Early Modern Worlds Graduate Student Prize

General Information 

Every other year, Pitt’s Early Modern Worlds Initiative invites submissions for its biennial Graduate Student Essay Prize competition. A book grant of $200 will be awarded to the best MA thesis or seminar paper written during the previous two academic years by a student currently enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh. The committee (consisting of four scholars from at least three different departments) will consider papers on any topic focusing on the early modern period anywhere in the world. Entries should be submitted as final versions of the paper, with complete citations and bibliographic information. At its discretion, the prize committee can award an honorable mention which will come with a book grant of $100. The next deadline for submissions is May 5, 2023. Submissions should be emailed to per20@pitt.edu.

Past Winners


The 2021 Graduate Student Prize was awarded to Claire Ptaschinski, Department of History of Art and Architecture, for her MA thesis on “The Ecology of Chapel Design in Baroque Rome”. In this work, Ptaschinski builds on the language of ecocritical art history and new materialism to offer a fresh analysis of the Chapel of the blessed Sacrament in St. Peter's basilica, the Chapel of Saint Ignatius in Il Gesù, and the high altar of Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli. The prize committee was deeply impressed by the quality and originality of Ptaschinski’s thesis, the clarity of the argument, and its potential to transform our understanding of baroque art.


The 2019 Graduate Student Prize was awarded to Charles Goldhaber, Department of Philosophy, for his paper on “The Humors in Hume’s Skepticism”. The prize committee found Goldhaber’s paper on how seemingly “anachronistic” theories of humors shaped Hume’s thinking on skepticism persuasive and mature. It was impressed by the paper’s crystal clear argumentation, clever thesis, and analytic rigor. 

The committee awarded an honorable mention to Caitlin Dahl, Department of French and Italian, for her paper, “‘Une certaine mollesse…où nous retombons toujours’; la notion de ‘trans’ et l’expérience pré-transgendre chez les personnages secondaires dans l’Histoire de la Marquise-Marquis de Banneville”. The committee found Dahl’s ability to bring Anglophone gender studies into the French tradition through a nuanced study of secondary characters in l’Histoire to be sophisticated and elegant.

For more information, please email Pernille Røge (per20@pitt.edu).