Iwanter Prize for Undergraduate Research

The annual Iwanter Prize provides an unrestricted $2,000 award to one graduating senior who, through a senior thesis and general academic distinction, demonstrates outstanding humanities-based scholarship of a broad and interdisciplinary nature. The award is made possible by a gift to the University of Wisconsin Foundation by Sidney E. Iwanter, an alumnus of the College of Letters & Science (BA History, 1971).

Applications for the Iwanter Prize are due: June 1, 2024.

Read about the recent Iwanter Prize winners here.

Application Guidelines

The thesis must be interdisciplinary but need not be interdepartmental. The topic of the winning thesis must reflect a breadth of interests and learning experiences as well as depth in its main area of focus. It should draw from more than one scholarly discipline (for example, history and Italian literature; philosophy and art), but it may do so in a variety of ways. Many students working within the disciplinary conventions of one department are already regularly undertaking interdisciplinary research, and should be considered eligible for the award.

Eligibility is restricted to seniors graduating from the College of Letters & Science, and who are receiving a degree with a major in a humanities discipline. Students graduating in the previous winter semester are eligible, and students graduating in the summer may submit an advanced draft version of the thesis.

Applications for the Iwanter prize should come directly from students, but must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the thesis advisor. Applications should consist of three parts, all directed to iwanter@humanities.wisc.edu.

  1. A one-page cover letter from the student that includes (a) the student’s graduation semester, year and major(s), (b) title and a brief description of the senior thesis (c) a brief overview of the student’s interdisciplinary experiences, and (d) current and post-graduation contact information, as a PDF
  2. The PDF of the student’s senior thesis
  3. A signed letter of recommendation directly from the student’s thesis advisor, who must be an instructor in the Humanities and Arts Division of the College of Letters & Science

Materials may arrive separately, but all materials must be received by the Center for the Humanities by the deadline. Additional questions can be directed to Megan Massino, Associate Director, at massino@wisc.edu.

The Iwanter Prize itself is about legacy and the passing of intellectual curiosity from one generation to another. The prize was established in 2000 by alumnus Sidney E. Iwanter (B.A. ’71, History), a native of the Greenbush neighborhood in Madison. While an undergraduate, Iwanter’s own curiosity and will to document the knowledge of the previous generation led him to secretly record the lectures of Professor of History and political activist Harvey Goldberg. In 2004, Iwanter generously donated these “bootlegs” to UW-Madison (the lectures are available from the Harvey Goldberg Center). Additionally, in 2017 the George L. Mosse Program in History conducted an oral history with Mr. Iwanter; in that video you can find out more about his childhood in Madison, attendance at UW-Madison, career in Hollywood, and why he set up the Iwanter Prize.

Iwanter, who now lives in Los Angeles, continues to support the undergraduate humanities and the love of learning at UW-Madison, stemming from his belief that, “a well-rounded humanities education is the keystone to an informed electorate and a healthy society.”


2022 Iwanter Prize
Alanna Goldstein (Gender & Women’s Studies and Political Science)
Thesis: Poetics as Disobedience: Reimagining Academic Debate
Advisor: Professor Jill Casid

2022 Iwanter Prize
Rachel Litchman
Thesis: Ableism, Disability, and Systemic Injustice in the Lives of Runaway Youth and Youth Considering Running Away
Advisor: Professor Sami Schalk

2021 Iwanter Prize
Noah Mapes (Art History)
Thesis: Supermarket Activism: Locating Identity and Red Power Rhetoric in Peter B. Jones’ Indian Brand Series
Advisor: Professor Anna Andrzejewski

2021 Honorable Mention
Taylor Leigh Scofield (Art History, Political Science)
Thesis: The Gentrification of Public Art: Oakland Street Art and Graffiti Post-Tech Boom
Advisor: Professor Daniel Spaulding

2021 Honorable Mention
Alyssa Hamrick (History)
Thesis: From Katyn to ‘Katynism’: The U.S. Congressional Investigation of the Katyn Massacre, 1951-52
Advisor: Professor Kathryn Ciancia

2020 Iwanter Prize
Adi Dina (English and Art History)
Thesis: Plastic Surveillance: Negotiating Digital Girlhood in the Work of Portia Munson, Julia Scher, and Juliana Huxtable 
Advisor: Professor Jill Casid

2020 Honorable Mention
Alyson Long (History)
Thesis: Diaspora Politics: How the Lithuanian-American Community Sought American Support for an Independent Lithuania 1890-1950
Advisor: Professor Kathryn Ciancia

