Alfred University News

Wit and Wisdom Award winner Monica Nowik delivers knock-out Bergren Forum lecture on "Rosemary's Baby"

Monica Nowik, a fourth-year Alfred University student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, delivered today a lecture based on her essay "Bodily Autonomy and Gender Bias in Rosemary's Baby," winner of the 2023 Wit and Wisdom Student Award sponsored by the Alfred University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

The essay explores the sexual and marital politics of Rosemary’s Baby, the 1968 horror movie starring Mia Farrow in the title role and directed by Roman Polanski. Nowik, who hopes to make her own movies someday, argues the movie depicts a woman’s traditional experience of pregnancy (circa 1968), in which she is deprived of agency over her body. Rosemary fights back; she even regains her autonomy in the final scene, as she takes over rocking her Satanic newborn in its black-draped crib.

 Nowik wrote an early draft of the essay as an article for Alfred University’s student newspaper, The Fiat Lux. After being encouraged to submit her writing to the Wit and Wisdom contest, she rewrote and expanded the article into a 10-page essay. After the essay earned top honors in Wit and Wisdom, she polished it further for delivery at the Bergren Forum, held today in Nevin’s Theater.

 Alfred University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter has sponsored the Wit and Wisdom Student Award since 2010 to recognize excellence in scholarly or creative undergraduate writing. In addition to the honor of reading her essay at the Bergren Forum, Nowik received a $250 award.

 A native of North Plain Field, NJ, she majors in English and minors in Philosophy and Film Studies. She also works in the University Writing Center, helping other students with writing projects, and expects to wrap up her undergraduate requirements with a semester in Dublin, where she will study Irish literature at Trinity College.

 In addition to winning the Wit and Wisdom Student Award, she is a past winner of the Gertz writing award, and she won the Mary Wager Fish prize for writing in the current academic year. She currently is working on her senior thesis, writing and filming an adaption of the Old English poem Beowulf.