Obama Dissertation Prize

A Dissertation Prize in the amount of € 1000 will be awarded annually for outstanding Ph.D. work in the field of transnational American studies. It is sponsored by the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Eligible for submission are dissertations completed at either a German or a foreign university in transnational American Studies and related fields, such as Early American Studies, Indigenous Studies, Life Writing, Ecology, Transnational History, Asian American/Pacific Studies, Material and Media Studies, Religious Studies, International Politics, and Economy.

Unpublished manuscripts of dissertations, defended in the last two years, written in German or English, will be evaluated by an international panel to select the award winner.

In order to apply for the Obama Institute Dissertation Prize, please submit:

  • a cover letter
  • abstract of your dissertation (two pages)
  • two letters of reference (e.g. the supervisors’ dissertation reports)
  • your CV

The deadline for submission is May 1, 2019. Please submit these documents via email.

The international panel will discuss all applications and request the submission of the most promising dissertation manuscripts until June 1, 2019.

The award winner will be announced in September of each year. The award ceremony takes place annually in November (Thanksgiving Day). At this occasion the award recipient will be asked to give a presentation on his/her work.


Please send your application to the following address:

Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies
Obama Dissertation Prize
Fachbereich 05 Philosophie – Philologie
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (JGU)
Jacob-Welder-Weg 18
55128 Mainz

Obama Dissertation Prize Recipient 2016
The Obama Dissertation Prize was awarded to Stephan Kuhl (Goethe Universität, Frankfurt) for his excellent dissertation entitled The Novels of Crude Psychology: Richard Wright, Fredric Wertham, and the Twofold Truth of Literary Practice.

The Galinski prizes were awarded to Abby Russell for her graduate seminar paper The Colonial Relation in the Caribbean: the Performative Commons of Leonora Sansay’s Secrect History and to Christian Müller for his Seminarshausarbeit Melville’s ‚The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids‘.

Obama Dissertation Prize Recipient 2015
In 2015, the Obama Dissertation Prize was awarded to Holger Drössler for his excellent dissertation entitled Islands of Labor: Community, Conflict, and Resistance in Colonial Samoa, 1889-1919.

A second prize was awarded to Curd Benjamin Knüpfer for his dissertation entitled Right Wing Realities? News Media Fragmentation, Conservatism, and the Framing of U.S. Foreign Policy.