Honors & Awards


The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work related to the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. To see some topics on which past American Studies majors have written honors theses, please see the section on Student Research.

Ethel L. Hersey Prize

The Hersey Prize is a monetary award given annually to the best essay written on an American topic. The prize considers exceptional essays written in any of the many contributory disciplines of American studies, with a preference for an interdisciplinary approach. Winning essays embody superlative research, analysis, argumentation, style as well as knowledge of U.S. History and Political Science, in their exploration and illumination of American topics.

Read the most recent essays to receive this award:

2023 Winner: Tatiana Ortiz "Analyzing the Transformation of Tejane Racial Identity Throughout Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Texas" written for HIST 312

2023 Honorable Mention: Caroline Francois "Defying Colonialism, Conquering Yellow Fever: The Partnership of American and Cuban Physicians in the War Against Yellow Fever, 1878-1901" written for HIST 376

2022 Winner: Meredith Youngblood "Gender in Flux: Queerness and its Implications in the California Gold Rush" written for HIST 311

2021 Winner: Dominique Mickiewicz "Captivated Collectors:Analyzing the Private Demand for World War II Artifacts in the United States and the Implications of Personal Ownership of Physical Pieces of War Memory" written for HIST 302

2020 Winner: Charlie Kasper "Clashing American Geographies: Investigating Colonial-Native American Diplomacy Through a Cartographic Powder Horn" written for ARTH 318

2020 Honorable Mention: Avery Lumeng "Public Sentiment About Medicare, Medicaid and State-Based Medicaid Systems on Twitter" written for POL1 317

2019 Winner: Esa Tilija "Indigenous Leaders' Nineteenth-Century Encounters with U.S. Women's Colleges: Non-Ministrari sed Ministrare" written for HIST 312

2019 Honorable Mention: Sianna Casey "Waving the American Flag in the Gym: CrossFit and American Nationalism" written for AMST 120

2018 Winner: Angela Coco "The Occupation of Alcatraz (1969): Occupation, Legislation, and Sensation" written for HIST 253

2018 Honorable Mention: Sianna Casey "Making a Pattern for the American Woman" written for HIST 220 and Irene Galarneau

2017 Honorable Mention: Sianna Casey "Strong is the New Sexy: CrossFit, Consumption, and Hegemonic Femininity" written for AMST 101
2016 Winner: Claudia Liss-Schultz "Most Kings: Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Tradition" written for AMST 315
2015 Honorable Mention: Anushree Dugar "The Santa Barbara Oil Spill: An Impetus for Change"
2015 Honorable Mentions: Carrington O'Brion "Faith, Let Me Not Play a Woman: The Wellesley College Shakespeare Society, 1877-1906​" and Rayna Rampalli "The New Faces of Assimilation"written for AMST 101
2014: Winner: Anna Diamond "God's Classroom: The Gablers' Textbook Crusade" written for EDUC 212
2013: Winner: Maya Thompson '13
2012: Winner: Kerry Knerr '12

2011: Winner: Anna Weick  "The 1978 “A Lesbian Show” Exhibition: The Politics of Queer Organizing around the Arts and the Fight for Visibility in American Cultural Memory" written for AMST 350

2010: Winner: Emily Zia  "Eminem: Minstrel, White Negro, or American Hero?" written for AMST 315