About the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize

The Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize is awarded annually to the best doctoral dissertation in American studies, ethnic studies, or women's studies. Recipients of the award receive $500. The prize winner is announced at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association.

The prize honors Ralph Henry Gabriel, an American intellectual historian who published on a wide assortment of topics including urban history, literary criticism, and the history of consciousness. Some of his works include Course of American Democratic Thought and American Values, Continuity, and Change. Gabriel served as the general editor of The Pageant of America book series as well as the editor of the Library of Congress Series in American Civilization. In addition to his long tenure in the history department at Yale University, Gabriel taught at New York University, Stanford University, Cambridge University, and many others.

Eligibility Requirements and Application Procedures

Who is eligible: Current ASA members who completed or will complete their dissertations between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024 and are receiving a PhD degree in American studies, American ethnic studies, or American women's studies.

Who can nominate: The director or chair of any graduate program in American studies, American ethnic studies, or American women's studies should consult with program faculty and select up to two (2) dissertations completed during the period of eligibility. Directors or chairs need not be active members. Individuals may not nominate their own dissertations.

How to submit a nomination: 

Step 1: Assemble the materials required for consideration. These include: (1) the dissertation abstract, (2) a sample chapter, and (3) a cover letter explaining why the dissertation deserves the award. The cover letter may be written by the dissertation advisor or another faculty member familiar with the project, but a note confirming the nomination's approval by the program chair must also be included. 

Step 2: Fill out the Microsoft Form and submit the nomination. The director or chair must complete one nomination form for each nominee at this linked Microsoft Form. Please upload the required materials as a single PDF with the nominee's name to this Dropbox link. The online form and materials must be submitted by or before 11:59PM June 1.

Questions? Please e-mail asastaff@theasa.net

When is the deadline: June 1

How does the nomination proceed for review: The prize committee, based on their reading of the materials submitted, will invite a short list of up to seven (7) nominees to submit their completed dissertations for formal review.

Please note that the Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize does not include publication with any individual press or publishing house.

