The Swapna Dev Memorial Book Prize

The Swapna Dev Memorial Book Prize in Folklore & Mythology was established in 2007 according to the wishes of her husband, and supported by his generous gift. The prize honors the interest that Swapna Dev had in the field and her connection to the Harvard Committee on Degrees in Folklore & Mythology, where she was a visiting scholar from 1983 to 1985, under head tutor Prof. Hugh Flick.

The Book Prize will be awarded annually to the graduating senior whose thesis receives the highest marks from its readers. (Winners will be listed below.) 


Brief bio of Swapna Dev [1949-2001]


After getting her B.A. and M.A. in English from Delhi University, Swapna taught for many years at the Jesus & Mary College, one of the leading colleges of the university. She was a visiting scholar in Folklore & Mythology at Harvard University from 1983 to 1985. At Harvard, Swapna worked on the metaphysical symbolism of Buddhist Stupas. Swapna and her family settled in San Diego, California, in 1988, and she became a freelance writer. She is survived by her husband and three daughters. 


Winners of the Swapna Dev Memorial Book Prize

(Thank you to Mark Smith, Sharon Nicoletto, Holly Hutchison and Lowell Brower for the photos)




“The Science of Spells: Plants, Potions, and Seasonal Variation in Anglo-Saxon Leechbooks”

Madeleine Woods


Maddie Woods

Maddie Woods and Parents, Faculty

(Top: Maddie Woods.  Above: Mrs. Woods, Prof. Steve Mitchell, Maddie Woods, Prof. Catherine McKenna, and Mr. Woods.)



“The Alliterative Morte Arthure’s Extended Verses: A Study in Stress Assignment, Scansion and Meter”

Daniel Hellstrom

Daniel Hellstrom

Daniel Hellstrom group

(Top: Daniel Hellstrom; above: F&M Head Tutor Ruth Goldstein, thesis advisor Daniel Donoghue,
Daniel Hellstrom and parents.)



“Moving Forward, Looking Back: Comparative Folklore and Mythology in a Computational Age

Monica Marion

Monica Marion with parents.

(above: Monica Marion, center, with parents.)



“'I'm Done For!': Petrushka in Ballet and Puppet Theater

Isabella Palange

(above: Isabella Palange, right, with thesis advisor Daria Khitrova, left, and Deborah Foster of Folklore & Mythology, center)


(above: left, Isabella Palange; right, Isabella with her mother, standing, and sister.)


2015:  (no award)



“'We Thought it Was Dry Land': Myth and Tall Tale in the Sea Narratives of Baba Batra 73a-74b”

Daniel Frim

(above: Daniel Frim, center, with his father and grandmother.)



“Trickster Visits the White House: Liminality and Political Redefinition in The Onion's Coverage of the 2012 Presidential Campaign”

William Goulston


“Nameless: the Story of Rumplestiltskin's Daughter”

Rebecca Harbeson

(above: Deborah Foster with William Goulston, left; Rebecca Harbeson, right.)



“Following la Difunta”

Meredith Keffer


“Tere Tohorā Tere Tangata: Where Whales Journey People Follow”

Caroline Lowe


(above: Meredith Keffer, Deborah Foster, Caroline Lowe, front; Maria Tatar, Steve Mitchell, Holly Hutchison, back.)



“The Right Words: Encounters with Meaning in Prayer”

Molly Elder Moses

(above: Molly Moses, with her adviser, Jon Levenson.)



“Invoking the Nation: Reflexive Tradition in Early Modern Japan”

Rachel Storch


(above: Rachel Storch.)



"Grace Church" (documentary video) & "The Sound of Heaven: Testimony and Intercessory Prayer in a Houston Megachurch"

Jennifer Malin


 (above: Jennifer Malin, left; Ken Dev, Joseph Harris, Deborah Foster, right.)



"Gregory the Great and the Myth of the Gregorian Chant"

Jhoshua Friedman

(above, from left to right: Jhosh Friedman; Jhosh's father; Jhosh's mother; Deborah Foster; Joseph Harris; Jhosh's thesis adviser, Tom Kelly; Steve Mitchell; friend of Ken and Swapna Dev, Sharon Nicoletto.)




"The Gaelic Waulking Songs of Mairi nighean Alasdair: A Preliminary Translation and Classification With a Discussion of Voice and Gender”

Margaret Harrison

(above: Margaret Harrison and Ken Dev, left; Mark Smith, Sharon Nicoletto, Ken Dev, right.)