The Comics Studies Society

CSS Prizes 2017

The Comics Studies Society recognizes outstanding contributions to the study of comic art with four annual prizes: the CSS Article Prize, the Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship, the CSS Book Prize, and the Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation.

The CSS defines comic art liberally to include all forms of cartooning, sequential art, and graphic narrative: comic strips, comic books, papers, and magazines; albums, graphic novels, and other graphic books; webcomics and other electronic formats; single-panel cartoons, including editorial and gag cartoons; caricature; animation; and other related forms and traditions.

  • Nominees for the CSS prizes may be historical, biographical, critical, analytical, pedagogical, and/or bibliographical in focus.
  • Nominees should draw on original research, acknowledge and advance existing scholarship where relevant, and include appropriate documentation.
  • Reprints of or excerpts from previously published works are not eligible for prizes.

Frequency and time period: Prizes will be awarded by CSS at its conference every year, beginning in 2018, for first-time publications (not reprints or revised editions) or original presentations bearing a copyright date for the previous calendar year. (For example, the 2018 prizes will cover publications/presentations © 2017.)

Nomination process: Peer nominations and self-nominations are welcomed. Nomination letters are due the first of February of each year. The letter of nomination should do the following:

  • Identify the work’s complete title, author(s) name(s), publisher, and original copyright date.
  • Include means of access to a complete digital copy of the work that members of the CSS Prize Committee can access as needed; alternately, for works native to print, three complete physical copies of the book or article as published.

Nominations and inquiries should be sent by email to the CSS Awards Coordinator at awards@comicssociety.org. Physical copies of publications should be sent by snail mail to the Awards Coordinator at:

Dr. Martha Kuhlman
English and Cultural Studies Department
Bryant University
1150 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917

Judging and awarding process: Nominees for each prize will be reviewed by a committee of not less than three members of the Comics Studies Society, as chosen by the CSS Executive Board and including the Awards Coordinator or her/his designee. Prize winners will be notified by the first of June, and announcements will be published on the CSS website and in Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.

Winners will be recognized at the CSS’s next conference and invited to take part in a roundtable discussion of research at that conference. In addition, winners will receive a $300 cash award and a plaque.

  • Comics Studies Society Article Prize
    The CSS Article Prize recognizes scholarly journal articles and anthology chapters that significantly advance the field of Comics Studies—that is, articles or essays that greatly add to our understanding of comic art and/or its historical, cultural, critical, or theoretical contexts.

    Eligibility and qualifications: With this prize, the CSS aims to celebrate high-quality, research-oriented articles about comic art or Comics Studies, written in English and published in print journals and/or online journals, or as chapters in books and/or e-books by either academic or other publishers.
  • Gilbert Seldes Prize for Public Scholarship
    The Seldes Prize acknowledges the best public scholarship in Comics Studies from the previous year, published online or in non-academic periodical formats.

    The Seldes Prize is named in honor of Gilbert Seldes, the pioneering American cultural critic who almost a century ago first celebrated the comics, the most “despised” of the “lively arts,” and called for their proper study and appreciation. Comics Studies as a field emerged out of the writings and research of individuals who followed in Seldes’ footsteps, studying and preserving the history of a form that few academic institutions would embrace until the waning years of the 20th century. Even as Comics Studies becomes more fully integrated into the 21st-century academy, it is this long tradition of public criticism and scholarship that continues to serve as its life’s blood.

    Eligibility and qualifications: The Seldes Prize is awarded to the writer (or, in the case of collaborative work, writers) judged best by the prize committee, based on a portfolio of up to three pieces of up to 2000 words each. For writers working in longer forms, the total word count of the submitted portfolio must be limited to 6000 words. The winner can be an academic (that is, employed by an academic institution) but the site of publication must be “public” and non-academic (that is, unaffiliated with an academic institution).

    The Gilbert Seldes Prize is co-sponsored by CSS and Inks editor Jared Gardner.
  • Comics Studies Society Book Prize
    The CSS Book Prize recognizes scholarly books that significantly advance the field of Comics Studies—that is, books that greatly add to our understanding of comic art and/or its historical, cultural, critical, or theoretical contexts.

    Eligibility and qualifications: With this prize, the CSS aims to celebrate high-quality, research-oriented monographs and edited collections about comic art or Comics Studies, written in English or translated into English (based upon the year of English publication), and published in book and/or e-book format by either academic or other publishers. Periodicals are not eligible for this prize. Archival editions of comics or comic art will not be eligible for this prize unless they incorporate a substantial scholarly component including original research.
  • The Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation
    The Graduate Student Caucus (GSC) of the Comics Studies Society (CSS) is invested in encouraging finely-crafted and innovative comics scholarship by members of the graduate student community. To actively promote the writing and dissemination of such scholarship, the GSC seeks submissions for “The Hillary Chute Award for Best Graduate Student Conference Presentation.” The award is named after Hillary Chute, whose pioneering work as a comics scholar paved the way for feminist and political readings of graphic autobiography. Presentations will be judged by blind review based on overall quality and contribution to the field of comics studies.

    Eligibility and qualifications: In order to qualify for this award, applicants must prove upon request their status as a graduate student at the time of the presentation. All conference presentations given during the 2017 calendar year on the subject of comics, cartooning, and caricature qualify for this award. Valid and current membership in the Comics Studies Society is also required.
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