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2017 Prize Winners Announced

The German Studies Association is pleased to announce the following prizes, which were awarded at the Forty-First Anniversary Conference in Atlanta on 6 October 2017:

DAAD Book Prize for best book in History and Social Sciences published in 2015 or 2016:

The winner is Professor Greg Eghigian (Pennsylvania State University), The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine and the Convict in Twentieth Century Germany (Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, 2015).

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

Greg Eghigian’s book, The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine and the Convict in Twentieth Century Germany, traces scientific, medical, and administrative approaches to criminality, policing, incarceration, efforts at rehabilitation, and therapeutic practices across 20th century Germany. Impeccably researched, fluidly written, beautifully crafted, and measured in tone, this study is driven by a desire to probe the “correctional imagination”—namely, an aspirational project, both punitive and rehabilitative, that mobilized notions of “good and bad, normal and pathological, corrigible and incorrigible” to shape the management of criminal behavior and the fate of offenders. Revising Foucault, Eghigian astutely emphasizes the chronic disparity between ambitions and reality: the plans of those with power always fell short. Nonetheless, the sum of such efforts had a lasting impact and produced “influential visions of crime, the criminal and human nature.” Eghigian's work shows, among other things, how rehabilitation efforts could emerge as much out of anxiety about the threat of recidivism as out of optimism or progressive social science.

Based upon archival research that spans three regimes (National Socialist, East German, West German), sophisticated in its use of theory, and masterful in its deployment of an impressive range of multi-disciplinary scholarship, the book is written in engaging prose and clearly articulates its substantial intellectual and historiographical contributions. Prof. Eghigian’s nuanced analysis is sometimes surprising and always thought-provoking, undermining conventional views and narratives regarding the Third Reich and its relation to developments in the Weimar, Cold War, and post-Cold War eras. His insights, moreover, transcend the German context, shedding light on conceptions of “criminality” as well as penal and therapeutic practices in liberal democratic states. Erudite and ambitious, this book demonstrates what a specialized historical study of Germany has to offer other fields. It is an exemplary piece of scholarship that makes an original contribution to German historiography and speaks beyond the German context to interrogate the ways that criminality and the human capacity for improvement have been – and continue to be – understood and addressed in the broader North Atlantic world of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Prize Committee:  Professors Heide Fehrenbach (History, Northern Illinois University, chair), David Ciarlo (University of Colorado—Boulder), and Daniel Riches (University of Alabama).

 

DAAD Article Prize for best article in Literature and Cultural Studies published in the German Studies Review in 2015 or 2016:

The winner is Professor Maria Makela (California College of the Arts), "Rejuvenation and Regen(d)eration: Der Steinachfilm, Sex Glands, and Weimar-Era Visual and Literary Culture," German Studies Review 38, no. 1 (February 2015) 35-62.

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

Maria Makela's well-argued and well-formulated essay, "Rejuvenation and Regen(d)eration:  Der Steinachfilm, Sex Glands, and Weimar-Era Visual and Literary Culture," has an impressive range for its interdisciplinary breadth and depth, engaging at once visual, literary and film studies, medical discourses, as well as gender and sexuality studies. While it makes a unique contribution to its discreet area of inquiry, it also puts a vast array of fields into conversation with ease.  Makela uses an interdisciplinary approach to consider Der Steinachfilm (1923), about which little has hitherto been published. Makela presents the era's lively discourse about sex, gender formation and appearance, and also on aging and rejuvenation. Eugen Steinach, a professor of physiology at the University of Vienna and the most of famous endocrinologist of the era, experimented with the transplantation of ovaries and testicles and argued that hormones helped to define the physiology of sex and gender identity. This turn of the century discourse, which intensified at the end of World War I and throughout the 1920s, provides the context out of which Der Steinachfilm arose. The film had two iterations: a scientific version released in 1922, entitled Steinachsforschungen (Steinach's Research) and the popular version released in 1923.  This film and the related scientific and popular discourse inflected much Weimar-era cultural production and provide new perspectives on the era's canonical visual and literary texts, including Anton Räderscheidt's painting “Selbstbildnis” (Self-Portrait, 1928), Vicki Baum's novel Helene Willfüer (1929), Hannah Höch's photomontages and Til Brugmann's literary grotesques.

Makela's article deftly reads together Weimar-era medical and scientific discourses; visual, literary and filmic texts; and sex and gender studies, making a substantive contribution to these fields. Additionally, it is so accessibly written that one could assign it to undergraduates or give it to people outside academia. An impressive range of illustrations undescores the power of the argument. A very well-written, engaging, and edifying read!

Prize Committee:  Professors Christina Gerhardt (University of Hawai’i, chair), Tobias Boes (University of Notre Dame), and Sonja Klocke (University of Wisconsin—Madison).

