grants & prizes

The DAAD Book Prize of the GSA

This prize is funded through the North American office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and carries an award of $1,000. Under the provision of the DAAD grant, eligibility is restricted to authors who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States and Canada. Translations, editions, anthologies, memoirs, and books that have been previously published are not eligible.

2018 Prize Submissions Open

In 2018 the DAAD/GSA Book Prize will be awarded for the best book in Germanistik or cultural studies that has been published in 2016 or 2017. Inquiries, nominations, and submissions should be sent to the committee chair, Professor Mara Wade (German, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, mwade@illinois.edu), by 20 February 2018. The other members of the committee are Professors Vance Byrd (German, Grinnell College) and Marco Abel (English, University of Nebraska, Lincoln).

2017 Prize Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Greg Eghigian (Pennsylvania State University) is the winner of this year's DAAD Book Prize for the best book in history or social sciences published during the years 2015 and 2016. His book The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine and the Convict in Twentieth Century Germany was published by University of Michigan Press in 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.


2016 Prize Announced

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.

2015 Prize Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor H. Glenn Penny, University of Iowa is the winner of this year's DAAD Book Prize for the best book in history or social sciences published during the years 2013 and 2014. His book Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1800 was published by Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press in 2013.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Glenn Penny’s book Kindred by Choice crosses time and space in exemplary fashion. His work is rooted in German communities – whether Biedermeier readers marveling at the Leatherstocking Tales, or German settlers in New Ulm, Minnesota, in the 1860s, or East and West German hobbyists camping out in teepees. His work is also rooted in American Indian communities – those who chose to honor German curiosity and enthusiasm by taking part in a long-enduring trans-Atlantic exchange. In a series of well-written, methodically rich chapters, Penny asks us to rethink the attitude of condescension commonly displayed toward German fans of Karl May or Wild West shows. For many Germans, the “elective affinity” for American Indians was a serious and respectful engagement, and it showed remarkable continuity across the political ruptures of the 20th Century. The committee applauds Penny’s provocative, revisionist account for its contribution to German Studies, above all its lucid interpretation of how the encounter with American Indians inflected German identities and German values over time.

2014 Prize Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Marco Abel, University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the winner of this year's DAAD Book Prize for the best book in literature or cultural studies published during the years 2012 and 2013. His book The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School was published by Camden House in 2013. The prize committee consisted of Professor Stephan K. Schindler, University of South Florida (Committee Chair); Professor Gerd Gemünden, Dartmouth College; and Professor Deniz Göktürk, University of California, Berkeley. The GSA wishes to thank the committee for its hard and outstanding work, and congratulates Professor Abel for his excellent achievement.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Marco Abel's monograph analyzes the films of the so-called Berlin School, a group of contemporary German directors whose innovative style of filmmaking constitutes a new film movement that artistically confronts the legacies of the New German Cinema of the 1970s. Filmmakers such as Christian Petzold, Thomas Arslan, Christoph Hochhäusler or Angela Schanelec, just to name a few of the most significant, have created a "minor cinema" that opposes the stylistic conventions and political complacencies of post-Wall mainstream German cinema. With its unusual style of realism and its provoking use of images, montage, and story-telling the Berlin School Cinema resists easy identification and demands a self-reflexive and engaged audience.

Abel's book impresses through its theoretical ambition, wide-ranging archival research--including in-depth interviews with many of its key directors--and lucid analyses of films, making a convincing case why these films matter. Understanding this body of work as a counter-cinema, Abel scrutinizes the political dimension of Berlin School films, which refute the facile ideology of the heritage film and the shallowness of conventional social dramas. While the majority of Berlin School films are firmly focused on the here and now, Abel reveals how they must nevertheless be read as erudite commentary on postwar and particularly post-Wall Germany. This newest wave of German cinema has attracted its fair share of critics, but Abel can claim to have written its definitive account. The Counter-Cinema of the Berlin School has the makings of an instant classic.

2013 Prize Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor David Ciarlo (University of Colorado, Boulder) is the winner of this year's DAAD Book Prize for the best book in history or social sciences published during the years 2011 and 2012. His book, Advertising Empire: Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany, was published by Harvard University Press in 2011. The prize committee consisted of Professors Carl Caldwell, Rice University (chair); Monica Black, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Benjamin Marschke, Humboldt State University. The GSA wishes to thank the committee for its hard and outstanding work, and congratulates Professor Ciarlo for his excellent achievement.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

In Advertising Empire, David Ciarlo masterfully connects several different historiographies in order to get at how commercial imagery developed in Germany, how it was wrapped up in national and international colonial projects, and how it shaped German perceptions of race. By looking carefully at the images used in advertising how and when they were patented, how they were used and borrowed he shows the role of American images of black minstrelsy, British colonial and commercial images, and commodity expositions in eventually creating a set of images that persist to this day (such as the "Sarotti moor"). The book stands out for its methodological sophistication, creative and extensive use of evidence, and clear structure and argument. Last but certainly not least, it stands out for its clear writing: even when he is describing the most complex semiotic or cultural theories, Ciarlo does so with a light touch and careful phrasing that renders the difficult accessible to a wide audience.