Heidelberg Center for American StudiesRolf Kentner Dissertation Prize: Award for Work on German-American Identity Politics

23 April 2024

Heidelberg Center for American Studies awards prize for doctoral thesis in the field of American Studies

For her outstanding doctoral thesis on German-American identity politics in connection with the Holocaust discourse in the USA, the American Studies scholar Dr Julia Lange will be awarded with the Rolf Kentner Dissertation Prize. This award, which includes prize money of 1,000 euros, is presented annually by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) of Heidelberg University. The dissertation was written at Universität Hamburg. The award ceremony for the Dissertation Prize, featuring a lecture by the prize winner, will take place on 25 April 2024 at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies.

In her dissertation, which received “summa cum laude”, Julia Lange addresses various actors in the field of German-American identity politics in the last third of the 20th century who competed or cooperated with one another and did not necessarily represent the majority of the millions of Americans of German descent. Through discourse analyses, she managed to demonstrate that the politics of memory of various interest groups developed in close relation and entanglement with the Holocaust discourse even after 1970 with the onset of the “ethnic revival”. The historic genocide of European Jews largely served as a projection screen for prejudices and fears over a loss of reputation for the German-American ethnicity, as Dr Lange explains. The extent to which the changing representation of the Holocaust over time was and continues to be dynamically interlinked with constructions of a German-American identity is also the subject of the keynote lecture “Identity Trouble: German American Politics of Memory and the Holocaust”, which the award winner will give as part of the ceremony.

Julia Lange studied North American literature and culture, English and law with additional qualifications in Romance languages and media studies at the University of Hamburg and the University of Oxford (UK). She then continued her research in Hamburg with a doctoral scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Stays abroad took her to various American institutions, including Harvard University. In 2022, Julia Lange received her doctoral degree from the University of Hamburg. Since 2019, she has been working as a documentary journalist in the International Affairs Department of the SPIEGEL publishing house, which she has headed since November 2022.

With the Rolf Kentner Dissertation Prize, the HCA has been honouring outstanding work in the field of American Studies since 2010. The award is named after Rolf Kentner (1947-2020). The promoter of German-American relations and American Studies in Heidelberg had close ties with the HCA – and with Heidelberg University as an Honorary Senator. The award ceremony at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Hauptstraße 120, starts at 6.15 p.m.