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The Prize: The David Sanjek Graduate Student Paper is presented each year at the annual IASPM-US meeting to the student who has written and delivered the most outstanding paper at the conference. The winner of the prize receives a cash award and is formally announced and recognized at the conference’s general business meeting.

The Prize honors David Sanjek, who passed away in 2011. Sanjek was a longtime IASPM-US member who served the association in many important capacities: as secretary, vice-president, and most notably president from 1995-1998. As the director of the BMI Archives from 1991-2007, and later on as Professor and Chair of the Salford Music Research Centre from 2007-2011, Sanjek straddled the lines of the professional and academic worlds of popular music studies throughout his career, publishing on a variety topics ranging from the history of the recording industry and music business to blues, rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and much more. Sanjek was also a constant presence at IASPM-US conferences, where he engaged in lively Q&A with panelists and audience members, always furthering and pushing the discussion in interesting and enlightening directions. It is in this spirit of intellectual dialogue and enrichment that the Graduate Student Paper Prize has been named in honor of David Sanjek since 2012.

Eligibility: Any student who presents, in person, a formal paper at the IASPM-US meeting is eligible for the prize. A student shall be defined as a person pursuing an active course of studies in a degree program. This includes persons who are engaged in writing the doctoral dissertation but not those who are teaching full-time while doing so. Student applicants must be members of IASPM-US.

Application Process: To apply for the prize, candidates must electronically submit a copy of their paper as it will be presented at the conference along with a brief bio (75 words) and copy of their conference registration receipt. Paper submissions should be in Word or pdf format. The paper deposited is to be the version that is read at the conference and may not exceed twelve double-spaced pages (roughly 3,900 words). The Sanjek Paper Prize committee will announce specific deadlines and submission information in advance of the annual conference.


Tamar Ballard, Virginia Tech

Tamar Ballard is a Ph.D. student in sociology at Virginia Tech. She grew up in various places just shy of Atlanta, Georgia, and credits childhood bike rides listening to music as integral to how she hears music. Her research centers on blending Black feminist theory, queer of color critique, performance studies, and sociological frameworks to explore Black popular music and performance. 

Compellingly written and provocatively argued, Ballard’s paper, “I Just (Really) Wanna Feel Myself/Something” : Queering Internet Time and the Black Spectacular," demonstrates how Denzel Curry and Childish Gambino use their music to challenge the objectification of Blackness online by pushing back against the impulse to quickly, constantly scroll that has come to define the modern internet. In particular, Ballard theorizes a conception of time that bridges the gap between real and virtual spaces, one that she demonstrates can be heard within the music itself. The Sanjek Prize Committee was especially impressed with Ballard’s nuanced analysis and her compelling mix of methodologies, which borrowed from Black studies, queer studies, sociology, and popular music studies.


2022: Cibele Moura, Cornell University: "'O Proibid√£o Do Bolsonaro:' The New Right's Cannibalization of Transgression

2021: Lee Kimura Tyson: "Trans Vocal Authenticity and SOPHIE's Hyperreal Voices"

2020: Conference and awards canceled because of Covid-19 pandemic

2019: Kyle DeCoste. “Music All Up and Down the street: Listening to Childhood in James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man”

2018: Ryan Shuvera. “Southern Sounds, Northern Voices: Distorting Borders Through Country Music”

2017: Peter Graff. “Seven-Eleven at The Globe: Articulating Black Identity in 1920s Cleveland”

2016: Amy Coddington. “‘Hip-hop, Got Turned Into Hit Pop’: How Crossover Radio Stations Influenced the Growth of Rap in the Late 1980s”

2015: Mandy Smith. “Drumming Is My Madness’: The Primitive in Late 1960s Rock Drumming”

2014: Yvonne Liao. “Port sounds: Jazz(-scapes) in 1930s and 1940s Shanghai”

2013: Elliott H. Powell. “Hip Hop’s South Asian Disembodied Voice: Sampling, Temporality, and the Career of Raje Shwari”

2012: Kathryn A. Ostrofsky. “Taking Sesame to the Streets”

2011: Elizabeth De Martelly. “Gay Play: Gay for Johnny Depp and the Performance and Consumption of Ambiguous Sexualities”

2010: Brian Fauteux. “‘New Noise’ versus the Old Sound: Manifestos and the Shape of Punk to Come

2009: David Blake. “Internet Music Criticism as Archive: Pitchfork Media and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea

2008: Vilde Aaslid. “The Rise of the Jazz Lament”

2007: Till Krause. “Radio Goethe: State-Supported Cultural Export of ‘German Popmusik’ to the USA as a Tool of Cultural Diplomacy”

2006: Maria Sonevytsky. “Leather, Metal, Wild Dances: Ukrainian Pop’s Victory at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest and the Politics of Auto-Exoticism”

2005: N/A (No Conference)

2004: Shana Goldin-Perschbacher “Meshell Ndege√¨Ocello and Black Female Masculinity”

2002:  (1) Elaine Hayes. “Chirps, Chickadees, and an Occasional Shouter” (2) Jacob Smith. “Dance Dance Revolution” (3) Lisa Soccio “The Newest ‘Very New Music’: From Duchamp’s Musical Errata and Fluxus at Weisbaden to Post-Rock in Chicago”

2001: N/A (No Conference)

2000: Christina Baade. “‘Victory through Harmony’: Dance Music for Workers in Wartime Britain”

1999: (1) Theo Cateforis. “Welcome to Poptopia: Power Pop and the Mining of Rock’s Past” (2) Jason Hanley. “NEO GEO: Ryuichi Sakamoto and the Globalization of Music” 

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