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Paper on anorexia nervosa wins Tredway Prize

September  06, 2013

A student from Geneva, Ill., who hopes to be a trauma surgeon has won the 2013 Tredway Library Prize for First-Year Research for his paper, "The Cultural Expression of Anorexia Nervosa." 

Aaron Volk wrote the paper for his first-year liberal studies course "Ill Communication," taught by Dr. Margaret France.

The library will hold a reception in Volk's honor at 4 p.m. Sept. 12, second floor south end.

Volk, now a sophomore, is majoring in chemistry/pre-med, Spanish for professional use, and biochemistry. He is a tutor at Augustana's Reading/Writing Center, and he has additional experience as a literacy tutor in his hometown for people learning English as a second language. Volk says good writing in any discipline should be valued, "not only those disciplines concerned directly with language and its many forms."

This year's judges were reference librarians Stefanie Bluemle and Margi Rogal, and Lucas Street, assistant director of the Reading/Writing Center. They said they were struck from the beginning with the paper's fluent argument and clear, focused thesis, supported by a diverse range of sources that are brought into conversation with one another and with the author.

Volk contends that although most academic investigations and popular constructions link the causes of anorexia nervosa (AN) to cultural factors (the media's presentation of thinness as an ideal body type, for example), societal factors are not adequate to explain the development and prevalence of the disease. He argues, based on recent research, that AN is influenced by deep psychological disturbance in individual sufferers.

"After sitting down with five or six books and numerous printed articles and papers about AN and culture," Volk wrote, "I was able to develop the thesis that became the basis of my paper."

Volk's winning paper: The Cultural Expression of Anorexia Nervosa.

The Tredway Library Prize for First-Year Research recognizes an outstanding research paper written by a first-year Augustana student for a class in the liberal studies or honors sequence. The award promotes students' active engagement in the processes of library research and encourages them to synthesize library research skills with the reading, writing and critical thinking skills developed in the first-year sequence.

The 2012 winner, Natali Bode, wrote about the health risks of sugar consumption.

The 2011 winner, Maureen Zach, wrote "Why the Greater Good is Good: Lessons from Harry Potter."

The 2010 winner, Scott Fick, wrote about his research in "Household Compost in Rock Island."