Center Names Winner of the First JHP Student Research Paper Prize

Center Names Winner of the First JHP Student Research Paper Prize

In early May, the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies honored Alexander Gilliatt (GJS/JHP) as the first recipient of the newly-introduced JHP Student Research Paper Prize. Gabe Atkinson (HIS/JHP) received an honorable mention. Faculty members working with the Center expressed their excitement about the strong work that Appalachian State students are carrying out in these fields.


The annual JHP Student Research Paper Prize was launched by the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies during the 2020-21 academic year. The prize honors a student in a JHP cross-listed class in a given year, who has done exceptional work and contributed to the pursuit of Judaic, Holocaust and/or Peace Studies at Appalachian State University and beyond. In 2021, nominations came from the course instructors and were all diligently reviewed by a prize committee composed of Center affiliated faculty. The research paper prize includes a $250 cash prize. 


Alexander Gilliatt, the prize recipient, just graduated with a major in Political Science and a minor in JHP. He received the prize for his paper “English, Yinglish, and a Surviving Mother Tongue,” which he completed in Prof. Stephanie Yep’s Judaic Studies class. “Alex brings Yiddish to life, not only by peppering his paper with insightful and humorous examples of assimilations of Yiddish into the English language,” Professor Yep wrote in her nomination, “but by showing what makes Yiddish Jewish. Alex argues that Yiddish is veiled in its codedness yet ‘allows for a widespread understanding of the feeling a word exudes.’ He unravels features of irreverence and sarcasm embedded in the Yiddish language––features that lie at the center of performing Jewishness. Alex’s paper is compelling because it theorizes how and why Yiddish has survived despite being a language of the home and close community rather than that of high politics.” Gilliatt will remain at Appalachian State a bit longer, aiming at completing the Government and Justice Studies’ MA program and remaining involved with the Center. 


The honorable mention – also based on a unanimous vote by the prize committee – went to Gabe Atkinson, a senior and History Education major with a JHP minor, for his paper “Anti-Semitism At Home: A Look at the Origins of Anti-Semitism in the Armia Krajowa.” He recently completed the work in Prof. Thomas Pegelow Kaplan’s “Nazi Germany: History and Posthistory” class. The study focuses on the Polish Home Army and the alleged antisemitism of many of its members during the Second World War and the brutal German occupation of Poland. Well-researched and -argued, the paper questions the image of the AK as a “Jew-saving” formation and demonstrates that the early help for Jews was more of a byproduct of the AK’s resistance struggle and happened despite antisemitic tendencies in its ranks. The study downplays any impact of German propaganda and incentives and rather details how “home-grown” antisemitism with deep roots in Polish society played a decisive role in AK ranks. The paper, thus, makes a noteworthy contribution to the fierce debates over the Shoah in Poland, which recently escalated further, when leading scholars who remain critical of the current right-wing national-conservative Polish government and its memory politics were sued for their academic research and found guilty by a Polish court.


The Center is looking forward to more student achievements and prize winners in the years to come.


For more information, please contact the Center at 828.262.2311 or

Published: May 12, 2021 9:17am



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