 

Sybil Halpern Milton Prize for best book in Holocaust Studies published in 2015 or 2016:

This year the committee awarded the prize equally to two books. The winners are Professor Wolf Gruner (University of Soithern California), Die Judenverfolgung im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren. Lokale Initiativen, zentrale Entscheidungen, jüdische Antworten 1939-1945 (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2016), and Professor Gavriel D. RosenfeldHi Hitler! How the Nazi Past Is Normalized in Contemporary Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

The Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize for 2017 is awarded equally to two books: Wolf Gruner, Die Judenverfolgung im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren. Lokale Initiativen, zentrale Entscheidungen, jūdische Antworten 1939-1945 (Wallstein Verlag, 2016) and Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Hi Hitler! How the Nazi Past is Normalized in Contemporary Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

n Die Judenverfolgung im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren. Lokale Initiativen, zentrale Entscheidungen, jüdische Antworten 1939-1945 (Wallstein Verlag, 2016), Wolf Gruner argues that the Czech Protectorate became a testing ground for Nazi policies implemented elsewhere. Gruner’s research convincingly revises the dominant view in the historical literature that the implementation of the Holocaust was organized centrally in Berlin. Gruner shows that occupied Czechoslovakia was a site of innovation and local initiative in the persecution of Czech Jews and that non-German antisemitism played a greater role than has been previously acknowledged. This groundbreaking and well researched book displays Gruner’s masterful command of the historiography on the Holocaust. Additionally, he challenges assumptions that Jews passively accepted their fate, by documenting their creative and tenacious struggle. Gruner’s book makes a major contribution to Holocaust research.

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld’s Hi Hitler! How the Nazi Past is Normalized in Contemporary Culture is an outstanding contribution to the study of the historiography, memory, and fictional representation of the Holocaust and Nazism in both high and low realms of our contemporary culture. Rosenfeld criticizes the term “normalization” as an impulse to domesticate history that forecloses a moral engagement with the history of National Socialism and the Holocaust. The focus of the book is on normalizing Nazi history and culture in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Eastern Europe, and Israel in the 21st century. Rosenfeld’s extensive research covers the evolution of cultural memory across genres and moves deftly from trivial Internet memes to counterfactual historical narratives that bridge the historical and the literary. With its lively style, useful theoretical framework for analysis, and its illuminating presentation of novels, movies, and memes, the book should have a major impact on future scholarly studies and impact popular views of normalization, as well.

Prize Committee:  Professors Donna Harsch (Carnegie Mellon University, chair), Jonathan Skolnik (University of Massachusetts--Amherst), and Reinhard Zachau (University of the South).

 

Graduate Student Essay Prize for 2017

The winner is Claudia Kreklau (Emory University), for her essay on “Travel, Technology, and Theory: The Aesthetics of Ichthyology during the Second Scientific Revolution.” It will be published in a forthcoming issue of the German Studies Review.

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

On behalf of the GSA Committee charged with deciding the 2017 Graduate Student Essay Prize, we are delighted to present the Committee’s choice of the essay, “Travel, Technology, and Theory: The Aesthetics of Ichthyology during the Second Scientific Revolution, by Claudia Keklau, Emory University. The decision was very easy, with all judges independently coming to the same verdict.

Most immediately, the essay stood out for its clear organization, its accessible, lucid writing, and its deep level of research. Each of the reviewers independently noted that they could understand this essay even though the topic was beyond their own area of expertise. I would like to highlight that this—understandability—was a key reason for the unanimous nomination, because presenting research such that a wide audience can follow and find it interesting is a skill that is sometimes underappreciated in the academic world. Yet Claudia Keklau achieved just that, and I hope she will continue to nurture that skill as she advances in her career.

The essay posits that knowledge of the world was tied to three things—world travel, technology, and aesthetics—specifically using the example of fish/fishes, and how knowledge and appreciation of fish/fishes increased during the second scientific revolution around 1800. For the overwhelming majority of human existence, the sea was perceived as threatening, and creatures inhabiting that world below water were seen as ugly and horrid.  Early naturalists encountered fish only in their dead form—slimy, pale, and smelly—and so it is not surprising that early representations of fish, in books, for instance, reflect that unpleasant perception. However, as this essay shows, between 1780 and 1840, perceptions of fish changed. Technological advances in printing with color plates contributed to that, as it became possible to depict fish in life-like colors. Advances in sea faring technology and underwater exploration, making travel safer and allowing more easily to observe fish alive in their natural surroundings surely were just as important for this shift in attitudes.

