DAAD/GSA article prize

This $500 prize is funded through the North American office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and awarded by a GSA committee. Eligibility is restricted to articles published in German Studies Review. The winner receives the prize during the banquet of the GSA Annual Conference.

We are pleased to announce the DAAD/GSA Article Prize, awarded in 2022 for the best article in Germanistik or cultural studies that appeared in the German Studies Review in 2021.

Committee members:

  • Matthew Birkhold (chair, German, Ohio State)
  • Ed Dickinson (UC Davis, history)
  • Berna Gueneli (U Georgia)
Inquiries, nominations, and submissions should be sent to the committee chair.


2022 Prize Committee: Matthew Birkhold (Ohio State, Committee Chair), Ed Dickinson (UC Davis), and Berna Gueneli (U Georgia).


In his captivating article, Peter Schweppe investigates the ways in which graffiti challenged notions of authorship, reading, and materiality in the West German protest movement of 1968. Graffiti, after all, cannot be circulated or stored like a flyer or book, rendering it a distinct form of aesthetic resistance. Schweppe productively brings a fringe medium into the realm of literature while compelling our field to critically examine our scholarly tendency to privilege certain types of texts over others, including ephemeral acts of writing, like ink sprayed onto a wall. Schweppe astutely argues that “graffiti’s ephemerality can also be interpreted as a mobilizing factor that promoted a dynamic and essential overlap of literary and urban practices like gazing, reading, or listening.” In engaging prose, he analyzes evocative and droll examples of graffiti to demonstrate how these texts influenced public institutions and public discourse, including conventional literary accounts of 1968. Schweppe makes innovative use of scholarship in German Studies and opens the door for further exciting work on this overlooked format of protest literature.

Previous award cycles
Winner of the DAAD/GSA 2021 Best Article Prize:

Margareta Ingrid Christian, “Telluric Poetics: The City and Its Natural Histories in Thomas Kling’s Poem ‘Manhattan Mundraum’,” German Studies Review 43.3 (2020): pp. 571-92

2021 Prize Committee: Qinna Shen (Bryn Mawr College; Committee Chair), Pieter Judson (European University Institute), and Lorie Vanchena (University of Kansas).


Thomas Kling (1957-2005), a towering figure in German postwar poetry, is perhaps himself largely responsible for his own obscurity today. His poetry is idiosyncratic, absurd, compact, thus for most readers alienating and incomprehensible. Professor Margareta Ingrid Christian laudably tackles Kling’s difficult work and deftly reveals the brilliance and ingenuity of his poetry. In Kling’s “Manhattan Mundraum,” Manhattan is spatialized as “a cavernous mouth” or “a paleontological forest,” and its skyscrapers are “teeth” or “fossilized trees.” Kling thus depicts the geophysical city in anatomical and paleopoetic metaphor. Through his innovative and multivalent poetic vehicle called Sprachkörper, the geological, the biological, and the archeological converge. Christian explores the linguistic corporeality and material language employed in Kling’s poem, and makes fascinating juxtapositions between language and earth, etymology and paleography, as well as philology and nature. Christian provides illuminating and intriguing readings, pointing out semantic multivalences of words and Kling’s ambitious representation of the city as body and the city as text. Christian compares Kling’s depiction of geophysical burrows of the New York subway system, for example, to the folds of a human brain and to the subtexts or “undertexts” of the poem. Readers can feel both Kling’s and Christian’s joy in encoding and decoding, respectively, words such as Mund (implicitly also Mündung) and Zunge (implicitly also Landzunge). Mund and Zunge, for example, could further form a nexus with Kling’s poetry readings which he calls Sprachinstallationen, complementing the visual quality of his texts with an acoustic dimension. In the end, Christian discovers the pathos in Kling’s apparently unfeeling, unapproachable poetry. He is in fact a Sprachekstatiker. Moreover, his linguistic erudition exudes what Christian calls a “linguistic intemperance,” which makes Kling’s work both vexing and appealing.

Christian’s original approach resembles that of a geologist who penetrates the semantic, textual, and cultural strata of Kling’s telluric poetics. She is also an archeologist, as she excavates memories from New York’s past and present and word-treasures from Kling’s poem, as well as a biologist, as she dissects Kling’s corporeal language, with Klingian incisiveness and ease. Christian’s essay also displays impressive scholarly breadth and draws on Benn, Goethe, Stifter, Celan, Sebald, and Kafka when discussing Kling’s intellectual interlocutors. Christian embraces the unwieldy text of Kling, peeling away its semantic and cultural layers—no small task—thus making sense of its seeming nonsense and rendering inaccessible poetry accessible. This prize-winning article also successfully brings together culture and nature, Geistes- and Naturwissenschaft, as well as Germany and America. Congratulations, Dr. Christian!

