2020 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Winner

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

From a large number of extremely high quality essays we shortlisted two worthy runners up. These are:

Holly Worrall (University of Essex) for their essay ‘Astronomical Sublime: How Representational Conventions in Contemporary Astrophotography Shape Views of the Cosmos‘.

Emily Stokes (University of Nottingham) for their essay ‘Temporal Bodies: Chasing Femininity From the Chinese Cultural Revolution to Now‘.

Prize winning essay
We are delighted to announce that Hannah Dickson (University of Exeter) is the winner of the Association for Art History’s 2020 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize for their essay, ‘The Land of the Rising Impressionist Print: Perpetual Oscillation Between Japan and the West, 1850-1925‘. Read the essay abstract below.


Overshadowed by the success of ‘traditional’ ukiyo-e woodcuts which dominated the European art world and played an instrumental role in the growth of Impressionism, Japan’s ground-breaking movements of sōsaku-hanga and shin-hanga, successive to documentary kaika-e prints of the Meiji period, remain largely unexplored beyond their homeland. Existing as unearthed jewels reserved only for those who seek to delve into the sphere of modern Japanese art history, these progressive woodcuts must be brought to light. Where prints of this period have been studied, there is seldom a conclusion which negates the strongly contended view surrounding the ‘decline’ of Japanese printmaking following the deaths of Edo woodblock masters Hokusai and Hiroshige. A deeper exploration into these descendants of ukiyo-e, existing separately from the Western art historical canon, is not only therefore necessary for their revival within the story of art but moreover imperative to a greater understanding of the perpetual oscillation displayed between Japan and the West from 1850 to 1925. Focussing on themes of global modernity, Eurocentricity, and Orientalism, this dissertation endeavours to elucidate the cultural crossings and intertwined histories that advocate narratives of reciprocity in place of one-sided borrowing from ‘eccentric’ Japan to the fascinated West.

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 for this prize, and thank you for our patience in awaiting the delayed announcement.

Read more about our 2019 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize winner and shortlist.

Image credit: Bathing in Brittany, 1918, by Yamamoto Kanae (山本鼎) © The Trustees of the British Museum

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