Elizabeth Kolmer Award

Elizabeth Kolmer

Elizabeth Kolmer

The Elizabeth Kolmer Award is given annually to honor teaching and mentoring in the field of American Studies and service to MAASA. The $250 cash prize is named in honor of former MAASA President Sr. Elizabeth Kolmer, professor emerita in History and American Studies at St. Louis University and the first recipient of the award.

2013 Recipient

Lary May

Lary May

Dr. Lary May, Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies at the University of Minnesota, is the recipient of the MAASA (Mid-America American Studies Association) 2013 Kolmer Award. The MAASA Board selected him as recipient of this award based on his over 30 years of teaching, advising, and mentoring students at the University of Minnesota, as well as his service to the American Studies community, specifically in the Mid-America region. We recognize his contributions to the classroom as evidenced in his Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, 2001–2002 and the popularity of his courses at Minnesota. He has offered a range of courses that address film and popular culture, postwar popular culture and politics, post-WWII American history, and twentieth century political and cultural history. In addition, he has mentored many graduate students who are now professors teaching in American Studies and related fields. His international work includes participating in the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar in 1994 (America in Our Time) and in 1995 (The Globalization of American Popular Culture). As a researcher, scholar, and teacher, he brought to the fore the need for humanists to consider cinema, visual culture, and the moving image as important aspects of American culture that are informed by our politics and zeitgeist.

2012 Recipient

Matt Mancini

Michael McCollum, left, Melissa Ford, Matt Mancini, and Adam Kloppe

Dr. Matt Mancini, chair of the American Studies Department at St. Louis University, was honored with the $250 Elizabeth Kolmer Award for mentoring and service at the 2012 conference in Tulsa. Matt served as the MAASA President in 2002–2003, was the program chair for MAASA conferences in 2002 and 2006, and has helped to produce the MAASA newsletter. Colleagues hailed him for his commitment to American Studies as a discipline and his effort in building both SLU’s program and a community of American Studies scholars. Nominations emphasized his deep intellectual engagement with graduate students, which resulted most recently in the awarding of a Gabriel prize to SLU Ph.D. Rob Hawkins. Nominating letters noted that his work duly honors Elizabeth Kolmer’s legacy, and that many of his former students are “trying to carry Dr. Mancini’s legacy forward by mentoring our own graduate students with the same care that we were mentored.”

2011 Recipient

Marguerite Shaffer

Marguerite Shaffer

Dr. Marguerite Shaffer of the American Studies Department at Miami University of Ohio was selected as the winner of the $250 Elizabeth Kolmer Award for mentoring and service. Peggy has been the director of the program for a decade, during which she reinvented the program and created an “Acting Locally” think tank for students that encouraged them to turn their intellectual engagements into real social change. Her commitment to fostering public culture is evident in both her undergraduate courses and her research, for which she’s lauded as a “model of the engaged scholar-teacher.”

2010 Recipient

John Raeburn

John Raeburn

John Raeburn (PhD, American Civilization, Penn), professor of American Studies and English at the University of Iowa, where he has taught American 20th-century cultural history, American photography, American film, American literature after 1865, and the history of the book since 1974, was the recipient of the 2010 Elizabeth Kolmer award for graduate mentoring. Professor Raeburn’s students thank him for teaching them to become stronger writers, leading job search information sessions, writing recommendation letters “famous for their thoroughness and persuasiveness,” and providing generous professional and emotional support during and after graduate school. “Perhaps most of all,” one student wrote, John “has provided me with a model for a balanced, responsible, and caring teacher and academic professional… [who] knew that the academic world was not the center of the universe, and that other personal needs sometimes trumped professional success.”

Past Recipients


Ann Schofield

Ann Schofield, University of Kansas


Jim Farrell

Jim Farrell, St. Olaf College


David Katzman

David Katzman, University of Kansas


Rich Horwitz

Rich Horwitz, University of Iowa


Edward Griffin

Edward Griffin, University of Minnesota


Norman Yetman

Norman Yetman, University of Kansas


Elizabeth Kolmer

Elizabeth Kolmer, Saint Louis University