ASAP is proud to promote the best scholarship concerning the literary, visual, performing, and media arts, and we are deeply committed to promoting the excellent work done by members of the association.

To this end, the Association sponsors scholarly prizes for the best book each year and the best graduate student paper produced every other year at the Association’s biennial conference.

ASAP’s book prize is awarded annually for the book that makes the most significant contribution to the study of the arts of the present. Books are considered without regard to specific political point of view, aesthetic position, country of origin, publisher, or topic: any book that discusses the contemporary ARTS may be considered for the prize. The prize is given for a book published in the year prior to the submission deadline, which is usually in March. The committee consists of 2-3 members of the association appointed by the Motherboard. The winner will be announced at the annual meeting of the Association and on all Association social media sites and will receive a prize of $500.

  • The award is for scholarly rather than creative production (creative writing, original artwork, etc.), though we understand that the boundaries between these can be malleable.

  • Jointly authored monographs will be considered, but textbooks, anthologies, and collections by multiple authors, including bound editions of special issues of journals, are not eligible.

  • Critical media scholarship may be submitted in its publisher’s distribution format.

  • Self-published work is not eligible for the award. All submissions must be reputably refereed publications.

  • Books must be in English.

  • Publisher, third party, and self-nominations are encouraged. There are no limits on the number of books that one publisher can submit.

  • Authors need not be members of ASAP at the time of submission.

  • Authors are encouraged to request their publishers to send 3 copies of their books to the book award committee for prize consideration.

All graduate students who present papers at the ASAP biennial conference are invited to compete for the prize for the best paper written and presented by a graduate student at the conference. Papers are judged without regard to specific political point of view, aesthetic position, or topic: any paper presented at an ASAP conference may be considered for the prize. The winner will receive a copy of a prize-winning book from the ASAP Best Book Prize, a waiver of fee for the ASAP Luncheon, and a $100 cash award.

  • Only ASAP members in good standing can submit work for consideration for the graduate student paper award.

  • Papers considered for the prize must have been presented at the most recent ASAP conference.

  • Papers may be self-nominated or nominated by members of the association who attended the conference at which the paper was presented.

  • The paper must be the paper presented at the conference. It should not be in any way revised or edited for consideration by the prize committee.

  • Longer papers submitted to seminars are eligible, but submissions longer than 12 double-spaced pages (works cited excluded) will not be accepted.

  • Papers must be submitted electronically to the chair of the prize committee by the review deadline.

Prize Deadlines

Nominations are closed for this year. The next round of nominations will begin in the spring of 2019, when information will be posted here.

After careful deliberation– and aware of the unusual nature of the decision– the ASAP prize committee decided to award the ASAP Book Prize for a book published in calendar year 2016 to two exceptional books:

  • Ramzi Fawaz’s The New Mutants (NYU)
  • Annie McClanahan’s Dead Pledges (Stanford)

The joint award recognizes that both books, in their different objects of study and theoretical frameworks, productively follow the same procedure to deploy cultural objects (literature, cinema, comic books) for the illumination of our present predicaments and their aesthetic and ideological genealogies. They both proceed from the archeological activation of a concept that embodies processes relevant the present in the scene of their formulation: McClanahan’s “dead pledge” or “mort gagé” is a paradigmatic trope for financialization in modern capitalism, while Fawaz’s “new mutants” names embodiments of radical politics and subjectivities after the global Sixties.

From that departing point, McClanahan and Fawaz develop—with conceptual sophistication, elegant writing and erudite scholarship—readings of the contemporary that are outstanding on their own, but that become even more potent when they are read together. McClanahan’s study of subjectivation through finance and Fawaz’s understanding of the affective and the queer as sites of radical embodiment provide avenues to better comprehend the relationship between sociopolitical history, subjectivity and cultural form deployed by neoliberalism into the contemporary.

Thusly, this joint award seeks to acknowledge not only two books of parallel procedure and equal excellence, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the unexpected yet exciting possibilities in reading them together as interpretations of the present and as models of the most original and powerful scholarship in the humanities.

The Winners of the 2016 ASAP Book Prize

Annie McClanahan
Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture
(Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016)

To write a cultural history of the present is always a risky enterprise—when does our “now” begin, and how do we define it? In Dead PledgesAnnie McClanahan offers a compelling case for how debt has infiltrated and shaped contemporary American cultural production from the multiplex to the avant-garde since the 2008 credit crisis. While Dead Pledges, writing from and renewing the tradition of Marxist literary scholarship, contextualizes our present period in a longer history of neoliberal financialization, it makes a powerful case for how debt has become the principal defining feature of both our economic and cultural lives in the last decade. Moving with equal fluency through the discourse of political economy and incisive readings of novels, photographs, and films, McClanahan asks her readers to reconsider the economic, social, and cultural ways in which indebtedness haunts our contemporary experience.