The essay is based on a wealth of records and sources from all across Europe, including publications, scientific cabinet collections, and travel accounts. Whether one comes from the angle of the historian, or literary scholar, or naturalist, this essay offers innovative and persuasive perspectives on the intersection of the natural world with technology and human intervention. As Keklau shows, the emerging perception of the natural world shows many parallels in different cultural settings. Characteristic for central Europe is that here, attitudes toward the natural world were shaped by aesthetics and romanticism more than elsewhere in Europe.  

Prize Committee:  Professors  Almut Spalding (Illinois College, chair), Margaret Lewis (University of Tennessee, Martin), and Jeffrey Luppes (Indiana University, South Bend).

 

Heartiest congratulations to our 2017 prize winners!

Call for 2018 Panels and Papers

The German Studies Association (GSA) will hold its 42nd Annual Conference from 27 to 30 September 2018 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA)

The Program Committee cordially invites proposals on any aspect of German, Austrian, or Swiss studies, including (but not limited to) history, Germanistik, film, art history, political science, anthropology, musicology, religious studies, sociology, and cultural studies.

Proposals for entire sessions, for interdisciplinary presentations, and for series of panels are strongly encouraged (though we discourage thematic series of more than four panels). Individual paper proposals are also welcome. The call for seminar proposals has been distributed separately.

Please see the GSA website for information about the submission process for ‘traditional’ papers, sessions, and roundtables, which will open on 5 January 2018. The deadline for proposals is 15 February 2018.

Please note that all proposed presenters must be members of the German Studies Association. Information on membership is available here.

In order to avoid complications later, the Program Committee would like to reiterate two extremely important guidelines here (the full list of guidelines is available on the GSA website):

1. No individual at the GSA conference may give more than one paper or appear on the program in more than two separate roles. (Participating in a seminar counts as delivering a paper.)

2. If a paper proposal requires high quality sound equipment, that justification must be made in detail at the time of submission.

For more information, please see our previous conference programs, a detailed list of submission guidelines, and contact information for the 2018 Program Committee here.

Call for 2018 Seminar Proposals

The 42nd GSA Conference in Pittsburgh, PA (September 27-30, 2018) will continue to host a series of seminars in addition to conference sessions and roundtables.

Seminars meet for all three days of the conference. They explore new avenues of academic exchange and foster extended discussion, rigorous intellectual debate, and intensified networking. Seminars are typically proposed and led by two to three conveners and they consist of 12 to 20 participants, including scholars from different disciplines and at different career stages. Seminars may enable extended discussion of a recent academic publication; the exploration of a promising new research topic; engagement with pre-circulated papers; an opportunity to debate the work of scholars with different approaches; the coming together of groups of scholars seeking to develop an anthology; or the in-depth discussion of a political or public policy issue, novel, film, poem, artwork, or musical piece.

In order to facilitate extended discussion, seminar conveners and participants should participate in all three seminar meetings. Please note that seminar conveners and seminar applicants who have been accepted for seminar participation will not be allowed to submit a paper in a regular panel session. However, they may take on one additional role in the conference as moderator or commentator on another session independent of their enrollment in a seminar, or they may participate in a roundtable.

Although we accept proposals from conveners who have directed a seminar during the past two consecutive years, we give preference to newcomers and thus encourage the rotation of seminar conveners in similarly-themed seminars. We further recommend that those conveners contact the coordinators of the Interdisciplinary Network Committee, Professors Pamela Potter (pmpotter@wisc.edu) and Winson Chu (wchu@uwm.edu), to establish an official GSA Network on their topic.

The application process has two steps. Initially, we invite you to submit a preliminary proposal that includes the following items:

  • Title
  • Names of conveners
  • A 150-word description of the seminar's subject (which will eventually be used in the call for participants, the printed program, and the online program/mobile app)
  • A 50-word description of the format of the seminar (which will also appear in the call for participants, etc.)

These items are due by November 13, 2017. Please submit your application online at https://www.xcdsystem.com/gsa. Your username and password are the same ones you use to log in to your GSA profile at https://thegsa.org/members/profile.

Please note that you must be a current member of the GSA to submit a proposal. If you need your password reset, please contact Ms. Ursula Gray (UG@press.jhu.edu) at Johns Hopkins University Press. If technical questions or problems arise with the submission interface itself, please contact Elizabeth Fulton at techsupport@thegsa.org.

At this point, the GSA Seminar Committee will provide suggestions and assistance for the final submission, which is due by December 13, 2017. The committee will then review seminar proposals and post a list of approved seminars and their topics on the GSA website by early January 2018.

The GSA Seminar Committee consists of:

Margaret Eleanor Menninger (Texas State University) | mm48@txstate.edu (Chair)
Maria Mitchell (Franklin & Marshall College) | maria.mitchell@fandm.edu
Faye Stewart (Georgia State University) | fayestewart@gsu.edu

Please direct all inquiries to all three of us.

