Saint Vincent College student Paul Weisser is the 2019 national winner of the Bert and Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science.
Weisser, a junior philosophy and politics major from Red Lion (York Catholic High School), submitted an essay entitled “I Believe We are Lost: The Worst Casualties of the Great War,” which interprets Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” in light of the political philosopher Hannah Arendt’s essay “Origins of Totalitarianism.” In his comparison of the works of Remarque and Arendt, Weisser contends that the depiction of World War I in “All Quiet on the Western Front” constitutes a perfect example of the developments Arendt claimed were essential to the rise of totalitarian regimes in the interwar period.
“I was prompted to submit my paper by one of my professors, Dr. Jerome Foss, who encouraged several politics majors to submit essays for the prize,” explained Weisser. “I had written the piece for fun over Christmas break, because it combined several of my interests. I have always been fascinated by history, and this interest has been critical to my work with political theory.”
Foss, who is associate professor of politics, speaks highly of Weisser’s essays. “Everyone in the politics department is proud of Paul and his accomplishments,” said Foss. “That he should win the Lamb Prize as a junior is a testament to his embrace of the Benedictine hallmarks of discipline and humility. It is also a sign that we have a strong academic community here that stirs the souls of the precocious and provides them with the support to fully engage in the life of the mind. Paul was competing against political science majors from all over the country, from other liberal arts colleges and from large research universities. This is a wonderful indication that talented students like Paul are thriving at Saint Vincent College!”
Established in 2013, the Lamb Prize was established by Janice C. and Dr. Berton Lee Lamb in honor of their parents, who were strong advocates of education and believed that innovation, knowledge from a variety of fields and tenacity combined with honed writing and communication skills promoted good government. The five-person selection committee for the Lamb Prize was comprised of political scientists representing Idaho State University, Colorado State University, San Francisco State University, Washington State University and University of Illinois–Springfield.
Excerpts of their reviews on Weisser’s work were included in the official letter notifying him of his win. One reviewer remarked, “The Lamb Prize’s emphasis on good writing is well exemplified by Paul’s writing,” while another noted, “the lessons to be learned from this inquiry into the origins of totalitarian government move us to ponder the question of modern-day parallels.”
In winning the Lamb Prize, Weisser has received a $1,000 stipend along with travel expenses to attend the Western Social Science Association (WSSA) conference in San Diego, where he was officially recognized with the award and participated on a panel. Additionally, Weisser’s work will be published on the Lamb Prize website (www.lambprize.org) and distributed to the Lamb Prize Advisory Consortium along with more than 1,600 political scientists on the Lamb Prize’s newsletter distribution list.
Appreciative of the praise associated with winning the Lamb Prize, Weisser feels that this honor has legitimized his writing and will hopefully aid in his future goals. After his senior year, he plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a doctorate.