2020 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD/GSA article prize committee warmly congratulates historian Joe Perry, whose “Love Parade 1996: Techno Playworlds & the Neo-Liberalization of Post-Wall Berlin” German Studies Review 42:3 (October 2019) has been selected as 2019’s winner.

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

Perry’s article looks at Berlin’s world-famous Love Parade, the city’s euphoric festival of music, dance, costume, and drugs, and how it contributed – quite in contrast to the techno scene’s ethos of “effervescent cultural experimentation” – to the creation of a fully globalized New Berlin, playground for the “Easy Jet Set.” Committee members praised the article as engaging enough to be assigned to undergraduates, while at the same time exemplifying what might be called critical theory in action, as it exposes the harnessing of art in the service of neoliberal Berlin’s renaissance as a global “creative class” destination. Rather than nourishing rebellion, Perry shows, the Love Parade’s original spirit of creativity and transgression instead spurred urban boosterism and marketing strategies, contributing to the city’s post-1990 gentrification. All committee members admired Perry’s cultivation and analysis of a broad collection of sources, from film and techno-scene videos to statements by city officials to social media sites (many now defunct) and fanzines.

Prize Committee : Monica Black (chair), Matthew Handelman, Kristin Kopp

2019 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD/GSA Article Prize for the Best Article Published in the German Studies Review during the previous year was awarded to Professor Sara S. Poor (Princeton University) for her article “The Curious Multilingual Prehistory of French and German Monolingualism,” German Studies Review 41, no. 3 (2018): 465-485. Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

Sara Poor’s article reinterprets the significance of the 842 Strasbourg oaths sworn by Louis the German and Charles the Bald. These oaths have commonly been understood as a foundational event that signaled the dawn of monolingual German and French nations. Poor’s article argues instead that this narrative of historical origin is a myth produced following the rise of print and reinforced by nineteenth-century nationalist interests. Poor shows that all parties to the oath, the leaders and their followers alike, operated in a multilingual environment where “mother tongue” and “native language” were not necessarily one and the same. Poor suggests that the 20 concept of “customary language” can help overcome this difficulty and restore our understanding of the Strasbourg oaths to its multilingual context.

Our committee finds Sara Poor’s article to be outstanding in terms of content, scope, innovation, and style. Poor’s complex argument, based as it is on close readings of historical and linguistic records, scrutiny of sources and secondary materials, and examinations of terminologies associated with discourses on monolingualism and nationhood, is conveyed with exceptional clarity. What is more, Poor manages to draw out very clearly what is at stake in her reading, namely the question of how we position ourselves vis-à-vis narratives about native languages and cultural identities, monolingualism and nations, national literatures, and the practice of the discipline of Germanistik. Such questions of course become all the more urgent because of the need to interrogate our disciplinary assumptions and practices at a time when academia in general and the humanities in particular are experiencing a crisis, and especially because of the fraught political moment in which we live. Poor urges us to work against a kind of Geschichtsvergessenheit, and to replace whatever mythical assumptions we—and the discipline of Germanistik—may make about monolingualism, nation, and language with a renewed dedication to the study of political, linguistic, and literary history. As Sara Poor so elegantly shows us, in the current historical moment, which is marked not least by mass migrations caused by wars, poverty, and climate change, and which therefore forces us to rethink notions of nation, belonging, and language, it behooves us to examine once more our multilingual origins.

Prize Committee: Imke Meyer (University of Illinois at Chicago), Elke Siegel (Cornell University), Nathan Stoltzfus (Florida State University).

2018 Prize Winner Announced

The winner is Kerstin Steitz (Old Dominion University) for her article "Juristische und Epische Verfremdung. Fritz Bauers Kritik am Frankfurter Auschwitz-Prozess (1963–1965) und Peter Weiss’ dramatische Prozessbearbeitung Die Ermittlung. Oratorium in 11 Gesängen (1965)," German Studies Review 40, no. 1 (2017): 79-101.

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

This lucidly argued and well-researched article weaves together many aspects of the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-1965) in a convincing, beautiful, and indeed poetic way. It does so by contextualizing and analyzing the work of state prosecutor Fritz Bauer, on the one hand, and the trial's artistic representation in the work of Peter Weiss, on the other hand. Crucial for Steitz is the fact that Bauer actively supported Weiss's work and found it to be complimentary to the inherently limited legal system in 1960s West Germany. Steitz's rich and detailed analysis ranges from historical questions to legal questions to questions about cultural production, including of genre and form. As such, the article exemplifies the very best kind of GSR article: it addressed Dichtung und Wahrheit and breaks open the complex relationship between works of art, the legal system, politics, and much more.

Prize committee: Yair Mintzker (Princeton University), Harry M. Liebersohn (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Laurie Marhoefer (University of Washington), May Mergenthaler (Ohio State University).

