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German Professor Earns Top Prize

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Jonathan Wipplinger

Assistant Professor of German Jonathan Wipplinger has won recognition for his research into blackface minstrelsy in German culture.

“The Racial Ruse: On Blackness and Blackface Comedy in fin-de-siecle Germany” was voted as the best article in The German Quarterly (vol. 84) by the journal’s 16-member editorial board. The article explores the role of blackface minstrelsy within German culture at the turn of the 20th century. It argues that blackface’s presence in the colonial and global world around 1900 had the effect of forcing a re-evaluation and reinterpretation of the very notion of what it meant to be German in modernity.

“This article looks at why Germans saw blackface minstrelsy as a racial ruse, as a trick played on the audience, and what this reaction says about their anxieties regarding blackness and its relation to their own racial and cultural identity,” Wipplinger says. “I wanted to show how categories of race and blackness in particular have played an important role in how Germans define themselves and their world, both in the past and the present.”

“The Max Kade Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in German Studies,” says Department Head and Professor of German Ruth Gross. “We are very proud of Jonathan’s work.”

Wipplinger will receive the award and a $1500 cash prize at the American Association of Teachers of German meeting in Philadelphia in November.