Past Winners 1987-2023

  • 2023: Bobby Cervantes, University of Kansas, "Las Colonias: The Housing of Poverty in Modern Americas"
  • 2022: Mallory Whiteduck, University of Michigan, "The Rez: Aesthetics of the Everyday in Native American Literature and Visual Culture"
  • 2021: Molly Benitez, University of Maryland, College Park, "Becoming Your Labor: Identity, Production and the Affects of Labor"
  • 2020: Camille Owens, Yale University, "Blackness and the Human Child: Race, Prodigy, and the Logic of American Childhood"
  • 2019: Aaron Eddens, University of Minnesota, “ʻClimate-Smart’ Seeds: Race, Science, and Security in the Global Green Revolution"
  • 2018: Salvador Zárate, University of California, San Diego, “The Social Life of Plants: Black and Latina Reproductive Laborers in the U.S. Sunbelt, 1921-1963”
  • 2017: Lisa Young, Purdue College of Liberal Arts, “Lethal Housing: Reading Restrictive Covenants and Urban Black Women’s Grassroots Health Activism, 1930-1980”
  • 2016: Cathleen Kiyomi Kozen, University of California, San Diego, "Justice and Its Others: On the Politics of Redress for Japanese Latin Americans"
  • 2015: Erin Durban-Albrecht, University of Arizona, "Postcolonial Homophobia: United States Imperialism in Haiti and the Transnational Circulation of Anti-Gay Sexual Politics"
  • 2014: Juliana Hu Pegues, University of Minnesota, "Interrogating Intimacies: Asian American and Native Relations in Colonial Alaska"
  • 2013: Maile Arvin, University of California, San Diego, "Pacifically Possessed: Scientific Production and Native Hawaiian Critique of the 'Almost White' Polynesian Race"
  • 2012: Ana Raquel Minian, Yale University, "Undocumented Lives: A History of Mexico-US Migration from 1965-1986"
  • 2011: Robert Hawkins, Saint Louis University, "Natural Born Ease Man? Work, Masculinity, and the Itinerant Black Musician"
  • 2010: Wendy Cheng, University of Southern California, "Episodes in the Life of a Place: Regional Racial Formation in Los Angeles's San Gabriel Valley"
  • 2009: Stephanie Schulte, George Washington University, "State Technology to State of Being: The Making of the Internet in Global Popular Culture, 1980-2000"
  • 2008: Caroline Frank, Brown University, "China as Object and Imaginary in the Making of an American Nation, 1690-1790"
  • 2007: Daniel Wei HoSang, University of Southern California, "Racial Propositions: Genteel Apartheid in Postwar California"
  • 2006: Laura Isabel Serna, Harvard University, " 'We're Going Yankee': American Movies, Mexican Nationalism, Transnational Cinema, 1917-1935"
  • 2005: Alyosha Goldstein, New York University, "Civic Poverty: An Empire for Liberty through Community Action"
  • 2004: Brian Klopotek, University of Minnesota, "The Long Out-waiting: Federal Recognition Policy in Three Louisiana Indian Communities"
  • 2003: Adria L. Imada, New York University, "Aloha America: Hawaiian Entertainment and Cultural Politics in the U.S. Empire"
  • 2002: Katherine Masur, University of Michigan, "Reconstructing the Nation's Capital: The Politics of Race and Citizenship in the District of Columbia, 1862-1878"
  • 2001: Shirley Thompson, Harvard University, "The Passing of a People: Creoles of Color in Mid-Nineteenth Century New Orleans"
  • 2000: Jurretta Jordan Heckscher, George Washington University, "'All the Mazes of Dance': Black Dancing, Culture, and Identity in the Greater Chesapeake World from the Early Eighteenth Century to the Civil War"
  • 2000: Meredith Raimondo, Emory University, "The Next Wave: Media Maps of the 'Spread of AIDS'"
  • 1999: John Stauffer, Yale University, "The Black Hearts of Men: Race, Religion, and Radical Reform in Nineteenth-Century America"
  • 1998: Steven Michael Waksman, University of Minnesota, "Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience"
  • 1997: Margaret T. McFadden, Yale University, "Anything Goes: Gender and Knowledge in the Comic Popular Culture of the 1930's"
  • 1996: Rachel Buff, University of Minnesota, "Calling Home: Migration, Race and Popular Memory in Caribbean Brooklyn and Native American Minneapolis, 1945-1992"
  • 1996: Melani McAlister, Brown University, "Staging the American Century: Race, Gender, and Nation in U.S. Representations of the Middle East, 1945-1992"
  • 1995: Jill Lepore, Yale University, "The Name of War: Waging, Writing, and Remembering King Philip's War"
  • 1994: Alicia Gaspar de Alba, University of New Mexico, "Mi Casa [No] Es Su Casa: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-1985 Exhibition"
  • 1993: Christophe Den Tandt, Yale University, "The Urban Sublime in American Literary Nationalism"
  • 1992: Matthew Jacobson, Brown University, "Special Sorrows: Irish-, Polish-, and Yiddish-American Nationalism in the Diasporic Imagination"
  • 1991: Kent Ryden, Brown University, "Mapping the Invisible Landscape: Geography, Narrative, and the Sense of Place"
  • 1990: Marianne Doezema, Boston University, "George Bellows and Urban America, 1905-1913"
  • 1989: Janice Knight, Harvard University, "A Garden Enclosed: The Rhetoric of the Heart in Puritan New England"
  • 1988: Benedict Giamo, Emory University, "On the Bowery: Symbolic Action in American Culture and Subculture"
  • 1998: Mary Corbin Sies, University of Michigan, "American Country House Architecture in Context: The Suburban Ideal of Living in the East and Midwest, 1877-1917"
  • 1987: Christian Appy, Harvard University, "A War for Nothing: A Social History of American Soldiers in Vietnam"
  • 1987:Paula Rabinowitz, University of Michigan, "Female Subjectivity in Women's Revolutionary Novels of the 1930's"