2017 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Maria Makela (California College of the Arts) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in literature or cultural studies published in the German Studies Review during the years 2015 and 2016. Her article, "Rejuvenation and Regen(d)eration: Der Steinachfilm, Sex Glands, and Weimar-Era Visual and Literary Culture," appeared in the GSR, volume 38, no. 1 (February 2015).

Here is the prize committee’s laudatio:

Maria Makela's well-argued and well-formulated essay, "Rejuvenation and Regen(d)eration: Der Steinachfilm, Sex Glands, and Weimar-Era Visual and Literary Culture," has an impressive range for its interdisciplinary breadth and depth, engaging at once visual, literary and film studies, medical discourses, as well as gender and sexuality studies. While it makes a unique contribution to its discreet area of inquiry, it also puts a vast array of fields into conversation with ease. Makela uses an interdisciplinary approach to consider Der Steinachfilm (1923), about which little has hitherto been published. Makela presents the era's lively discourse about sex, gender formation and appearance, and also on aging and rejuvenation. Eugen Steinach, a professor of physiology at the University of Vienna and the most of famous endocrinologist of the era, experimented with the transplantation of ovaries and testicles and argued that hormones helped to define the physiology of sex and gender identity. This turn of the century discourse, which intensified at the end of World War I and throughout the 1920s, provides the context out of which Der Steinachfilm arose. The film had two iterations: a scientific version released in 1922, entitled Steinachsforschungen (Steinach's Research)and the popular version released in 1923. This film and the related scientific and popular discourse inflected much Weimar-era cultural production and provide new perspectives on the era's canonical visual and literary texts, including Anton Räderscheidt's painting “Selbstbildnis” (Self-Portrait, 1928), Vicki Baum's novel Helene Willfüer (1929), Hannah Höch's photomontages and Til Brugmann's literary grotesques.

Makela's article deftly reads together Weimar-era medical and scientific discourses; visual, literary and filmic texts; and sex and gender studies, making a substantive contribution to these fields. Additionally, it is so accessibly written that one could assign it to undergraduates or give it to people outside academia. An impressive range of illustrations undescores the power of the argument. A very well-written, engaging, and edifying read!

Prize Committee: Professors Christina Gerhardt (University of Hawai’i, chair), Tobias Boes (University of Notre Dame), and Sonja Klocke (University of Wisconsin—Madison).

2016 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor George S. Williamson (Florida State University) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in history or social sciences published in the German Studies Review during the years 2014 and 2015. His article, "'Thought Is in Itself a Dangerous Operation': The Campaign Against 'Revolutionary Machinations' in Germany, 1819-1828," appeared in the GSR, volume 28, no. 2 (May 2015).

Here is the text of the committee’s laudatio:

Professor Williamson's article, "'Thought Is in Itself a Dangerous Operation': The Campaign Against 'Revolutionary Machinations' in Germany, 1819-1828," examines the ways the state apparatus was deployed to locate and disrupt revolutionary groups in Vormärz Germany. It focuses on the means and ends of the logic of surveillance and thus provides important historical context for our own confrontations with political violence. Professor Williamson's essay was included in a special issue of the the GSR dedicated to the problem of "surveillance and German studies."

2015 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Tobias Boes (University of Notre Dame) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in Germanistik or cultural studies published in the German Studies Review during the years 2013 and 2014. His article, “Political Animals: Serengeti Shall Not Die and the Cultural Heritage of Mankind,” appeared in the GSR, volume 36, no. 1 (February 2013).

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

This article productively reevaluates Bernard Grzimek’s highly resonant 1959 documentary, Serengeti darf nicht sterben. Deploying Mary Louise Pratt’s concept of a “European project of global consciousness,” it problematizes the film’s advocacy for Serengeti wildlife in the name of a cultural and natural heritage “belonging to all mankind.” Through compelling analyses of aerial sequences and voice-overs in relation to Nazi and colonialist value systems, the article lays bare the film’s use of a disembodied, high altitude visual perspective to envision East African landscapes ideally void of local human presence. Such a perspective is shown to favor Western ways of viewing and power structures as they took shape in the emerging Cold War era, in part by disqualifying the perspectives and needs of local African populations as they attempt to shake off European colonial rule, but also by participating in visual regimes shaped by images made of planet earth during the early space race. These linkages enable the article to make important contributions to environmental studies, film studies, post-colonial studies and conceptions of space, as it raises important contemporary questions about a visual tradition that has heretofore largely figured as a major enabling condition for envisioning global interconnectedness and environmental awareness. 

2014 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Kira Thurman (University of Akron) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in history or social sciences published in the German Studies Review during the years 2012 and 2013. Her article, "Black Venus, White Bayreuth: Race, Sexuality, and the Depoliticization of Wagner in Postwar West Germany," appeared in the GSR, volume 35, no. 3 (October 2012).

