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Awards and Prizes

The GSC PhD Dissertation Prize is normally awarded every other year, with two awards being a possibility in the event that submissions are found to include two outstanding dissertations from fields considered too different to allow fair comparison.

The next prize is to be awarded at the CAUTG Annual Meeting in May/June 2021 in Edmonton, for dissertations defended between 16 October 2018 and 15 October 2020.

Nomination Criteria: A nominated PhD dissertation must have been defended, in the specified time period (16 Oct 2018 to 15 Oct 2020), in a Canadian German department or program in any area of German Studies (cultural studies, linguistics, literature, second language acquisition) or as partial completion of a PhD degree in, for example, comparative literature, philosophy, or history. It should demonstrate strong original scholarship, and it may be written in English, French, or German.

Nomination Process: Self-nomination is not possible. Members of each PhD-granting department or program are asked to select one eligible dissertation for nomination. That choice is to be communicated, by 13 November 2020, to the chair of the dissertation-prize committee, by the graduate chair/coordinator (or by the department chair or his/her designate). That communication is to be accompanied by (a) an electronic version of the nominated dissertation (as pdf-, word-, or rtf document) and (b) a letter, not to exceed two pages (letter-size, single-spaced, 12 font), briefly outlining the dissertation’s merits (quoting, perhaps, comments by the examining committee or external reviewer). That letter may be authored by the department chair, the graduate-program chair, or by the dissertation supervisor, as the nominators see fit.

Selection Committee: After the submission deadline, the chair of the graduate-prize committee, in consultation with the president of the CAUTG, will appoint two other colleagues who are currently active faculty members in German programs at Canadian universities to constitute the selection committee and consider the nominated dissertations. We hope to have a final decision by the third week of January. Currently active German-program colleagues should feel free at any time to contact the prize-committee chair to volunteer to act on the selection committee, provided conflicts of interest do not rule out such participation.

Objectivity: The committee will ensure the optimal objectivity and fairness of the selection process and base its decision solely on the quality of the submitted dissertations.

The Prize: The award winners will receive an official CAUTG certificate and a cash award of $500. Winners are also eligible for the defraying of travel costs to the annual CAUTG meeting at which the award is granted.

Current Chair of Dissertation Prize Committee:
Raleigh Whitinger, Professor emeritus of German
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
University of Alberta

The Hermann Boeschenstein Medal is the highest honour of the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German (CAUTG). Inscribed “Teacher –  Scholar – Humanitarian,” it commemorates one of Canada’s most distinguished and beloved scholars of German. It is awarded from time to time to a person – normally a Germanist at a Canadian university – who has made exceptional contributions, in the humanitarian spirit of Hermann Boeschenstein, to the welfare of our Association and to the advancement of our discipline in Canada. The decision to confer the award is at the discretion of a selection committee appointed by the Directors of the CAUTG. It was first awarded in 1987 on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Association.



About Hermann Boeschenstein (1900-1982)

Born in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland, Hermann Boeschenstein studied at the Universities of Kiel, Königsberg, and Berlin before receiving his doctorate at the University of Rostock in 1924 with a dissertation on the Swiss philosopher J.P. Crousaz. After trying his hand as a novelist and a journalist, he emigrated to Canada in 1926, returning briefly to Switzerland in 1928 to marry and bring back his wife. He began working at the University of Toronto as both a German teacher and a laboratory assistant at the Banting Institute. Then, from 1930 on, he taught in the Department of German, where he eventually became Head, succeeding Barker Fairley in 1956 and serving until his retirement in 1967. His publications include The German Novel 1939-1944 (1949), books on Stehr and Keller, his two-volume magnum opus Deutsche Gefühlskultur (1954/1966), German Literature of the Nineteenth Century (1969), and numerous scholarly articles.

During the Second World War he was granted leave from teaching to work for the War Prisoners’ Aid group of the YMCA. As its secretary, he travelled to the internment camps, assisting thousands of German prisoners of war throughout Canada. He helped them contact kin, supplied them with books, and intervened with officials on their behalf. After the war, many former POW’s remembered his kindness and stayed in touch. He returned to teaching and research and also became deeply involved in cultural organisations that served the growing community of German-speaking immigrants. As one of his biographers has written, “his scholarly concerns from this time forth were informed by a belief in the need to disseminate his knowledge of the unbroken German tradition of civilized values that, he hoped, outweighed and overrode the temporary aberrations of history” (Rodney Symington, Introduction, Selected Essays on German Literature, by Hermann Böschenstein [NY: Lang, 1986] p. 10).

University of Toronto colleague Hans Eichner remembers Hermann Boeschenstein as “a wonderful and admirable colleague. He was extraordinarily well read, particularly of course in German literature, and he was an accomplished speaker who could be both very funny and very serious. . . . He is the only person I have ever known who could effortlessly, and without notes, quote prose. But there are many other good speakers and good scholars. What was unique about him was his unfailing kindness and generosity and his extraordinary ability to create the right atmosphere for good talk and intellectual comradeship. He gave great parties in his house, which was quite close to the U. of T., inviting the right people and providing unlimited quantities of Scotch; and at every conference he went to – I am thinking particularly of the annual gatherings of the CAUTG – he was the center around which people gathered and learned something and had a good time” (personal communication, Sept. 2000).

