UB Student Receives First Prize in International Essay Competition

Last words of condemned women studied in online execution pamphlets

Release Date: February 17, 2005


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Meghan Fadel of Amherst, an undergraduate in the University at Buffalo Department of English, has received first prize in the 2004 international essay competition sponsored by Early English Books Online (EEBO), a major digital research collection published by Chadwick-Healey and ProQuest Information.

Fadel used facsimiles of 17-th century execution pamphlets in the EEBO collection to produce her award-winning essay, "Reason through the Unreasonable," which addresses the last words of condemned women prior to being put to death in England. She wrote it while working on her honors thesis with James Holstun, Ph.D., professor of English at UB.

In preparing her essay, Fadel relied chiefly on primary sources in the EEBO collection that address the lives, transgressions, convictions, proclamations of innocence and penitence of women "felons" in the second half of the 17th century.

In her essay, Fadel places these documents in the framework of a distinct genre of execution accounts and discusses certain pamphlets that departed from the typical by providing different perspectives of execution.

Among them are The Speech of the Queene of Sluts (1663), the aggressive testament of a nameless female charged with stealing five shillings; and A Wonder of Wonders, a 1651 religious pamphlet that chronicled the hanging of Anne Green, charged with infanticide, and her sudden physical revival as a physician prepared to dissect her body, an incident depicted in the pamphlet as a Christ-like resurrection.

Fadel's research was cited by the competition's international panel of scholar and librarian judges for its "doctoral-level" quality. Other prize-winning essays were produced by students at the University of Warwick (England), the University of Southern California, and Washington College (Maryland). The winning essays can be found online at http://www.lib.umich.edu/tcp/eebo/edu/edu_win_04.html.

Judith Adams-Volpe, director of university and external relations for the University Libraries at UB, said Early English Books Online provides digital facsimile page images of every English-language work printed in Britain and its colonies from 1473 to 1700.

"Among them are printed books, pamphlets, proclamations, music, almanacs, and more. The University Libraries provide access to EEBO for the UB community," she says. "The library staff is very pleased that this collection can facilitate such high-level research by UB undergraduates, as well as by faculty members and graduate students." The collection can be found at http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home.

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