Williams College Senior Wins Watson Fellowship

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College senior Emma Mandel has been named a Thomas J. Watson Fellow for 2019-20. Winners of the fellowship receive a stipend of $30,000 for 12 months of independent study and travel outside of the United States. 

Mandel joins 40 other students selected as Watson Fellows who hail from six countries and 18 states. Selected from private liberal arts colleges and universities, Watson Fellows will travel the world exploring a diverse range of topics and disciplines. 

"A record number of students initiated this year's application process," said Watson Foundation Executive Director Chris Kasabach. "The new class is remarkable. They reflect the diversity, imagination and cross-disciplinary nature of our next-generation leaders."

Mandel, an English and theatre studies major from Brooklyn, N.Y., will use the fellowship to pursue a project titled "Beyond Language: Exploring Female Experience Through Theatrical Expression." Her project aims to explore how theatre can be used to articulate the struggles of women in areas where words are censored, suppressed, or inadequate to the task of describing the experience of oppression. 

"I became interested in the project because how, why, and when we allow women to speak seemed to be a line of questioning that emerged organically for me from studying English and drama, and being involved in making theater, be it as an actor or a director," says Mandel, who did an internship in summer 2017 at Target Margin Theater in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I worked with veterans who had never done theater before, an experience which made me think about how theater might allow people, especially women, to articulate traumatic experiences that don’t often find expression in everyday life."

Mandel's research will take her to France, Morocco, South Africa, Israel and Palestine, where she plans to explore how women use social theatre to come to terms with their experiences. 

"I'm excited by the potential to be able to observe and hopefully connect with theatrical communities that, as someone who has lived entirely within the Western world, I can’t even really imagine," Mandel said. "Mostly, I'm just very excited by the possibility of listening to women's stories and being inspired by the theatre that they make."

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