Sunday, December 1, 2013

Distinguished Dissertations

Recent U of M graduate and new faculty hire pick up top two awards in the category

Caley D. Horan, '12, and Austin Prosser Johnson Mason, a recent hire and assistant professor in the Department of History, received top honors for their dissertations in the Humanities and Fine Arts category at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools.

Horan, who received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota and was advised by Regents Professor Elaine Tyler May and Professor Lary May, was named runner-up for the award. Her dissertation, Actuarial Age: Insurance and the Emergence of Neoliberalism in the Postwar United States, also earned her the 2012 Best Dissertation Award from the Graduate School.

Horan's dissertation charts a history of the social and cultural life of private insurance in the United States after 1945. Drawing on analyses of insurance marketing, consumption, investment, and regulation, Horan argues that insurance institutions and actuarial practices played a crucial role in introducing neoliberal rationalities and governance to American life in the years following World War II. Horan is currently a lecturer in the history department at Princeton University.

Mason was the winner of the Dissertation Award in Humanities and Fine Arts. In his dissertation, Listening to the Early Medieval Dead: Religious Practices in Britain, 400–1000 CE, relying primarily on material culture and only secondarily on textual evidence, Mason argues that the Christianization of England was a much more complex process than the rapid conversion depicted in written sources. Mason received his Ph.D. in Medieval History at Boston College; he is currently assistant professor in the Department of History.

Sponsored jointly by CGS and ProQuest Dissertations Publishing and first presented in 1981, the CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation awards are made annually to individuals who, in the opinion of the award committee, have completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.

Congratulations, Caley & Austin!