dubbed “the Cat and Mouse Act”, the Prisoner’s Temporary Discharge of Ill Health Act was introduced by the Liberals under Herbert Henry Asquith to reduce the need to forcibly feed hunger-striking prisoners – suffragettes imprisoned for acts of protest such as arson and breaking windows.

“Her essay is a superb and original piece of research and writing, of such exceptional quality that I was not surprised it won an essay prize at this level,” says Brooke, who nominated her paper for the award. “The NACBS is the major organization for British Studies in North America, so this is a great accolade for Sheri’s work.”

Crawford credits Brooke, in part, for her win. “He deserves personal recognition for taking the time to nominate my essay,” she says. “I really want to thank him.”

For more information, visit the Department of History website.