Anthony Riley, who while Head of the Queen’s University German Department sponsored Hermann Boeschenstein for an honorary doctorate in 1968, also fondly remembers his conviviality and his “hollow leg.” He will “go down in history not only as a fine Germanist and creative writer, but above all as a great humanitarian, whose warmth of personality made him the friend as well as mentor of countless students and many colleagues. I admired his intellect, his fairness, his camaraderie, his joviality, and his abiding love of literature and of his fellow human beings” (personal communication, 8 August 2000).

Michael Hadley (University of Victoria) writes: “I remember waiting on a bench outside the examination room on the day of my PhD defense at Queen’s (Kingston) in 1971. . . . Footsteps echoing down the hall turned my attention to a dignified elderly gentleman in formal attire striding in my direction with a thesis under his arm. He was, of course, Hermann Boeschenstein, my external examiner. He had journeyed up from Toronto that morning and would be returning by train later in the day. ‘And you must be the candidate’, he said with an engaging smile. ‘It’s going to be just fine; it’s an excellent piece of work.’ Whereupon he disappeared into what my imagination had been conjuring up as the lion’s den. Of course, the exam did go well. Except perhaps at the last when he turned to me and asked whether, after all the reading I had done, I could bear to read yet another 18th-century novel (the subject of my research). Perhaps fatigued after the morning’s performance I hastily replied that I would forgo the pleasure for a while. Whereupon he presented me with a copy of a 17th-century novel entitled Der akademische Roman.” This anecdote, Hadley suggests, “typifies how he dealt with students: generously, encouragingly, and always ready to recognize and reward.” Yet there was more to it than simple kindness: “Dr. Boeschenstein was a humanitarian in the deepest sense of the word: concerned with human welfare, reaching out to those in real need. . . . His humanitarianism was nurtured not only by a wisdom that emerged from a broad and constantly growing intellectual culture, but by his Christian convictions about compassion and the innate dignity of human beings” (personal communication, 24 September 1999).


About the Medal

The Medal was commissioned by the CAUTG in 1986 from the distinguished Toronto sculptor and medalist Dora de Pédery-Hunt (1913-2008), who also designed the image of Queen Elizabeth II that appeared on Canadian coins from 1990 to 2003.


Recipients of the Hermann Boeschenstein Medal

1987 Anthony W.
Riley, Queen’s University

1988 Hans
Eichner, University of Toronto

1989 Michael S.
Batts, University of British Columbia

1992 Marketa
Goetz-Stankiewicz, University of British Columbia

1998 Manfred
Prokop, University of Alberta

2001 Robert H.
Farquharson, University of Toronto

2001 Rodney T. K. Symington,
University of Victoria

2008 Hermina Joldersma, University
of Calgary

2011 Raleigh Whitinger, University
of Alberta

2012 David G. John, University of Waterloo

2015 Linda Dietrick, University of Winnipeg

2021 Karin Bauer, McGill University

Linda Dietrick, May 2015




Hermann Boeschenstein Medal Brochure

Organized and funded by The Canadian Association for University Teachers of German (CAUTG) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Innovate German Award focuses on new courses, curriculum and program development, and the implementation of new teaching and learning approaches in German Studies (language, literature, theory, film, drama, media, history, politics, business, etc.).

The competition is open to members of any department or program at a Canadian university or college, as long as the content of the materials is related to German Studies. The award includes a prize of $1,000 as well as registration and a travel & accommodation bursary to attend the next annual conference of the CAUTG.

The award committee consists of the CAUTG Vice-President (Chair), one other CAUTG executive member, one DAAD representative, and one past winner of the award.

If you wish to nominate yourself or someone else, please refer to the 2021 Innovate German Call for Nominations (English and French). New Deadline: January 18, 2021.

Past winners include:

2021: Dr. Barbara Theriault (Université de Montréal) for her course “Sociologie, feuilleton, reportage,” which exposes students to immensely rich interdisciplinary linkages between Sociology, German Studies, Media Studies, and History, making German Studies material accessible to students of a cognate field, thereby highlighting its relevance to social science students.

2020: Dr. Erol Boran (University of Toronto) for his third-year German course “German Theatre Production: Preparation-Rehearsal-Staging”, an experiential and praxis-oriented course, where students take over all aspects of a German-language theatre production under his direction. Taught every two years, students study and perform a play entirely in German in front of other students and the larger German community in Toronto. They walk away from the course with increased enthusiasm for the arts and improved cultural and linguistic competencies. For more information about the course and performance, please see this article on SoGerman.

2019: A team of four professors at the University of Victoria, i.e. Drs. Dániel Péter Biró (Music), Helga Hallgrímsdóttir (Sociology), Charlotte Schallié (Germanic Studies), and Helga Thorson (Germanic Studies) for their graduate-level international and interdisciplinary course field school “Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia in the European Union and Canada”. For further details, please see the Description of the EU Summer School and the EU Poster.

2018: Dr. James Skidmore (University of Waterloo) for his online course “German Thought and Culture – Objects”, which uses interdisciplinary innovative methodologies contextualizing student learning within larger frameworks such as material culture an engaged learning. For further details, please see the Course Syllabus.

2017: Dr. Katrina Sark (University of Victoria) for her course and course website on Gender and Media. For further details regarding the course and website, please see Katrina Sark’s article “Gender and Media: Course, Website and Research Report”, Forum Deutsch 25.1 (2017).

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