Katzman-Yetman Graduate Paper Prize

David Katzman and Norman Yetman

David Katzman (left) and Norman Yetman (right)

The Katzman-Yetman Graduate Paper Prize, a $250 cash prize, is given each April for the best paper presented by a graduate student at the MAASA annual conference. The paper, revised for publication, is automatically considered for publication in a forthcoming issue of American Studies. The prize is named after David Katzman and Norman Yetman, longtime professors in the Department of American Studies at the University of Kansas and editors of the journal American Studies.

2012 Recipient

Elyse Vigiletti

Elyse Vigiletti

The 2012 Katzman-Yetman Prize went to Elyse Vigiletti (University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign) for “Class, Sexuality, and Authorship in Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt.”

2011 Recipient

The Mid America American Studies Association has awarded the 2011 Katzman-Yetman Graduate Paper Prize to Derek Attig for his paper “‘Hemingway Amidst Cheese and Crackers’: Booketerias, Public Culture, and Consumer Capitalism.” Derek is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His paper explores the post-World War II rise of “booketerias,” self service branch libraries that were placed inside supermarkets. As evidenced by the booketeria, Attig underscores the how the institutions of American mass consumption transformed libraries in the postwar era. Beyond the booketeria, Attig underscores how librarians were often taking their cues from consumption culture to recast the library itself as an institution of American mass consumption. Even the main library branches of the postwar era, Attig points out, were often architecturally designed to look more like supermarkets as part of ongoing effort to make information more easily accessible. Library services, Attig argues, were increasingly evaluated in terms of their hard economic or market value. This intersection between libraries and mass consumption culture thereby led to an unexpected devaluing of the role of the library in American public and civic culture, an asset that cannot be easily assessed through economic measures. Filled with stimulating ideas and engaging theoretical insights, “Hemingway Amidst Cheese and Crackers” highlights the fascinating connections between the public library and American mass consumption practices, both of which remain enduring parts of the American societal landscape. In the process, Attig helps contextualize contemporary fights about library funding that are prevalent in these challenging economic times.

2010 Recipient

Rachel Vaughn, PhD candidate in the American Studies Department at the University of Kansas, is the winner of the 2010 Katzman-Yetman Graduate Paper Prize for “Diving for Food, Listening for Resources: Oral Histories of Food In/Security in an Age of Surplus Production.”

Ms. Vaughn presented her winning paper at MAASA’s 2010 conference “Studying ‘America?’ Critical Conjunctures for the 21st Century,” held March 25–27 in Lawrence, Kansas. Her paper explores the terms resource/ful/lessness via an analysis of oral history interviews conducted with dumpster divers in a U.S. context and is part of her larger dissertation project entitled “Talking Trash: Oral Histories of Food In/Security from the Margins of a Dumpster.”

The prize committee was unanimous in naming it the best graduate paper, calling it “ambitious” and “thought-provoking” and deeming it exemplary of the interdisciplinary and critical streams running through the American Studies tradition.

2009 Recipient

The Mid-America American Studies Association (MAASA) is pleased to announce that Bess Williamson, PhD candidate in American History at the University of Delaware, is the winner of the 2009 Katzman-Yetman Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper for “Technology and Disability Identity: The Toomey J. Gazette, 1958–1969.” Ms. Williamson presented her winning paper on the Toomey J. Gazette at the 2009 “Identities and Technoculture” Conference, co-sponsored by MAASA and the University of Iowa’s Center for Ethnic Studies, held April 3–4 in Iowa City.

The Cleveland-based Toomey J. Gazette began as a newsletter affiliated with a polio rehabilitation center and expanded into a community newspaper “by, for, and about” readers who suffered severe physical disabilities after surviving acute cases of polio. Ms. Williamson’s paper explores how technical information-sharing through the Gazette helped build community identity among people with disabilities in postwar America.

The awards committee was impressed with how Ms. Williamson’s paper engaged with important and intersecting issues in the fields of technology studies, medical history, and identity studies. In the process, Ms. Williamson made a convincing case for the larger historical significance of her particular case study. Ms. Williamson’s winning paper is part of her larger dissertation project, entitled “The Right to Design: Disability and Access in the United States, 1945–1990.” This spring, Bess Williamson is a Baird Society Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

In the strong 2009 competition, two other entrants earned honorable mention. The awards committee recognized Alexander Bonus of Case Western Reserve University for his entry, “Johann Maelzel, the Metronome, and Mechanized Music in Nineteenth-Century America,” and Emily Laurel Smith of the University of Minnesota for her entry, “Classifying the Needy: Disability and the TV Techno-Makeover.”