2020 Dissertation Prize

Erik Glowark is the winner of this year’s prize for the best dissertation in world history. He competed his study, “The Christianization of Kyushu: a World Historical Interpretation of the Jesuit Mission to Japan, 1549–1650” at the University of Oregon. The prize committee, which included four past WHA presidents, praised his dissertation for its broad comparisons of the spread of Christianity and Buddhism as well as for its penetrating analysis of the Japanese responses to the Jesuit missionaries.

Dr. Erik Glowark

There were three other finalists for the prize. Dalal M. Alsayer, who earned her doctorate on the role of American architectural influences in modern Arabia from the University of Pennsylvania, is currently an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Kuwait. Ghee Bowman of Exeter University (UK) wrote a dissertation on on Indian troops in the Normandy invasion. Hyeok Hweon Kang, currently a visiting scholar at John Hopkins University, wrote his dissertation at Harvard University on early-modern Korean science and technology.

Reflecting the growing importance of world history globally, this year’s applicants’ origins were quite diverse as were their dissertation topics. Although most of the 17 applicants completed their doctorates at universities in the United States, nearly half of them were first educated elsewhere: in Europe, in the Middle East, and in various parts of South, Southeast, and East Asia. Several of these wrote about places other than their homelands, as did all of the American-born applicants.

Professor David Northrup, past president of the WHA, & his friend, Anna Konda.

The WHA is grateful to David Northrup for so ably charing the Dissertation Prize Committee for the past four years.

We also express our gratitude to the committee members and acknowledge their labor: Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Notre Dame University; Ruth Mostern, University of Pittsburgh; John Voll, Georgetown University; Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and Anand Yang,  University of Washington.

The WHA extends our congratulations to Drs. Glowark, Alsayer, Bowman, and Kang. We look forward to joining the prize committee in reading their work, and anticipate collegial engagements in the years to come. We also thank all the scholars who submitted their work for consideration.

For those of you who’ve recently completed a dissertation in world history, or will file in the next few months, please keep an eye out for the call for 2021 applicants.