November 2, 2017

Press Contact: John F. Stephens, asamedia@theasa.net
All requests for interviews should be submitted by email to the press contact

For additional information about the ASA Awards Program, click here

The American Studies Association is proud to recognize the continuing high level of scholarship examining our American cultures. We ask all members of the Association to join in congratulating their fellow members to be honored at this year’s award ceremony at our annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

For additional information about the annual meeting, click here

The Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, November 10, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, in the Crystal Foyer at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, with champagne and non-alcoholic beverages available to toast and cheer this year’s fantastic award winners! We hope to see you there!


The 2017 Constance M. Rourke Prize

Chair: Michael Innis-Jiménez, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Marguerite Nguyen, Wesleyan University
Ivy Wilson, Northwestern University

The Constance Rourke Prize has been awarded annually since 1987 for the best article published in American Quarterly. The winner of this year’s prize is Alex Lubin for his article, "American Studies, the Middle East, and the Question of Palestine,” 68:1 (March 2016).

This prize-winning essay examines the intellectual history of American studies programs and departments in the Middle East, especially the relationship of these programs to US State Department efforts at cultural diplomacy or “soft power” after the Cold War. Through this examination, the essay theorizes the relationship of transnational American studies scholarship in the Middle East to the internationalization of the field. In their efforts to understand the United States, American studies programs in the Middle East have foregrounded the question of Palestine in ways that make these programs distinct from US-based American studies programs that still often regard Palestine as “America’s last taboo.” In their insistence on centering the question of Palestine within their vision of American studies, American studies programs in the Middle East demonstrate the unruly consequences of the internationalization of the discipline in political geographies where American primacy and exceptionalism are contested.

The 2017 Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize

Chair: Michael Innis-Jiménez, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Marguerite Nguyen, Wesleyan UNiversity
Ivy Wilson, Northwestern University

The committee is pleased to choose “Lethal Housing: Reading Restrictive Covenants and Urban Black Women’s Grassroots Health Activism, 1930-1980” by Lisa Young as the winner of this year’s prize.

Written at the intersection of American studies, black studies, black feminist theory, and literary studies, this interdisciplinary project offers a study of the effects of (and activism responding to) restrictive covenants in the twentieth century United States. Attending in particular to black women writers who mobilize literary form as a means of critical and activist intervention into the legal regime of racially restricted housing, Young’s dissertation offers an exemplary model of interdisciplinary inquiry by moving between historical, legal, and literary archives to provide a compellingly argued and meticulously researched account of the ways in which black women writers have mobilized literature to shape what the author describes as “urban ecological literacy.” With its focus on the gendered effects of (and gendered responses to) restrictive covenants, Young’s research allows us to grasp the ways in which black women writers staged effective interventions against the forms of bio-political violence that have historically, and continue, to affect black life in the United States. In particular, the dissertation uses ecofeminist theory and urban ecology theory to generate an analysis of how Black women contributed to the ‘sustainability’ of lives, neighborhoods, communities.  She also traces roots of a tradition of ecological consciousness and activism in Black America. By showing us how the aesthetic realm (literature) is both a place to document and critique prevailing conditions, while staging activist interventions so as to open up new conditions of possibility, Lethal Housing makes a powerful argument for the critical role that the aesthetic may play in critiquing and reshaping the world, underlining the radical, agential, and devalued role that black women have always played in this process.

The 2017 Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize

Chair: Koritha Mitchell, Ohio State University
Aren Aizura, University of Minnesota
Maile Arvin, University of California, San Diego

The Gene Wise - Warren Susman Prize is awarded each year for the best paper to be presented by a graduate student at the annual meeting.  The winning paper may deal with any aspect of American history, literature, or culture, but should reflect the breadth, the critical imagination, the intellectual boldness, and the cross-disciplinary perspective so strongly a part of the scholarship of both Gene Wise and Warren Susman.

