Winners of the 2024 Alexander Stephan Prize in German Studies
We are excited to announce the two winners of the 2024 Alexander Stephan National Undergraduate Essay Prize in German Studies!
Kirin Mueller’s essay, “Brüderblumen, Rettende Schwestern, und Ehefrau-Sabotage: Die Familienstrukturin Deutschen und Bengalischen Märchen,” has been awarded the prize for an essay written in German.
The selection committee was very impressed by the elegant prose and the originality of Kirin's comparative study of Bengali and German fairy tales and fully convinced by his thesis that the two fairy tale traditions differ, despite many overlaps, in their depictions of family structures, which, he argues mirror the social structures of their respective cultures.
Kirin majors in Cognitive Science and is pursuing a certificate in German at Yale University.
Katie O'Leary's essay, “Bodily Potential: Materialism and Trans-Corporeality in Ilse Aichinger’s 'Mein Vater aus Stroh',” has been awarded the prize for an essay written in English.
Katie's polished composition and elegant German prose impressed the selection committee, as did the originality of her approach to Aichinger’s story, often seen in the context of German post-WWII literature, from a completely new angle, combining theories of trans-corporeality and material ecocriticism. This approach allowed her to uncover the critical potential of the figure of a human being made of straw—it’s connection with the environment and the challenge that it poses to common understandings of physical and temporal boundaries among humans and their natural environment.
Katie has studied and interned in Berlin and is currently majoring in Chemistry and German at Carleton College in Minnesota.
The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University awards this prize as the result of a nation-wide contest judging papers of outstanding academic quality and originality that combine the forces of critique and engagement.