Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 20, 2007

PHOTO: Click on the thumbnail image for a high resolution version of this photo.

UI Graduate College alumnus wins nation's top dissertation award

University of Iowa alumnus Michael Chasar has won the nation's most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award. Chasar, who earned his doctorate in English this year, earned the award for his dissertation "Everyday Reading: U.S. Poetry and Popular Culture, 1880-1945," a study of how ordinary readers read and consume verse.

Selected above all other humanities and fine arts dissertations completed nationally for a two-year period (July 1, 2005-June 30, 2007), Chasar's study of poetry scrapbooking, poetry radio broadcasts and advertising poetry was honored at a ceremony during the CGS 47th annual meeting Dec. 6 in Seattle, Wash. He received a certificate, a $1,000 honorarium and travel expenses to attend the award ceremony.

Chasar's dissertation was directed by UI English Professor Dee Morris, with Ed Folsom, Garrett Stewart, Loren Glass, and Kembrew McLeod, all faculty in the UI's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, on the dissertation committee. Chasar completed additional dissertation preparation through the UI Center for the Book certificate program, an interdisciplinary arts and research unit that fosters the study of the book in society. Chasar is currently a visiting assistant professor in the UI's Department of English, teaching undergraduate courses in American literature and culture.

Chasar also won the UI Graduate College's 2007 D.C. Spriestersbach Dissertation Prize for best dissertation in the humanities and fine arts, an award which placed his work in the running for the national award as the UI's nominated dissertation. He will receive the Spriestersbach Prize honors, along with $2,500, in March at a special UI reception held in conjunction with the James F. Jakobsen Graduate Research Forum, organized by the Graduate Student Senate.

Winners of the UI's Spriestersbach Prize have fared exceptionally well in the national competition. Only Yale University, with four winners, has been recognized as often as the UI since the inauguration of the national competition in 1981. The other UI recipients of the national prize were: David Lasocki, music, most outstanding dissertation in the nation in the humanities, 1984; Matthew P. Anderson, physiology and biophysics, most outstanding dissertation in the biological sciences, 1993; Susan Behrends Frank, art history, most outstanding dissertation in the humanities, 1997. Ten other UI nominees have been finalists in the national dissertation competition.

"The success of the UI's candidates in the national competition is a tribute to the high standards of excellence met by doctoral research conducted at this university," said UI Graduate College Dean John Keller.

For more information on Chasar and the award, visit:

Other related links:
UI Department of English:
UI Center for the Book:
UI Graduate College:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jennifer Masada, UI Graduate College, 319- 335-2815,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,; writer: Jennifer Masada