The committee is pleased to announce the award for the best graduate student paper submitted for the 2017 meeting will go to Danica B. Savonick of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for her paper “Unlearning 'the Criminality of Education': Toni Cade Bambara and the Cultural Work of Decolonization.”

According to the committee, “this year's pool contained excellent work on a wide array of topics, exhibiting very different kinds of analytical and methodological strengths! “

The 2017 Critical Ethnic Studies Essay Prize

Chair: Ralina L. Joseph, University of Washington
Sarah Hunt, University of British Columbia, Canada
Deborah Paredez, Columbia University
Kathryn Walkiewicz, University of California, San Diego

The Critical Ethnic Studies Essay Prize is awarded by the Committee on Critical Ethnic Studies for the best paper to be presented at the annual meeting in critical ethnic studies in comparative, transnational and global contexts.

The 2017 prizewinner is Evyn Lê Espiritu for her paper, "Vietnamese Refugee Settlers and the Temporality of Settler Militarism on Guam."  Finalist mention goes to Katherine Thorsteinson for her paper "Orange is the New Blackface: Economies of Enjoyment and the Formalist Killjoy."

The prize will be formally presented at the annual business meeting of the Critical Ethnic Studies Committee.

The 2017 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize

Chair: Nicole Fleetwood, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Raul Coronado, University of California, Berkeley
Darieck Scott, University of California, Berkeley

The American Studies Association has awarded the 2017 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize to Sarah Haley’s No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (University of North Carolina Press). Engaging, timely, and beautifully written, No Mercy Here offers a compelling, conceptually rich history of the institutional structures of Jim Crow modernity and its devastating effects on the lives of black women in Georgia. Rooted in black feminist criticism and interdisciplinary methods, Haley mines the archive to offer a two-pronged historical account. First, she historicizes the institutional mechanisms and state apparatuses that led to the systematic punishment, imprisonment, and forced labor of poor and working-class black women. Secondly, she creatively and with a nuanced ear listens to the traces these women left in the archive in order to humanize their lives. Detailing the brutality of racial and sexual violence inflicted upon imprisoned black women as technologies of racial capitalism, Haley also exposes how the women she studies critiqued punishment in the creation of blues songs, and performed other acts of resistance, refusal, and sabotage. The study offers powerful theoretical-historical insights on the intertwining of various discourses: US empire, queer-aberrant genders and sexualities, labor, and nation. An invaluable model of American studies scholarship, No Mercy Here is grounded in archival research in order to offer brilliant theoretical-intersectional insights and crafts a landmark narrative history.

Finalist mention goes to: Rami Fawaz, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (New York UNiversity Press).

The 2017 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize

Chair: Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas, Austin
Moustafa Bayoumi, Brooklyn College, City University of New York
Christina Hanhardt, University of Maryland, College Park

The American Studies Association has awarded the 2017 John Hope Franklin Prize for the best published book in American Studies to María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo’s Indian Given:  Racial Geographies across Mexico and the United States (Duke University Press).   Drawing on a mix of archival, historical, literary, and legal texts, Indian Given shows how los indios/Indians provided the condition of possibility for the emergence of Mexico and the United States.  Moving beyond comparison, it reveals the mutual imbrication of British and Spanish colonialisms and their dependence on indigenous peoples for their competing and complicit space-making endeavors, or racial geographies.  The committee was especially impressed by the book’s critical approach to comparison in bringing indigenous and Latin American frameworks, both still too often neglected, to American studies through its intensive focus on Mexican culture and history. The archival research that adds to the book’s historical scope further expands its valuable articulation of the concept of racial geographies.  Indian Given’s origins in the collective work of the Tepoztlán Institute provide an exemplary model for scholarship in American Studies that originates outside the continental U.S.  The book will be of conceptual and methodological use to scholars across the range of fields that encompass American Studies.

The following authors and books were named as finalists:  David A. Chang, The World and All the Things Upon It:  Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (University of Minnesota Press), Curtis Marez, Farm Worker Futurism:  Speculative Technologies of Resistance (University of Minnesota Press), and A. Naomi Paik, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II (University of North Carolina Press).