2019 Iwanter Prize
Daniel Ahrendt (History)
Thesis: Purchasers of Their Own ‘Kith and Kin’: Southwest Borderlands Captive-Taking and the Limits of U.S. Authority in New Mexico, 1849-1852
Advisor: Professor Susan Lee Johnson

2019 Honorable Mention
Keqinhua Zhu (Art History and Conservation Biology)
Thesis: From Global to Local: A Case Study of the Macartney Tapestry in the Reign of Emperor Qianlong, 1735-1796
Advisor: Professor Yuhang Li

2018 Iwanter Prize
Alexa Machnik (Art History)
Thesis: Deified Beauty: Yang Guifei’s Cultural Legacy and Manifestation as Kannon in the Sennyu-ji Temple
Advisor: Professor Yuhang Li

2018 Honorable Mention
Emma Strenski (History and International Studies)
Thesis: The Brcko Arbitration: A New Way of Governing Ethnicity in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Advisor: Professor Kathryn Ciancia

2017 Iwanter Prize
Isaiah Stock (Political Science)
Thesis: A Reluctant Game-Changer: Examining Pre-exposure Prophylaxis through Epistemological Pluralism
Advisor: Professor John Zumbrunnen

2017 Honorable Mention
Samuel Gee (History and Religious Studies)
Thesis: Scientific Salvation: Mystical Experience and the Psychology of Religion in America, 1880-1930
Advisors: Professor Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen and Dr. Corrie Norman

2016 Iwanter Prize
Margaret McLaughlin (Art History, Classical Humanities)
Thesis: Heroes, Horses, and Heaven: The Mythological Ideology of the Thracian Elite
Advisor: Professor Nick Cahill

2015 Iwanter Prize
Alexander Sherman (Mathematics, English)
Thesis: Approximating Characters: The Waves and Fourrier Analysis
Advisor: Professor Susan Stanford Friedman

2015 Honorable Mention
Chelsea Cornelius (Philosophy, Religious Studies)
Thesis: Cyberspace as Sacred Space: Mapping Online Feminist-Religious Identity, Community, and Coalition Building
Advisor: Professor Susan Zaeske

2015 Honorable Mention
Megan Ness (History)
Thesis: Children at Work: Childhood Labor in the Ancient Greek World
Advisor: Professor Claire Taylor

2014 Iwanter Prize
Benjamin Blackman (English)
Thesis: Informing the Human: Patterned Bodies from Romanticism to Postmodernity
Advisor: Professor Monique Allewaert

2014 Honorable Mention
Laura Sevelis (Art History and Zoology)
Thesis: A State of Wonder: Blaschka Marine Invertebrates and the Tension Between Religion and Science, 1863 -1890
Advisor: Professor Nancy Rose Marshall

2013 Iwanter Prize
Kyrie Eleison H. Caldwell (Art History and Religious Studies)
Thesis: Digital “Fayth” and Ritual “Play”: A Study in Religious Participation and Audiovisual Affect in Contemporary Video Games
Advisor: Professor Quitman E. Phillips

2012 Iwanter Prize
Jamie Stark (Political Science)
Thesis: The WikiLeaks Club
Advisor: Professor Lew Friedland

2012 Honorable Mention
Susan Burns (History)
Thesis: Reflecting Tragedy: A Comparison of Public Sites of Memory in Vietnam and the United States
Advisor: Professor Alfred McCoy

2011 Iwanter Prize: Jeff Eversman (History)

2010 Iwanter Prize: Catherine Victoria Olien (Anthropology)

2009 Iwanter Prize
Molly Eddy (Anthropology)
Thesis: Spirit and Body: Paradox and Ambiguity in Brigidine Devotion


2008 Iwanter Prize
Claire Allen (Anthropology)
Thesis: Feminism in the Slums: Considering Alternatives for Muslim Girls’ Education in India
Advisor: Professor Kirin Narayan

2007 Iwanter Prize
Lindsay M. Woodbridge (English)
Thesis: The Fallout of Silent Spring
Advisor: Professor Rob Nixon

2006 Iwanter Prize
Jason Rozumalski (History and Political Science)
Thesis: Vegetable Politick: Enlightenment and English Rural Life
Advisor: Professor Jean Lee

2005 Iwanter Prize: Michael Darnell (Russian)

2004 Iwanter Prize
Kristin Lambert (English)
Thesis: Doubled Vision: Spectation on the Early Modern Stage
Advisor: Professor Henry Turner

2003 Iwanter Prize: Sinan Sirri Kalayoglu (Geography and Political Science)

2002 Iwanter Prize: Jyoti Raghu (English and Religious Studies)

2001 Iwanter Prize: Chris Hemauer (Art History)