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Presidential Master's Prize

Award Description

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 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 project must be completed by July 1, 2020. The deadline for nominations is November 1, 2020.  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 $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 2021 Annual Meeting. (**economy-class airfare roundtrip from wherever the prize winner is located the week before the conference, and hotel accommodation for up to 3 nights at the conference hotel rate, or rough equivalent thereof if the conference hotel is booked).

2019-2020 Presidential Master's Prize Winner:

  • Anh Nguyen (Georgetown University), "The Novel of Unlearning: Education, Development, and Interracial Intimacies in Cold War Africa."

Nomination Guidelines

Nominators should submit a letter or report of one or two pages, outlining the exceptional qualities of the nominated project to the ACLA secretariat and to committee members by the deadline of November 1, 2020. Please note that we will not accept hard copies of this year's nominations and ask for only PDFs to be emailed to the four addresses below. 


2020-2021 Committee Members


Previous Presidential Masters Winners

  • 2018-2019: No winner selected
  • 2017: Karolina Watroba (University of Oxford), for her thesis "World Literature and Literary Value: Is ‘Global’ the New 'Lowbrow'?" (CITATION)
  • 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)