Ramzi Fawaz
The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics
(New York: New York University Press, 2016)

What is the community for American comics? This question is at the heart of Ramzi Fawaz’s The New Mutants, a tightly argued, eminently readable study of the shifting faces of postwar superheroism. His answers, argued through specific case studies, are themselves unusual feats of scholarship and imagination, decisively establishing the comic book form as a restlessly inventive and often unruly context for social thought. Precisely in so doing, they also test the received limits of academic writing. Assuming no prior knowledge of or affinity for its objects of study, sophisticated in its interpretations yet unfailingly accessible in style and tone, The New Mutants is the rare specialized work with broad public appeal. It is a model for what humanistic inquiry can do and be today.


Book Prize
Angela Naimou, Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood (Fordham University Press, 2015).

Honorable Mention (two awards)
J.D. Connor, The Studios after the Studios: Neoclassical Hollywood (1970-2010) (Stanford University Press, 2015).


Paul Stephens, The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

The 2016 Prize Committee Members were Marijeta Bozovic, Jonathan Eburne, and Matthew Jesse Jackson.


Book Prize
Heather Houser, Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (Columbia UP, 2014).

Honorable Mention
Sarah Brouillette, Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford UP, 2014).

The 2015 Prize Committee Members were Jacob Edmond, Gloria Fisk, and Matthew Hart.


Book Prize
Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (Verso Books, 2013).

Honorable Mention
Min Hyoung Song, The Children of 1965: On Writing, and Not Writing, as an Asian American (Duke University Press, 2013).

The 2014 Book Prize Committee members were Sarah Evans, Joseph Jeon, and Andrew Hoberek.


Book Prize 
Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (Verso Books, 2012).

Honorable Mention
Jacob Edmond, A Common Strangeness (Fordham Univeristy Press, 2012).

The 2013 ASAP Book Prize Committee members were Jesse Matz, Terry Smith, and Karen Jacobs.


2017 Shortlist

The competition for ASAP’s 2017 Book Prize was fiercer than every before, so the committee decided to publish a shortlist of the books they found worthy of mention. All of the books on the shortlist demonstrate a profound degree of expertise in their immediate field and medium(s) of study, and they also address scholars and practitioners in other fields, disciplines and geographical regions. They are also pleasurable to read.

They range in focus from Brazilian performance art to Asian American literature, from comics to film, from debt crises to digital media.  For their liveliness and their timeliness, we recommend them to everybody who is interested in the arts of the present.


Ramzi Fawaz, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (New York: New York University Press, 2016).

Michael Boyce Gillespie, Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

Tung-Hui Hu, A Prehistory of the Cloud (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016).

Annie McClanahan, Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and Twenty-First-Century Culture (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016).

Irene V. Small, Hélio Oiticica: Folding the Frame (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Amy C. Tang, Repetition and Race: Asian American Literature After Multiculturalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).


2017 ASAP Book Prize Committee:
Jonathan P. Eburne, Penn State University (ex officio)
Sarah Chihaya, Princeton University
Ignacio Sánchez Prado, Washington University, St. Louis
Molly Warnock, Johns Hopkins University

Book Prize
Kenneth Goldsmith, Uncreative Writing (Columbia University Press, 2011).

Book Prize Honorable Mention
Terry Smith, Contemporary Art: World Currents, published by Prentice Hall, 2011.

Best Graduate Student Conference Paper Prize
Nilgun Bayraktar, PhD candidate in performance studies at UC Berkeley, for the paper “The Production of Migrant Illegality: Social Infrastructures of Undocumented Mobility in Ursula Biemann’s Sahara Chronicle.”

The 2012 ASAP Book Prize judges were Amy Elias, Andrew Hoberek, and Melissa Lee.
The Best Graduate Student Paper Prize judges were Jesse Matz and Matthew Hart.

The Shortlist

The Prize Committee was deeply impressed by the range and quality of submissions it received this year, so we are publishing the shortlist in advance of the announcement of the winners. We recommend all of these books in the strongest terms.

The shortlisted titles each demonstrate a profound degree of expertise in their immediate field and medium(s) of study, while also addressing scholars and practitioners in other fields, disciplines and geographical regions. They are also genuinely pleasurable to read.

The shortlisted titles for the ASAP Book Prize for a scholarly book published in 2017 are:

Julia Bryan-Wilson, Fray: Art and Textile Politics (University of Chicago Press)

Amy Sara Carroll, Remix: Toward an Art History of the NAFTA Era (University of Texas Press)

Kris Cohen, Never Alone, Except for Now: Art, Networks, Populations (Duke University Press)

Christopher Grobe, The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV (New York University Press)

Rangan Pooja, Immediations: The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary (Duke University Press)

The Prize Committee

The winners of ASAP Book Prizes are selected annually by a committee of members. This committee is chaired by the Past President, so this year’s chair was Mark Goble (University of California Berkeley). The other members of the committee were:

  • Aimee Bahng (Pomona University); and
  • Rachel Middleman (California State University, Chico).