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Presidential Master's Prize

Note: Information about the 2019-2020 Competition for the ACLA Presidential Master's Prize will not be posted until summer 2019. The submission informaiton listed below is retained for historical purposes ONLY.

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, 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 $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).

No Presidential Master's Prize was awarded in 2018-2019.


Nominators should 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.  Copies of the nominating letter should also be sent, along with copies of the work, to each member of the committee by the deadline.

Note:  The list below was the committee for the 2018-19 academic year.  Committee memberships for 2019-2020 will be announced in Summer 2019.

The Presidential Master's prize committee for 2018-19 was:
Susannah Gottlieb, (Committee Chair, 2018-19) Northwestern University
Tamara Chin, Brown University
Ping-hui Liao, UC San Diego

Previous Presidential Masters winners:

  • 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)