Camella Pham, Guarini '23, Wins American Comparative Literature Associations's Top Thesis Honor

Camella Pham, Guarini '23, has been awarded the American Comparative Literature Association's Presidential Master's Prize for Best Master's Thesis for "Colonial Translation Turned Vietnamization: Pham Quỳnh and the Discourse of Transculturation".

The award honors comparative work broadly construed at the level of a master's thesis. The work is judged on theoretical rigor, comparative breadth, and lucidity of exposition with an emphasis on work that is engaged in comparison across linguistic boundaries.  

"The ACLA Presidential Master's Prize is undeniably the most prestigious award I have received since embarking on my higher education journey in the U.S. Personally, this award serves as a testament to the exceptional support and mentorship I have received at both my undergraduate institutions and Dartmouth," said Pham.

Growing up in Vietnam immersed in multiple languages, including Vietnamese, French, English, and Chinese, Pham often pondered the abstract nature of language and its emotive power. Vietnam, with its many languages, was a perfect place to study how the interplay of languages created a "complex nexus of negotiations and transformations." Pham's thesis examines how "translation in colonial Vietnam played a pivotal role in the colonial and post-colonial periods as various factions "weaponized languages and scripts to serve their divergent aims."

Pham chose Dartmouth because of the breadth of faculty research specialization and their strong mentorship. "Dartmouth has all the faculty mentors whose research specializations are invaluable for the development of my intended project on colonial Vietnamese literature, which is marked by linguistic contestations and ideological interactions among various parties," said Pham. 

She credits the unwavering encouragement and tireless mentorship of her professors with her success winning the prestigious award. In the future, Pham hopes to enroll in a doctoral program in comparative literature with a focus on critical translation studies in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. 

Read the complete interview.