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Presidential Prizes

In support of its mission to promote the discipline of comparative literature, the American Comparative Literature Association has established two new 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 prize carries an award of $500 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 Master's Prize:

  • Karolina Watroba (University of Oxford), for her thesis "World Literature and Literary Value: Is ‘Global’ the New 'Lowbrow'?" (CITATION)
Previous Presidential Masters winners
  • 2016: Elizabeth Gray (Brown University), for her thesis "Dulcinéia Catadora: Cardboard Corporeality and Collective Art in Brazil" (CITATION)
  • 2013: Tavid Mulder (University of Washington), for his thesis, "Terror and Totality: Realism in Juan José Saer’s Glosa" (CITATION)
  • 2012: Ellen Smith (Princeton University), for her thesis, "Different Workers: Katharine Susannah Prichard's Station Writings." (CITATION)
  • 2011: Michal Raizen (University of Texas at Austin), for her thesis, "Reflections of a Jewish ibn 'arab: Language, Identity, and Collectivity in Eli Amir's Yasmin." (CITATION)

Congratulations to the winner of the 2017 Presidential Undergraduate Prize:

  • Mary Francis Bradford (Northwestern University) for her essay “Performing Frida(,) Performing Indigeneity” (CITATION)
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)
    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)
    Honorable Mention: Andrea Yamsuan (University of California at Los Angeles), for her paper, "Possibilities of Paradise in Yeats and Rilke." (2010) (CITATION)

Nomination Process

The Association welcomes submission of an entry by any institution.

  • The Presidential Master's Prize goes to the best thesis, report or substantial essay nominated by a department or program at 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.  

Submit a letter or report of one or two pages, outlining the exceptional qualities of the nominated project to the ACLA secretariat, Alexander Beecroft, and the chair of the committee by the deadline of October 1, 2018 by completing the form below. 

Please note: only one submission per institution will be considered.
Nominators should submit a letter or report of one or two pages, outlining the exceptional qualities of the nominated work.
If available, please upload electronic copies of the nominated work. *See below for information about mailing copies if an electronic version is not available.

*If no electronic version of the nominated work is available, copies should be sent, along with copies of the nominating letter, to the ACLA and each member of the committee.

American Comparative Literature Association
University of South Carolina Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
1620 College Street, Rm. 813A
Columbia SC 29208

The Presidential Master's prize committee for 2018-19 is:

Susannah Gottlieb, (Committee Chair, 2018-19)
Northwestern University, Department of English
University Hall 215
1897 Sheridan Rd.
Evanston, IL 60208

Tamara Chin
Brown University
Box E, Marston Hall 
346 Brook Street
Providence, RI 02912

Ping-hui Liao
UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
Literature Department
La Jolla, CA 92093