The 2017 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Prize

The ASA’s Committee on Gender and Sexuality Studies awards the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Prize to an independent scholar and/or contingent or community college faculty member who demonstrates an affinity with Anzaldúa’s oeuvre, vision, or political commitments and who addresses connections among some or all of the following categories:  race, ethnicity, citizenship, class, gender, sexuality, and dis/ability.

The 2017 prizewinner is Annette Rodríguez.  The committee was thoroughly impressed with Annette’s “important research on the lynching of Mexicans as a ‘communicating event, which reinforces hierarchies of gender, sexuality, race, citizenship, and national belonging’ and which illuminates women’s resistance to violence.  The Committee also noted her important work with underserved students and her own experiences as a non-traditional learner.

The Anzaldúa prize will be formally presented at the Annual Gender and Sexuality Studies Networking Brunch to be held on Saturday, November 11, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Regency D, Ballroom Level West Tower.

The 2017 Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award

The ASA Minority Scholars Committee awards the Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award to honor a scholar who, like Richard Yarborough, demonstrates dedication to and excellence in mentoring underrepresented faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and/or college, university or high school students.

The 2017 prizewinner is Ruth Wilson Gilmore, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.   According to her nominators, "We can think of no scholar and teacher more deserving of this award than Ruthie Gilmore. She has served as a mentor–in the widest sense possible--to each of us in (and after) graduate school, and in life. Through mentorship and example, she has taught us how to think; how to teach; how to lead; how to mentor; and how to forge, fortify, and sharpen the tools in our struggles for liberation inside and outside of the academy.  Ruthie has consistently dedicated herself to the mentoring and advisement of scholars of color."

The Yarborough award will be formally presented at the Annual Mentoring Breakfast of the Minority Scholars Committee to be held on Saturday, November 11, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Regency D, Ballroom Level West Tower.

The 2017 Mary C. Turpie Prize

Chair: Lisa Lowe, Tufts University
Phillip Deloria, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Kevin Murphy, University of Minnesota

Annually, the American Studies Association gives the Mary C. Turpie Prize, established in 1993, to a person who has demonstrated outstanding abilities and achievement in American Studies teaching, advising, and program development at the local or regional level.

The 2017 prize winner is Jean-Christophe Agnew, Yale University.  Agnew's nominators emphasize that his accomplishments include the creation of core elements of the Yale undergraduate curriculum (including the famous “Formation of Modern American Culture” - multi-course sequence in U.S. cultural history, and the “Junior Seminar”), and that he “set an unsurpassed standard in graduate advising and mentorship” to the American Studies program. Many comment that his lectures were rich tour de force presentations whose remarkable vitality is evoked in Jon Butler’s description: “Jean-Christophe’s command of material, his deft examples, and his ability to synthesize without ever losing the thread of an argument or the students’ attention, his intellectual acuity, and indeed, a delivery hinging on vibrant analysis and never on histrionics simply left one in awe of his achievement. The lectures seemed like arrows effortlessly renewing themselves as they flew. Their sheer intellectual excitement and vivid, eye-popping resuscitation of an evolving American culture alive with contradictions and possibilities epitomized the ideal introductory course for college freshmen and sophomores who often saw America present and past as inevitable, even natural.” Michael Denning describes Agnew’s leadership in developing a team-taught year-long junior seminar on “U.S. from colony to empire” that became a model in the program for the following decades.  Agnew is a cultural historian and social theorist who has written field-changing works on the history of U.S. consumerism and capitalist culture, Worlds Apart: The Market and the Theatre in Anglo-American Thought, 1550-1750 (Cambridge UP, 1986) and with R. Rosenzweig, A Companion to Post-1945 America (Blackwell, 2002). Agnew’s retirement after four decades is imminent. 

The Angela Y. Davis Prize, the Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize, and the Yasuo Sakakibara Prize will not be awarded this year.

Post date: November 2, 2017