Statement by the German Studies Association on the Executive Order Concerning Immigration

The German Studies Association expresses its deep concern about and opposition to the Executive Order on the admission and vetting of non-citizens to the United States, signed by President Donald J. Trump on 27 January 2017.

As it is currently being implemented, this Executive Order presents serious challenges to the freedom of academic movement, academic freedom, and intellectual exchange. The impediments for students are significant. The Executive Order as it stands will seriously impact applications to graduate and undergraduate study at American universities and deny universities the benefit of the scholarly skills and contributions of researchers and visiting faculty members, thereby impoverishing our intellectual and academic institutions. The consequences of the Executive Order for American intellectual, economic, financial, educational, and scientific leadership could be catastrophic.

The German Studies Association feels a particular ethical, moral, and intellectual responsibility to speak out on behalf of refugees. Millions of Americans are directly descended from Germans who had to flee their native land for political or religious reasons, beginning in the eighteenth century and continuing until 1945 and thereafter. The contributions of German refugees to this country have been legion, from Carl Schurz to Albert Einstein. Moreover, since its creation in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany has provided a welcoming home to millions of refugees from political persecution in Europe and elsewhere. At the same time, we are keenly aware of the failure of US authorities to provide a haven to many Jewish refugees during the years of the Nazi dictatorship. That, too, leads us to call for this Executive Order to be rescinded immediately.

The GSA is a member of the American Council of Learned Societies, and wholeheartedly supports the statements of many fellow ACLS societies, which together represent tens of thousands of educators calling for the immediate reversal of this unwarranted decision.

2016 Prizes Announced

2016 DAAD Book Prize

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Matt Erlin, Washington University of St. Louis, is the winner of this year's DAAD Book Prize for the best book in literature or cultural studies published during the years 2014 and 2015. His book Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815 was published by Signale/Cornell University Press in 2014.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Matt Erlin's Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815 (Signale/Cornell University Press, 2014) is an engrossing, elegantly written, and carefully argued work. Erlin approaches 'luxury' as a Foucauldian field of discourse, and combines readings from the period's economists, social theorists, and critics to flesh out the contours of the debate surrounding the term. Close readings of important novels show the ways in which they positioned themselves within this discourse as positive, even necessary, luxuries. The book elucidates an important moment in German culture — the end of the Enlightenment and the rise of consumer culture — with implications for other national cultures, as well as for our understanding of subsequent developments in Germany. As the Digital Age calls the significance of literature into question, Erlin's approach prompts a useful rethinking of long-held assumptions.

2016 DAAD Article Prize

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor George S. Williamson (Florida State University) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in Germanistik or cultural studies published in the German Studies Review during the years 2014 and 2015. His article, "'Thought Is in Itself a Dangerous Operation': The Campaign Against 'Revolutionary Machinations' in Germany, 1819-1828," appeared in the GSR, volume 28, no. 2 (May 2015).

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Professor Williamson's article, "'Thought Is in Itself a Dangerous Operation': The Campaign Against 'Revolutionary Machinations' in Germany, 1819-1828," examines the ways the state apparatus was deployed to locate and disrupt revolutionary groups in Vormärz Germany. It focuses on the means and ends of the logic of surveillance and thus provides important historical context for our own confrontations with political violence. Professor Williamson's essay was included in a special issue of the the GSR dedicated to the problem of "surveillance and German studies."

2016 Graduate Student Paper Prize

The GSA is proud to announce that this year's Graduate Student Paper Prize for the best paper in German Studies written in 2014-15 is awarded to Ariana Orozco, University of Michigan (now at Kalamazoo College): "The Objects of Remembrance: Jenny Erpenbeck's Short Stories Alongside Contemporary Exhibitions of East German Material Culture." The essay will be published in a future issue of the German Studies Review. The GSA congratulates her for her excellent achievement and thanks the selection committee for its outstanding work.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Ariana Orozco's well-argued and well-formulated essay, "The Objects of Remembrance: Jenny Erpenbeck's Short Stories Alongside Contemporary Exhibitions of East German Material Culture" compares memory practices and objects of everyday life in museum exhibits and literature. Contrasting the 2012 exhibit "Fokus DDR" at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin and the 2011 exhibit "aufgehobene Dinge" at the Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR in Eisenhüttenstadt, the essay also demonstrates how Jenny Erpenbeck's two short story collections Tand (2001) and Dinge, die verschwinden (2009) narrate everyday life in East Germany through material culture and the intrusion of personal memory.

Anniversary Podcast Series

The Johns Hopkins University Press has developed a special podcast series to celebrate the German Studies Association's 40th anniversary. The links below will take you to the six episodes in this series, which examines the GSA’s founding, the success of the annual meeting and the organization’s future plans.

Listen or download now at the podcast page.