The prize committee was chaired by Professor Shelley Baranowski (history, University of Akron). The other members of the committee are Professor Eva Giloi (history, Rutgers University, Newark) and Professor Edward Ross Dickinson (history, University of California, Davis). The GSA wishes to thank the committee for its hard and outstanding work, and congratulates Professor Thurman for her excellent achievement.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

In this cogently argued and intellectually adventurous article, Kira Thurman offers a nuanced and surprising account of the renegotiation of the meaning of race in postwar West Germany. Making the case for the significance of music in German politics and culture, the article focuses on a particular incident, the casting of an African American soprano in Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth Festival in 1961 by director Wieland Wagner, grandson of Richard Wagner, musical icon of German national culture and an enormously influential figure in German racist thought. Exploring the motivations for this move and public responses to it through careful and imaginative research, Thurman maps out the complex ways in which racial discourse could be used to support opposing cultural and political agendas. Most strikingly, the article demonstrates how extraordinarily long-lived exoticizing racist tropes (here the image of the "Black Venus" as embodiment of primitive sensuality) could be appropriated by cultural progressives to accomplish a self-consciously Brechtian subversion of xenophobic racist legacy of the Third Reich. Thurman's account complicates and deepens our understanding of the politics of race and culture in postwar Germany by reminding us of the interplay between the stubborn and pervasive persistence of racism and the depth and breadth of the desire to escape its legacy.

2013 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Ari Joskowicz (Vanderbilt University) is the winner of this year's DAAD Article Prize for the best article in Germanistik or cultural studies published in the German Studies Reviewduring the years 2011 and 2012. His article, "Heinrich Heine's Transparent Masks: Denominational Politics and the Poetics of Emancipation in Nineteenth Century Germany and France," appeared in the GSR, volume 34, no. 1 (February 2011).

The prize committee was chaired by Professor Jennifer Kapczynski of Washington University in St. Louis; the other members were Professor William Donahue, Duke University, and Professor John Pizer, Louisiana State University. The GSA wishes to thank the committee for its hard and outstanding work, and congratulates Professor Joskowicz for his excellent achievement.

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio:

Ari Joskowicz's article breaks new ground in its analysis of Heinrich Heine's strategic anti Catholicism. Making the case for Heine's "transparent masks," Joskowicz argues that the author overtly employed a "provisional, politically instrumental Protestantism" that, while playing to religious divisions of the day, provided him with a secure yet playful vantage from which to approach fundamental questions of emancipation. Drawing on the German and French reception of Heine's writings as well as the author's own words, Joskowicz shows that Heine took up the Protestant Catholic polemic in order to write himself into the position of a discursive insider and, in the process, to challenge a German intellectual culture that commonly sought to marginalize him as a Jew. Joskowicz makes the case that Heine, writing for a German audience well aware of his status as a convert, at once mobilized denominational stereotypes and criticized their exclusionary nature. Joskowicz's analysis not only makes an important contribution to the scholarship on a canonical author, but also raises a host of key theoretical questions pertinent to the wider fields of secularization studies, religious studies, and exile studies. In exploring Heine's complex relationship to the denominational debates of his day, the article provides a critical re examination of confession, demonstrating how a declaration of faith may serve less as a marker of religious conviction than as a starting point for an oppositional identity politics.

2012 Prize Winner Announced

The DAAD and the GSA are proud to announce that Professor Edward Dickinson (University of California, Davis) is the winner of this year’s DAAD Article Prize for the best article in history or social sciences published in German Studies Review during the years 2010 and 2011.

His article, “Altitude and Whiteness: Germanizing the Alps and Alpinizing the Germans, 1875-1935,” appeared in the GSR, volume 33, no. 3 (October 2010). The prize committee consisted of Professors Elizabeth Heineman (chair), University of Iowa; Mark Clark, University of Virginia at Wise; Devin Pendas, Boston College. The GSA wishes to thank the committee for its hard and outstanding work, and congratulates Professor Dickinson for his excellent achievement.

Here is the text of the committee’s laudatio:

"In this powerfully argued, well-researched article, Professor Dickinson recasts our understanding of the genealogy of German and European racism. Contrary to the historiographic tendency to reduce the history of racist thought to its “scientific” dimensions, Dickinson points to two further dimensions crucial to the history of racism: the role of aesthetics and the influence of environmentalism. Taking the racial reconceptualization of the inhabitants of the Alps as his empirical referent, Dickinson shows how aesthetic judgments rescued a racial understanding of the Älpler at odds with the then extant scientific knowledge. Dickinson’s article offers a powerful corrective to an excessive emphasis on the linkages between science and racism, and sets forth new and exciting avenues for research, tracing the role of both aesthetic and environmental thought in the history of European racism. The article is a model of rigorous research and creative reconceptualization."