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Presidential Undergraduate Prize

Nominations for this prize are now closed. 

Award Description

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, 2023. The deadline for nominations was October 2, 2023. 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 2024 Annual Meeting. (**roundtrip economy-class airfare will be covered and hotel accommodation for up to 2 nights at the conference hotel rate, or rough equivalent thereof if the conference hotel is booked).

2022-2023 Presidential Undergraduate Prize Winner

  • No prize awarded this year.

Nomination Guidelines

To nominate a student's work for the 2023-2024 Presidential Undergraduate Prize, please notify the ACLA Secretariat (  by October 2, 2023. Nominators should submit a letter or report of one or two pages, outlining the exceptional qualities of the nominated essay. Copies of the nominating letter should be sent, along with copies of the student's work, to the Secretariat by the deadline. 

2022-2023 Presidential Undergraduate Prize Committee

Previous Presidential Undergraduate Winners
  • Elena Steiert (Washington University in St. Louis), for thesis "Ariadne as Heteropessimist: Finding Queer Futures in the Poetry of Catullus, H.D., and Analicia Sotelo" (CITATION)
  • Hilah Kohen (Washington University in St. Louis), "The 'Russian Craze' and the Silver Age: Missed Connections in the Anglophone Canon of Russian Literature." CITATION and Honorable Mention: Andreína Himy (The New School), "Sound and the Limits of Dialogue: Dostoevsky, Faulkner, and Bakhtin." 
  • Max Rowe (Northwestern University) for his essay entitled "Heels, Heels, Heels, Heels, Heels:  Repetition and Mu Shiyings Metropolis" (CITATION)
  • Emma Montgomery (Northwestern University) for her essay entitled "The Diasporic Archive:  A Black Atlantic Poetics of Liberation through Limitation" (2018) (CITATION)
  • Mary Francis Bradford (Northwestern University) for her essay “Performing Frida(,) Performing Indigeneity” (2017) (CITATION)
  • 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)