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Teaching Assistant Wins
Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
September 27, 1999

When Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos was completing an application for a Woodrow Wilson fellowship for writing a dissertation in women's studies and had to list the courses she had taken in the field, she was sure she would not get the grant.

"I had never taken any," says Strauss Sotiropoulos, a Ph.D. student in comparative literary and cultural studies, "only some literature courses where the focus may have happened to be on women."

She says the fact that her dissertation pertains to women's studies was fortuitous. The day she completed her doctoral orals, her adviser, Margaret Higonnet, invited her to collaborate on a chapter on women's studies.

She had had a different topic in mind for her dissertation, but she did the research anyway and, from that point, she was hooked.

Her commitment to women's studies since then was rewarded when she was named a recipient of the prestigious $1,500 Woodrow Wilson fellowship, one of 15 recipients selected from more than 200 applicants nationwide for her dissertation on "Frictions, Fictions and Forms: Woman's Coming of Age in Eighteenth-Century Educational Discourses."

Her dissertation, a study of documents and fictional works on women's education, explores the debate about women's capacities, development and social function in late eighteeenth-century Europe.

The Woodrow Wilson dissertation fellowships in women's studies were the first such fellowships to encourage scholarship about women and are still the only national source of support in the field for graduate students who are completing their doctoral studies. The money may be spent on materials, travel, or attending professional conferences.

"The list of former fellows constitutes a roster of some of the most impressive names of scholars in women's studies," according to a press release issued by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. "The list represents an astonishing number of scholars who have gone on to influence their respective disciplines and to break new ground by crossing disciplinary boundaries."

Strauss Sotiropoulos, a teaching assistant who has previously taught high school and college English and German, was recognized by the University in the spring for excellence in teaching. She hopes to pursue an academic career.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu