2020 Postgraduate Dissertation Prize Winner and Shortlist

Each year we select and award dissertation prizes for outstanding essays written by undergraduate and postgraduate students. Winning and shortlisted essays are assessed on the quality of their originality, research and method, and form and content.

Shortlisted runners up

Tazetta Yerkes (Northumbria University), Paint Not by Number: The Value of Art Making for Vulnerable Students.

Ariana Torres (University of York), Fashion, Commodity and the Surrealist Self in the Photographic Collaboration between Man Ray and Elsa Schiaparelli, 1931-1937.

Gerry Fässler (University of York), The Fleeting Existence of Sin and Death:Neoclassical Personification-Allegory in Paradise Lost Illustrations.

Prize winning essay
We are delighted to announce that Kayra Uguz (University of Oxford) is the winner of the Association for Art History’s 2020 Postgraduate Dissertation Prize for their essay, ‘Sultan Süleyman: Fashioning the Sultanic Self in Sixteenth Century Konstantiniyye‘. Congratulations Kayra. Read the essay abstract below.


This project takes into account Sultan Süleyman I (1494-1566), the tenth and longest reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (c.1299-1922). Using post-colonial scholarship from literary and anthropological studies, I question the extent to which Süleyman’s identities were produced, and productive, in responding to shifting political landscapes. In particular, I look at four distinct (and somewhat conflicting) identities fashioned by the Sultan: a formidable Renaissance ruler, a protagonist in the apocalyptic Danielic tradition, a strictly orthodox Islamic leader and a caliphate Imam of the Age. These four Süleymanic selves become the pillars upon which I question the potential of identity in fixing unsteady imperial positions in the EuroAsian early modern world.

Overall, I show that Süleyman’s reign was a testimony to the rise of early modern consciousness
regarding the flexibility of identity, arguing that what Stephen Greenblatt had called ‘Renaissance self-fashioning’ was not limited to the English context, but capitalised by the Ottoman court as an ideologic weapon that could respond to shifting sociopolitical circumstances, audiences and aesthetic values. What kinds of identities did Sultan Süleyman develop for himself throughout his uniquely long reign? How were these centred in the communicative processes between different subjects in relations of power? In a larger sense, what is the relationship between identity politics and Islamic rulership in the early modern period?

Assessment and Nominations

The Dissertation Prize is assessed by our Doctoral and Early Career Research (DECR) committee. Many thanks to those on the committee who read and shortlisted this year’s submissions. The quality and originality of this year’s postgraduate essays has been extremely high. Thanks to all who submitted nominations, and thank you for your patience in awaiting the delayed announcement.

Find out more about Nominations for 2021 Dissertation Prize – deadline for Undergraduate 1 August and Postgraduate 1 December 2021.

Read more about our 2020 Postgraduate Dissertation Prize winner and shortlist.

Image credit: ‘Ārif, Süleymānnāme (H. 1517 TSM), fol. 321 b, 1558, illustrated manuscript, Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul

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