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Winner of the Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History in 2020

The prize committee is proud to announce this year’s winner:


PETER B. THOMPSON  (University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, Department of History)

for his article draft

The Pale Death: Poison Gas and German Racial Exceptionalism, 1915-1945,

which emerged from his recently completed dissertation entitled

Grasping for the Mask: German Visions of Chemical Modernity, 1915-1938

The committee was very impressed with the skillful and innovative ways in which Thompson’s contribution and larger dissertation links and weaves together histories and philosophies of technology, culture, war, race and racism to present an intriguing argument about the construction of an ethno-German nation in a set of racialized discourses that have not yet received sufficient scholarly attention. Going far beyond any previous work on gas warfare and masks and combining the Imperial, Weimar and Nazi periods, it convincingly makes the case that Germans set themselves apart for their alleged ability to resist gas exposure and live in a chemically altered world, a “chemical modernity,” on the basis of their imagined racial distinctions. All the while, the piece offers a sound conceptual and theoretical framework and a fascinating array of sources from the scientific writings of the “gas specialists” to artefacts of popular culture. The contribution is in firm and remarkable command of a broad literature, well written, and meticulously and thoughtfully analyzed. In so doing, the work combines many of the best characteristics and strengths that German history and studies have to offer.


He will present his work in the NCGS Seminar on January 22, 2021

We appreciate the large number of excellent submission and encourage graduate student who will not have defend their before March 2021 to apply again. For the new Call for Proposals see below.



Call for Proposals:

The Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History 2021


Deadline:  May 31, 2021


The North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series is proud to announce the third  annual Konrad Jarausch Essay Prize  Competition for Advanced Graduate Students. In recognition of the longstanding commitment to graduate education of Konrad H. Jarausch, who is the Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the History Department of the University of North Carolina, this prize serves to celebrate and cultivate outstanding new talent in the field of Central European history.

The prize will award the best article or chapter-length piece of writing by a current graduate student working in the field of Central European history. The recipient of this prize will receive an honorarium of $500 and an invitation to present their dissertation with a lecture at the first North Carolina German Studies Seminar (NCGS) in September 2021, which will be held on a Friday afternoon at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In addition, the will be invited to a writing workshop for graduate student in history on the same day, in which the submitted chapter will be discussed by accomplished scholars, who will make suggestions on how to revise and  prepare it for submission to a first-rate academic journal. Both events will provide an opportunity for the winner to receive feedback from an interdisciplinary group of experts. Prizewinners will be encouraged but not required to submit their revised essay for publication. We will cover the costs for travel (economy class flight), hotel accommodation and dinner after the lecture.

The NCGS series was started in 2007 by an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional group of scholars in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, which is home to nationally and internationally recognized graduate programs in German Studies. The series has traditionally emphasized graduate education. This prize, which will be awarded annually, is meant to both honor and further that legacy.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a PhD program at a North American university.
  • They must not have defended dissertation before March 2021.
  • They must plan to be plan to be resident in North America in the fall 2021,

Requirements for the proposal:

  • An up to five-page statement describing the outlines of your dissertation project, its state of completion, and what you hope to gain by presenting at the seminar.
  • A copy of the CV with a clear indication when you intend to defend your dissertation.
  • A writing sample, ideally a chapter from the dissertation, of between 8,000 and 10,000 words (not including notes) that you want to turn into an article.

If you are interested, please send the following application materials to Dr. James Chappel (, Dr. Karen Hagemann ( and Dr. Thomas Pegelow Kaplan ( by 31 May 2021. The Decision will be announced in early June. Any questions about the process or the opportunity can be addressed to James Chappel (  



The Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History 2019



STEFANIE M. WOODARD(Kennesaw State University, Department of History & Philosophy)


Presentation on Thursday, 12 September 2019

In UNC Global Education Center 4003  I  5:30 – 7:00 PM


“Feeling German”: Migration and Ethnic Identity in a Cold War Borderland

Between 1970 and 1990, approximately 835,000 ethnic German Aussiedler migrated from Poland to West Germany. Most of these “resettlers” hailed from Upper Silesia, a borderland in western Poland. Although scholars have frequently described Silesians as nationally indifferent or ethnically ambiguous, the Cold War thrust them into the center of a clash over ethnicity and memory. Whereas the Polish government downplayed or denied the Silesians’ German heritage, West German authorities cast these borderlanders as “sufferers for Germanness” and the last victims of World War II. Not simply the passive subjects of Cold War discourse, Silesians also catapulted themselves into the ethnicity debate. The resettlers’ borderland context enabled them to invoke their German ethnicity to receive privileged-immigrant status in West Germany or, later, to lobby for cultural rights in Poland. This talk, thus, highlights how an ethnically-coded conflict over victimhood and memory shaped not only the lives of individual émigrés from Silesia, but also West German-Polish relations as a whole.


STEFANIE M. WOODARD is a Limited Term Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University. She received her PhD in May 2019 from Emory University.

Moderator: JAMES CHAPPEL  I  Duke University, Department of History



On Friday, 13 September 2019  I  UNC Hamilton Hall  569 I  9:00-11:00 AM
(Breakfast will be served)

Writing Workshop for History Graduate Students: How to Prepare a Manuscript for the Publication in a Journal like Central European History?

Publishing an article can be a daunting task. This workshop, led by accomplished scholars, will offer insights into the process, make suggestions for revisions, and prepare graduate students for submitting a first-rate paper to academic journals. The discussion will focus on a pre-circulated draft titles “Feeling German”: Migration and Ethnic Identity in a Cold War Borderland” by this year’s winner of the Konrad Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History, STEFANIE M. WOODARD (Visiting Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University, Department of History & Philosophy).


    • KONRAD H. JARAUSCH  I  Lurcy Professor of European Civilization, UNC–Chapel Hill, Department of History
    • CHAD BRYANT  I  Associate Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History


    • KAREN HAGEMANN  I  James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

The workshop is open to all graduate students from the region, but space is limited