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Willi Paul Adams Prize 2020 awarded to Thomas Castañeda

News from Jan 21, 2021

The JFK Institute has awarded the annual Willi Paul Adams Prize to Thomas Castañeda for his MA thesis written in the Department of Literature. Below is the prize committee's official citation:

"Thomas Castañeda’s MA thesis, “The Sense of Selena: A Thesis on Brownness” explores the life and legacy of the iconic singer Selena, and, more broadly, the concept of ‘Brownness’ as developed by José Esteban Muñoz. It is a passionately and eloquently written work dedicated to a very timely topic. In a fast-paced, clearly argued, and highly original text, Mr. Castañeda guides his reader through all aspects necessary for understanding the phenomenon of Selenidad, combining historical overview, close readings of her performance on- and off-stage, and theoretical explorations of disco, camp, and, of course, Muñoz’s impactful thoughts on “feeling brown” and its significance for Latinx identity. It is a work fully deserving to be awarded the 2020 Willi-Paul-Adams Prize for the best MA Thesis."

Additionally, Gregor Herz's thesis "From Curative to Preventative Sterilization: Therapeutic and Eugenic Sterilization Under the California State Commission in Lunacy" (Dept. of History) has received an honorable mention.