2013-2014 Winners

This annual award, which carries a $500 prize, has been established with the generous support of Guido Ruggiero, Professor of History, in memory of his brother, David John Ruggiero.


Stephen Lazer (History)

Stephen LazerStephen Lazer’s The State with Two Centers: The French Monarchy and the Dukes of Pfalz-Zweibrücken in Early Modern Alsace, 1648-1789, is a skillfully argued dissertation that examines early modern state-building in the politically and religiously mixed region of Alsace, where French and German political systems and cultures had to share power as a result of the peace of Westphalia (1648). Lazer engages recent historiography that emphasizes the agency of the ruled in early modern Europe, without whose active consent no governance would have been possible. The author ably demonstrates how the French monarch and German dukes upheld the rights of the local communities, rights rooted in custom and precedent. Working with an impressive range of archival documentation, Lazer focuses on the salient role local officials played in Alsace— the most important contribution of the dissertation to early modern scholarship. Examining in detail their face-to-face agency in the process of state-building not from above or from below, but what he calls “through the middle,” Lazer presents these officials as the great, multi-lingual, day-to day mediators between the king, the dukes, and the population. He thereby demonstrates the considerable limits placed on the so-called absolute monarchy and how power and authority had to be clearly perceived as equitably distributed throughout all levels of society in order to earn legitimacy.


Marta Fernández-Campa (English)

Marta Fernández-CampaMarta Fernández-Campa’s dissertation, Fragmented Memories: The Archival Turn in Contemporary Caribbean Literature and Visual Culture, adroitly examines the myriad ways in which contemporary creative artists challenge dominant historical narratives, by constructing counter-archives and recovering silenced narratives, of both the region and its diasporas. While this historical engagement has been an ongoing concern in the historiography of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Campa underscores an emphatic “archival turn” across multiple creative disciplines within the past two decades. The dissertation’s strength lies in its interdisciplinary conceptualization and its geographical reach, as Campa brings together novels, poetry, and the visual arts to address challenging and contested cultural political histories of Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Francophone territories. Campa further imbues the metaphor of fragmentation with a musical sensibility to highlight the relational and uneven incorporations of “African, classical, and baroque music through the musical structures of call-and-response, counterpoint and the fugue.” Such a “contrapuntal aesthetics,” Campa argues, contests “the epistemic violence of the colonial archive.” Throughout, the dissertation achieves a sophistication in prose, argumentation, and critical voice.