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.

Download PDF David John Ruggiero Award Guidelines - 2019

 

WINNER OF THE DAVID JOHN RUGGIERO DISSERTATION AWARD

 

Spencer Tricker (English)

Spencer Tricker’s Imminent Communities: Transpacific Literary Form and Racialization, 1847-1920 offers a compelling new understanding of the role of the Pacific in the development of U.S. imperialism in the long nineteenth century. Weaving together evidence from literature, political history, and popular periodicals, Tricker shows how conceptions of U.S. Pacific ascendancy depended on a discourse of what he calls “Pacific imminence,” a way of thinking of transpacific power driven by a conception of future time. Global prosperity and cosmopolitan transoceanic communities, according to this framework, were envisioned as always about to emerge. Revealing the Pacific’s central role in the project of American empire-building in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this original conception of “Pacific imminence” makes visible how the transpacific paradigm transformed the ways of thinking about frontiers earlier elaborated by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Through close analysis of the period’s literature and politics, “Imminent Communities” ultimately shows how both American and East Asian writers were able to use the resources of fiction to resist this discourse and to conjure alternate forms of cosmopolitanism and community.


 HONORABLE MENTION

 

Jennifer Garcon (English)

Jennifer Garcon’s dissertation, Haiti’s Resistant Press in the Age of Jean-Claude Duvalier, 1971-1986, is an original account of the collapse of the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and his regime in 1986. Arguing against the prevailing narrative that Duvalier’s demise was a sudden development, Garcon shows how political dissidence took root more than a decade earlier, in 1971, with the opening of limited press freedoms in both print and radio productions. Through a painstaking analysis of previously unexamined primary source materials, including newspapers, weekly journals, and Creole-language radio broadcasts, Garcon demonstrates how alternate media forms sowed the seeds of incremental political change in Haiti during the 1970s and 1980s. Garcon’s study constructs a sophisticated media history, one that casts light on the complex relationship that existed between Duvalier’s authoritarianism, Haiti’s public culture, and the dynamic free press of the period. More than a historical account of Duvalier’s regime, Garcon’s dissertation presents a timely assessment of the role that free press media makers, producers, and audiences play in provoking political change in totalitarian regimes.

 

Hadassah St. Hubert (History)

Hadassah St. Hubert’s dissertation, Visions of a Modern Nation: Haiti at the World’s Fairs, is a lucidly argued account of the nation’s systematic efforts to shape its image at international platforms between 1881 and 1967. St. Hubert traces the origin of Haiti’s dependence on tourism and foreign investment to the decades after the nation’s independence in 1804 and argues that Haiti’s participation in World Fairs was instrumental in constructing an international image that would support the nation’s post-colonial growth and progress. Through nuanced discussions, St. Hubert depicts international expositions as sites of imperial and neocolonial display and exploitation, and observes how Haiti’s successive governments challenged this practice, staging a modern and enlightened nation that would attract international investors and tourists. St. Hubert’s meticulously chronicled work thus reveals in detail Haiti’s strategies to negotiate neocolonial relationships at World Fairs and, by drawing on a rich archive of primary sources, St. Hubert expertly balances historical evidence with an original account of Haiti’s changing national identity.