About the Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize

The Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize recognizes the best paper presented by a graduate student at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association.

The award honors two scholars who both wrote foundational essays on the importance of American studies as an intellectual field and as an institutional movement. Gene Wise was an American theorist and cultural historian best known for “‘Paradigm Dramas’ in American Studies: A Cultural and Institutional History of the Movement.” He taught at Case Western Reserve University and at the University of Maryland, College Park. Warren Susman was a cultural historian who published an influential collection of essays in 1984 entitled, Culture as History: The Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century. Susman taught at many institutions, including Cornell University and Northwestern University, before settling in as a professor of American history at Rutgers University.

Eligibility Requirements and Application Procedures

Who is eligible: Student members of the American Studies Association who have had papers accepted for the annual meeting may compete for this award. The winning author must be a current member of the association and registered for the annual meeting. The winning paper may deal with any aspect of American history, literature, or culture, but should reflect the breadth, the critical imagination, the intellectual boldness, and the cross-disciplinary perspective so strongly a part of the scholarship of both Gene Wise and Warren Susman. The paper must represent original work not previously presented.

Who can apply: Students can apply directly, or self-nominate.  Any paper given at the meeting - either in-person or virtually - is eligible for consideration, provided that it does not exceed 12 pages. The paper should be a work-in-progress. The author of the winning paper will receive a $500 award, to be announced in November.

How to submit an application:

Step 1: Assemble the materials required for consideration. These include: (1) a cover letter with author's name, institutional affiliation, paper title, and contact information, and (2) the conference paper. Papers should be 10-12 pages in length (approximately 3,500 words), including citations and notes. Unedited dissertation chapters or seminar-length papers are not acceptable. Illustrations are not counted as part of the 10-12 page limit and may be uploaded in a separate PDF file. 

Step 2: Log onto the ASA website to submit the application formYou will be asked to enter the applicant's information (title, affiliation, address) before being prompted to upload a PDF of the materials outlined above. Application or nomination forms must be submitted no later than October 8. Late applications will not be accepted.

When is the deadline: October 2024

This Year's Winner (2023)

Rachel Leah Klein, USC American Studies and Ethnicity, “Double Violence and Insurgent Kinship: Women’s Prison Care Networks and Gendered Politics of Solidarity in California”

Past Winners 1987-2022

  • 2022: Giang Nguyen-Dien, University of Kansas, “Hận: On War, Memory, Trauma and Refugee Positionality”
  • 2021: Elspeth Iralu, "If It Flies, It Spies: Aerial Aesthetic Threats to Colonial Territoriality"
  • 2020: No Selection
  • 2019: Johnathan Smilges, Pennsylvania State University, “The Ex-Gay Masquerade: Queercrip Conversion”
  • 2018: Kathryn Vaggalis, University of Kansas, "Off-White Brides and Their Lonely Swains: Cross-cultural Histories of Immigrant Picture Brides and the Process of U.S. Race Making"
  • 2017: Danica B. Savonick, Graduate Center of the City University of New York, “Unlearning 'the Criminality of Education': Toni Cade Bambara and the Cultural Work of Decolonization”
  • 2016: Nic John Ramos, University of Southern California, "Making a Queer Home for the 'Aberrant': Deinstitutionalization, Skid Row and 'The Dragons'
  • 2015: Patrick McKelvey, Brown University, "Disemploying Prosthetics"
  • 2014: Stuart Schrader, New York University, "Rethinking the Militarization of Policing: Counterinsurgent Knowledge and California's Response to the Watts Rebellion"
  • 2013: Rabia Belt, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, "What Does Citizenship Mean for People with Mental Disabilities?"
  • 2012: Megan Black, George Washington University, "Guardians of 'Global' Resources: Visualizing Energy and Empire in U.S.Government-Sponsored Film, 1949-1956"
  • 2011: Carolyn Hardin, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, "Neoliberal Temporality: Time-Sense and the Shift from Pensions to 401(k)'s"
  • 2010: Jon Shelton, University of Maryland, College Park, "Against the Public: The Pittsburgh Teachers Strike of 1975-76 and the Decline of Liberalism"
  • 2009: Ziv Eisenberg, Yale University, "Red All Over: Protecting the American Body Politic from Infection in the Early Twentieth Century"
  • 2008: James Brown, University of Minnesota, "Interdisciplinary American Studies and the Cold War: A New, Archival History from the Records of the Library of Congress"
  • 2007: Erin Park Cohn, University of Pennsylvania, "Imprinting Race: The Philadelphia Fine Print Workshop of the WPA Federal Art Project and the Visual Politics of Race"
  • 2006: Carisa Worden, New York University,"Violence of the Body and Reform of the Soul: Prisons as the Emblem of America"
  • 2005 : Dean Itsuji Saranillio, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, "Kêwaikaliko's Benocide: Legal Lynchings, Colonialism, and Reversing the Imperial Gaze of Rice v. Cayetano and its Legal Progeny"
  • 2004: Ana Elizabeth Rosas, University of Southern California, "En Aquellos Tiempos": Mexican Women and Men and the Cultural Politics of Bracero Labor Camp Culture, 1954-56"
  • 2003: Lisa Soccio, University of Rochester, "Locust Abortion Technician Meets "Hamburger Lady": Shock as Symbolic Violence and Subcultural Signifier"
  • 2002: Jane Dusselier, University of Maryland, College Park, Identity, "Community, and Place: Art in Japanese American Concentration Camps"
  • 2001: Robin Bernstein, Yale University, "Talismans of the Middle Class: Nineteenth-Century Postmortem Daguerreotypes of Children"
  • 2000: John Streamas, Bowling Green State University, "Japanese American Concentration Camp Home Movies and a Loss of Public Life"
  • 1999: Adria L. Imada, New York University, "Hawaiians on Tour: Hula Circuits Through the American Empire"
  • 1998: Floyd Cheung, Tulane University, "Parading Masculinities: Euro-American and Chinese Imperialism and Gender in Territorial Arizona"
  • 1997: Michael A. Elliott, Columbia University, "Telling the Difference: Narratives of Racial Taxonomy in the Late Nineteenth Century United States"
  • 1996: Andrea Volpe, Rutgers University, "Bodily Attitudes: Posing Stands and the Respectable Body in Cartes de Visite Portrait Photographs"
  • 1995: Julie Berebitsky, Temple University, "Rescue a Child and Save the Nation: The Social Construction of Adoption in the Delineator, 1907-11"
  • 1994: Jennifer Delton, Princeton University, "Identity, Labor and Race: Black Politics in Minneapolis, 1945-50"
  • 1993: Mary W. Blanchard, Rutgers University, "The Aesthetic Parlor, the Object d'Art, and the Sedated Self"
  • 1992: Siobhan Somerville, Yale University, "Visible Differences: Scientific Racism and the Emergence of the Homosexual Body"
  • 1991: Mary W. Blanchard, Rutgers University, "The Intellectual Roots of an Aesthetic: Candace Wheeler and Her American Vision"
  • 1990: Csaba Toth, University of Minnesota, "Rivers of Contrast: Europe and the Utopias of Gronlund, Bellamy, and Donnelly"
  • 1989: Kirk Savage, University of California, Berkeley, "The Politics of Memory: Black Emancipation and the Civil War Monument"
  • 1988: Eric Lott, Columbia University, "Blackface and Blackness: The Politics of Early Minstrelsy"
  • 1987: Chris Rasmussen, Rutgers University, "Responding to Regionalism: The Iowa State Fair Art Salon"