2022 Winner of the GSA Prize for the Best Essay in German Studies by a Graduate Student: Qingyang Freya Zhou (University of California-Berkeley): “‘A Temporality of Imminent, Never-Consummated Arrival’: Contemporary German Documentaries on North Korea” 



Zhou’s essay uses close readings of contemporary documentaries to re-assess socialist experiments in the 20th century, as well as to illuminate the status of political documentary in the 21st. The stakes of the argument and the importance of Zhou’s intervention into scholarship on contemporary documentary are immediately clear and Zhou’s transnational analysis (two Germanies/two Koreas) is especially noteworthy given that it is very difficult to do nuanced, accurate, in-depth transnational analysis that preserves important historical and cultural differences while also creating compelling synchronicities or affinities between the nations/places discussed. Zhou’s paper does just that, while it is also multi-vectored, as she considers affinities and ruptures between portrayals and perceptions of the two Germanies and the two Koreas in different eras. In other words, the paper is spatially and temporally complex while also displaying coherence and accessibility. The readings of the individual films are masterfully done; they are specific even as they develop broader themes (such as the similarities and differences between German and Korean notions of “home” and the ways in which the film My Brothers and Sisters in the North is and is not a Heimatfilm). The committee congratulates Qingyang Freya Zhou on this impressive contribution to transnational German Studies.