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Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, 2012 Print E-mail

The 2012 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prizes were awarded to Adam Rosenbaum (Colorado Mesa University) and Sarah Thomsen Vierra (New England College). The award ceremony took place at the 21st Annual Symposium of the Friends of the German Historical Institute on November 9, 2012. The selection committee was composed of: Ann Goldberg (University of California, Riverside), Maria D. Mitchell (Franklin & Marshall College), and Ulrike Strasser (University of California, Irvine).

  • Adam T. Rosenbaum, "Timeless, Modern, and German? The Re-Mapping of Bavaria through the Marketing of Tourism, 1800-1939" (Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 2011)

    Prize citation: "Timeless, Modern" is at once an expert case study of the Bavarian tourism industry and a highly accomplished exploration of the larger question of German modernity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Using an array of contemporary sources -- tourist guidebooks, brochures, maps, and postcards, as well as the records of tourism associations, contemporary newspapers, and travel reports --, this rich dissertation probes the language and imagery of the Bavarian tourism industry and the making of tourist sites, from the 19th-century spa to the cities of Augsburg and Nuremberg under the Third Reich. Rosenbaum argues persuasively that the tourist industry marketed images of Bavaria and Germany that merged both tradition and progress; the escape from and embrace of modernity; Romantic celebrations of nature and the premodern past, on the one hand, and technology, city planning, and mass culture, on the other. Rosenbaum introduces the term "grounded modernity" to characterize this synthesis of old and new. Written with elegance and clarity, his dissertation demonstrates the shifting contours of "grounded modernity" over three regimes, weaving together with sophistication the strands of both continuity and change in German culture and society. The notion of "grounded modernity" offers as well an important contribution to understandings of German modernity, one that transcends and complicates older historiographical binaries of modernity versus antimodernism. Likewise, Rosenbaum's innovative work casts new light on the history of German nationalism, showing the ways in which cosmopolitanism, nation, and regionalism coexisted and were transformed over time.

  • Sarah Thomsen Vierra, "At Home in Almanya? Turkish-German Spaces of Belonging in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1961-1990" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011)

    Prize citation: This beautifully written and thoughtfully conceptualized dissertation explores the place of Turkish immigrants and their children in West German history. Deploying a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches, Vierra weaves together transnational, national, and local histories of Turkish-Germans since the arrival of the first West German Gastarbeiter to create a rich tapestry of the experiences of Turkish-Germans and their host society. The author's conceptual focus rests on "spaces of belonging" -- from the workplace to the classroom, neighborhood, school, and mosque. This spatial approach allows Vierra to highlight the contradictions and ambiguities of the everyday lived experiences of marginalized communities, while her reliance on a rich array of archival and oral sources in German and Turkish enables her to recount how those spaces were constructed and contested in West Germany over time. Turkish-Germans have charted paths far more complex than many contemporary models of West German immigrant integration and assimilation suggest. In its compelling portrayal of a community defined by its diversity, this innovative work challenges commonplace notions of Turkish-German identity while informing us about majority-minority relations, national identities, and immigrant communities in contemporary Germany and Europe more broadly.