Elizabeth Kolmer Award – Request for Nominations by March 1, 2018

Members, former members, and friends of the Mid-America American Studies Association (MAASA) are invited to nominate individuals for MAASA’s annual Elizabeth Kolmer Award. The Kolmer Award honors teaching and mentoring in the field of American Studies as well as service to MAASA. The 2017 recipient will be honored at the MAASA conference held at University of Iowa on April 6–7, 2018. The 2018 recipient will be honored at the ASA conference in Atlanta on November 8–11, 2018.

Those eligible for the award include current members of MAASA (those who have joined the organization or are members by virtue of their membership in the ASA and affiliation with an institution in MAASA’s eleven-state region) and those who, while not currently residing in the region, have been active in American Studies at an institution in the region or have contributed service to MAASA in the past. Current executive-board members are ineligible.

The $250 prize is named in honor of former MAASA president Sister Elizabeth Kolmer, Ph.D., a model teacher and scholar and the first recipient of the award.

Nomination letters (no more than 2 pages) should address the following:

  • relationship to the letter-writer (student, colleague, teacher, etc.)
  • teaching or mentoring style
  • leadership in the institution/organization/field
  • personal influence on the nominating individual or group
  • service to MAASA and/or to the field in MAASA’s geographical region
  • We also invite you to relate at least one incident/example that illustrates this person’s qualities as a mentor, teacher, or contributor to the American Studies community.

Letters should be sent via email attachment to MAASA’s Kolmer Award Committee at awards@maasa.net by March 1, 2018. Please put “Kolmer Award nomination” in the subject heading.

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.

2018 Recipient

Kevin P. Murphy, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, is the recipient of the Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2018 Kolmer Award.

Dr. Murphy is Director of the new Heritage Studies and Public History graduate program and Affiliate Professor of American Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. He served as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of American Studies in 2008 and from 2009 to 2012 and Chair of American Studies from 2012 to 2015. He is author of Political Manhood: Red Bloods, Mollycoddles, and the Politics of Progressive Era Reform (Columbia University Press, 2008) and co-editor of Sexuality and the Cities: Interdisciplinarity and the Politics of Queer Public History (Oxford University Press, 2017), Historicizing Gender and Sexuality (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), and Queer Twin Cities (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). In 2013 he received the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education from the University of Minnesota. The Kolmer Award Committee selected Dr. Murphy based on his impressive record of research, teaching, mentoring, and service to the field of American Studies. As one former advisee noted, “He is caring, empathetic, and a staunch ally. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time for others. He is selfless and much of his work goes unnoticed. But it is the small gestures that make a big imprint.”

2017 Recipient

Laura Belmonte, Professor of History at Oklahoma State University, is the recipient of the Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2017 Kolmer Award.

Dr. Belmonte has been serving as the Head of the Department of History since 2014, and from 2007 to 2012 she served as the Director of the American Studies Program on the Stillwater and Tulsa campuses. She also served as an At-Large Representative (2008–12) and Treasurer (2011–12) on the MAASA Executive Board. In addition, she hosted the MAASA Conference in Tulsa in 2012. She is author of Selling the American Way: U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) and editor of Speaking of America: Readings in U.S. History (Cenage, 2nd edition, 2006). The Kolmer Award Committee selected Dr. Belmonte based on her years of service to MAASA as well as her invaluable contribution to the field American Studies regionally and nationally as a scholar and mentor. As one mentee noted, “Her efforts to encourage the work of junior American Studies scholars throughout the region” makes her “more than deserving” of this award.

2016 Recipient

Jennifer Hamer, Professor of American Studies and African and African-American Studies at the University of Kansas, is the recipient of the Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2016 Kolmer Award.

Jennifer Hamer is the chair of the American Studies department at University of Kansas. She holds appointments in both American Studies and African and African American Studies. She was also program chair of this year’s MAASA conference. Her scholarly publications often address the region in relation to issues with broad implications for the nation, such as Abandoned in the Heartland: Work, Family, and Living in East St. Louis. She is the editor and founder of the peer-reviewed journal Women, Gender, and Families of Color. Her nomination was based on her contributions as “an inspirational scholar, a strong leader in her field, an advocate for social justice, a dedicator educator, a treasured colleague and advisor” and “especially for her dedicated service to students;” one of whom wrote, “Under her leadership, Dr. Hamer has been a vocal advocate for all students, especially students of color, and a leader for social justice on campus and beyond. She has joined and led students and faculty in their demands for a safe campus, speaking out against guns on campus, racism, and sexual violence.”

2015 Recipient

Lauren Rabinovitz, Professor of American Studies and Cinema at the University of Iowa, is the recipient of the Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2015 Kolmer Award.

Laren Rabinovitz chaired the American Studies Department at the University of Iowa from 2000 to 2008. She served on the executive board of Mid-America American Studies Association from 2002-2008, and has held the offices of Vice President and President of MAASA. She has authored several books and articles on American culture, movies, amusement parks, and foodways, including Electric Dreamland: Amusement Parks, Movies, and American Modernity. She is also an award winning teacher and advisor who has directed at least 19 dissertations. Her nomination came from some of these advisees, one of whom described her as a “rigorous, often exacting, and always generous advisor who has been a creative administrator, sustaining and growing American Studies at the University of Iowa and in the region.”

2014 Recipient

Sherrie Tucker

Sherrie Tucker

Dr. Sherrie Tucker, Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas, is the recipient of the Mid-America American Studies Association’s 2014 Kolmer Award. The MAASA Board selected her as recipient of this award based on her excellence in teaching and mentoring at the University of Kansas as well as her service to the American Studies community, particularly in the Mid-America Region.

2013 Recipient

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

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

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 (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 of the Elizabeth Kolmer Award