Established by the American Council of Learned Societies in 1891, this award is now administered by the American Academy of Religion. The winner receives $1,000 and recognition in a variety of AAR publications. View a list of past winners.
Eligible books must meet the following criteria:
Competition for the AAR Best First Book in the History of Religions is open to all books that meet the criteria listed above. An author’s membership in the AAR is not a necessary condition for successful participation. One award is given per category per calendar year, provided the critical number of books for consideration is received in that particular category.
A complete submission includes (1) a letter of nomination and (2) a copy of the nominated book mailed to the AAR office. Partial submissions will not be considered by the juries. All correspondence regarding the competition and copies of all books nominated should be directed in the first instance to the AAR office at the address listed below.
Nominations may be submitted by any person, publisher, or institution with the exception of the competition chair and jurors. AAR especially encourages letters of nominations from colleagues and self-nominations.
A brief rationale should be enclosed with each nomination; this is considered the nomination letter. What makes the book an outstanding first monograph? What about the book signifies the promise of the author’s further contributions to the field? How does the submission affect the way you approach research, consider a tradition, or construct your teaching? Letters of nomination may be sent by mail or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publisher-generated nominations must identify someone in their publishing house who will serve as contact. AAR will ask that additional copies be sent to jury members if the book is shortlisted for consideration.
If requested, publishers will often send a review copy to the AAR office for the purposes of award consideration. A copy of each nominated book should be sent directly to the AAR office at the following address:
American Academy of Religion
Attn: Best First Book Award
825 Houston Mill RD NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
The next award cycle will open in December 2020.