Arts and Sciences students recognized for gender studies insights

Arts and Sciences students recognized for gender studies insights

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Two Mississippi State University students received awards from the university’s Gender Studies Program for their research and insights into gender studies issues as part of the Gender Studies Paper Award contest this spring.

Alana R. Boyd, a May 2023 sociology graduate from Huntsville, and Joseph N. Newell, an English graduate student from Cary, MS, received cash prizes in the contest hosted by the Gender Studies Program at MSU.

At the South Atlantic MLA conference this fall, Newell will present his winning paper which explores the connection between infantilization—treating adults as if they are children—and subjugated liberty in “A Room with a View,” a 1908 novel by E.M. Forster.

Subjugated liberty, a term coined by Newell, focuses on the power and dominance existing beyond individual freedom to show that individual freedom appears subjugated in the context of the larger power structures. 

“These concepts were used to explore gender inequalities and highlight the impact of dominant social norms on women. Specifically, it tracked the patterns of language that dominant groups used towards women even though this language would normally be used to address infants,” Newell said

“This topic is relevant today because it shows how there are hidden inequities in what we see as freedom. It helps us critically access situations to find out how distinctions in gender do not necessarily mean equality. In essence, it shows that gender and gender inequalities are complex and nuanced, and taking multiple perspectives into consideration can help explain why some of those inequities exist,” Newell said.

Boyd, who minored in gender studies, drafted her award-winning paper about Frank Ocean, the music artist, and how he challenges gender norms today. 

“He goes against the status quo with not only his lyrics, but his lifestyle and fashion as well,” said Boyd, who wrote the paper for her Sociology Theory class to highlight the connection of modern sociologists to a current facet of society. 

“I wanted to write about Frank Ocean because he’s one of my favorite music artists in the industry currently and he’s one of my icons in the way that he presents himself to the world. He challenges modern forms of masculinity and refutes the labeling/titles that society today seems to be obsessed with. He constantly continues to be himself and I found that really admirable,” Boyd said.

MSU’s Gender Studies Program examines gender and investigates the different impact of events, technologies and government policies on men and women to broaden the understanding of culture and identity, as well as the intersection of gender with race, class, and sexuality, health and body politics, region and environment, nationalism and citizenship.

Through the College of Arts and Sciences, MSU offers an undergraduate minor in gender studies and a graduate certificate.

For more details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Gender Studies Program, visit and

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