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Presidential Undergraduate Prize

In support of its mission to promote the discipline of comparative literature, the American Comparative Literature Association has established two prizes recognizing student accomplishment in comparative literary study. The President's Awards for Best Master's Thesis and for Best Undergraduate Essay on a Comparative Topic together honor comparative work broadly construed at these important stages of educational achievement. Work will be judged based on theoretical rigor, comparative breadth, and lucidity of exposition. Though not a formal requirement, especially for the Undergraduate essay prize, work that engages in comparison across linguistic boundaries will be especially valued by the committee.

The Association welcomes submission of an entry by any institution.

The Presidential Undergraduate Prize goes to the best substantial essay nominated by a department or program. The project must be completed by July 1, 2018. The deadline for nominations is October 1, 2018. Each institution may nominate one student in the field of comparative literature, identified as the best without regard to actual departmental affiliation. The prize carries an award of $250 and a certificate, complimentary registration for the Annual Meeting, as well as hotel and airfare accommodations** (not including food) to facilitate the recipient attending the 2019 Annual Meeting. (**economy-class airfare roundtrip from wherever the prize winner is located the week before the conference, and hotel accommodation for up to 4 nights at the conference hotel rate, or rough equivalent thereof if the conference hotel is booked).

Congratulations to the winner of the 2017 Presidential Undergraduate Prize:

  • Mary Francis Bradford (Northwestern University) for her essay “Performing Frida(,) Performing Indigeneity” (CITATION)


To nominate a student's work for the 2019 Presidential Prize, please notify both the ACLA secretariat, Alexander Beecroft, and the chair of the committee by October 1, 2018.

Nominators should submit a letter or report of one or two pages, outlining the exceptional qualities of the nominated dissertation. Copies of the nominating letter should be sent, along with copies of the student's work, to each member of the committee by the deadline.

The Presidential Master's prize committee for 2018-2019 is:
Susannah Gottlieb, (Committee Chair, 2018-2019),Northwestern University
Tamara Chin, Brown University
Ping-hui Liao, UC San Diego

Previous Presidential Undergraduate winners:

  • Rosie Williams (Duke University) for her essay, "Paradox of Innocence: Objects and Architecture and the Violence of Space" (2016) (CITATION)
  • Sherilyn Hellberg, for her paper, “Joyce’s “Mamafesta”: On Form, Femininity and the Awakening of ALP” (2014) (CITATION)
    and
    Honorable Mention: Alice Maglio, for her paper “Into the Abyss: Framing in 1001 Nights and The Decameron” (2014) (CITATION)
  • Marissa Rivera (Colorado College), for her paper, "Reflexive Revisionism: Latin American Magical Realism and Australian Postcoloniality in Gould's Book of Fish" (2012) (CITATION)
  • Kirsten Harmon (Georgetown University), for her paper, "Voices of the South. Re-telling History through Fiction in the Works of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez." (2010) (CITATION)
    and
    Honorable Mention: Andrea Yamsuan (University of California at Los Angeles), for her paper, "Possibilities of Paradise in Yeats and Rilke." (2010) (CITATION)