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Kheel Center Undergraduate Award Celebrated

Bernard Kassoy cartoon titled “Quiet! Board at Work”

Sukhmani Kaur, A&S ’21, is the winner of the Kheel Center’s Undergraduate Research Award of $500. The prize is awarded annually to a researcher using Cornell University Library archives.

“Sukhmani's paper met all of our criteria for a winning paper,” said Steven Calco, senior assistant archivist, during this morning’s award presentation, held via Zoom.

“Using archival collections held at the Kheel Center, Sukhmani developed an original research topic and identified, evaluated and incorporated relevant evidence in support of her project’s goals. A team of Kheel Center archivists reviewed the paper submissions and Sukhmani was all of our top choices.”

Kaur, a government and history double major in Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences, wrote the paper for her “Rhetoric of the Labor Movement” class, taught at ILR by Sam Nelson. She applied fantasy-themed rhetorical criticism in her analysis of a 1954 editorial cartoon – titled “Quiet! Board at Work” – by Bernard Kassoy, an artist and fine arts educator. Kassoy, an active member of the American Federation of Teachers created editorial cartoons for “The New York Teachers News,” a publication of the teachers’ union.

“I’ve never done this type of paper before,” Kaur said. “I was really interested in this cartoon because it was incredible and multi-layered description of what teachers were going through in the 1950s.

“At this time in New York, teachers were really frustrated with the realities they were facing … At the same time, there was McCarthyism … So, the government was really overly scrutinizing any potential communist activity happening in public spaces … and this cartoon shows a government official scrutinizing the ‘red scare’ while turning his back on a huge pile of real problems.”

For her paper, Kaur used the Bernard Kassoy Teachers Union Cartoons collection.

The prize is named for Patrizia Sione, who held the mantle of research archivist at the Kheel Center for many years.

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