The NACBS Blog
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How did you become interested in this topic?
I’m interested in why anybody outside of Britain should study British history. For a generation now, imperial history has offered a compelling answer to that question, but how else might we persuade deans and departments of the value of our field? When I read my colleague Barbara Weinstein’s AHA Presidential Address, “Developing Inequality,” I became interested in the role that British history played in modernization theory during the 1950s and 1960s. This outdated theory can’t say why anybody should Britain today, but it does point to why some people studied Britain in the not-too-distant past: because it purportedly blazed the trail to modernity that other nations must follow. Walt Rostow’s blockbuster polemic, The Stages of Economic Growth (1960), is often cited as the classic statement of this position, but when I read it I found that, not only did Rostow not make that claim, he repeatedly disavowed it. Britain, for Rostow, was not exemplary but peculiar. So I set out to understand, first, what role Britain actually played in Stages; second, how we had come to associate the book with something else entirely; and third, what is the significance, for historians wanting to make a case for studying – and staffing – British history, of the fact that this canonical text disavowed the applicability of the British case. I conclude that Rostow’s use of Britain offers a model after all: not because he (or we) could assert that all nations follow Britain’s path, but because he (and we) could use the British case to think about world historical development without recourse to that Anglocentric claim.
Did you encounter any unexpected problems or difficulties with your sources?
The main difficulty was the refusal of Stages to yield the answers I wanted. I was trying to write about how British history structured this influential scheme of world historical development, only to find repeated disavowals of that position instead – until, walking home one day having failed yet again to produce an NACBS paper, I realized, oh, right: that’s the article.
Does your project engage other disciplines? If so, which ones, and how?
The article aims to engage US historians, by drawing a distinction between American exceptionalism and American egocentrism: Rostow indulged the former but not the latter, since he could not conceive of world historical development without seriously engaging Britain. And it addresses intellectual historians, especially historians of Marxism, by analyzing modernization theory as a historically specific (namely, Cold War) effort to replace “class” with “nation” as history’s primary actor. I am grateful to Nils Gilman for helping me to see that.
Do you have any advice for graduate students and early career professionals as they begin research projects or embark upon the writing process?
Begin conference papers not with a date, but an idea; organize articles not around facts we don’t know, but problems we can’t explain; remember that topics don’t make arguments, authors do. I co-edit the journal Twentieth Century British History, along with Helen McCarthy and Adrian Bingham, and we often ask authors a version of this question: How do your specific findings change the way we think about some more general concern? Even though we all know it’s coming, most of us still need pushing to answer that one.
What did you find to be the most challenging part of the project?
Responding to the readers’ reports. For months I moaned about the impossibility and irrelevance of their demands. Little by little, though, I worked to address their criticisms, until finally realizing how much their generosity had improved an embarrassingly thin submission. Much credit goes to the editors of Modern Intellectual History, especially Charlie Capper, for seeing something worth encouraging in something pretty raw.
What are you working on next? Will you be pursuing related research questions or turning to something completely different?
I’m finishing a book on urban planning and the welfare state, Thatcher’s Progress. It asks why Margaret Thatcher’s government, before privatizing a single nationalized industry, set out to dismantle Britain’s pioneering new towns program; it argues that Thatcher recognized what historians have not, that the new towns constituted the spatial dimension of the welfare state. Structurally, the book follows Thatcher on a driving tour around Milton Keynes on the morning of September 25, 1979. Her hosts wanted to persuade her to continue the new towns program, and the book pauses at each stop to examine what happened – in successive chapters – to transport, planning, architecture, community, consulting, and housing in late-twentieth century Britain.
Guy Ortolano is an Associate Professor of History at NYU.
Posted by rdaily | Tags: social justice | 0 Comments
The North American Conference on British Studies, North America’s largest organization of scholars pursuing the study of Britain and the former British Empire, denounces President Trump’s executive order restricting travel of those from seven majority-Muslim countries and temporarily halting the admission of refugees.
With this statement, we join the large list of organizational members of the American Council of Learned Societies who have issued statements in recent days. We condemn this executive order for restricting freedom of movement, imperiling refugees, and furthering racism and religious bigotry.
We in British studies are keenly aware of the historical record of global infractions of rights that have often accompanied the aggrandizement of national and imperial interests. We also hold precious the historical precedents of safe freedom of passage, the sanctity of the rule of law and the conventions and protocols of a whole range of international agreements negotiated over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The present limitations of rights and freedoms imposed upon students, faculty and researchers are impediments to all scholarly communities and to the free exchange of ideas upon which our work as scholars and educators depends. Attacks on persons or groups, based upon their religious affiliation, sexual orientation or racial, gender or ethnic identities, are abhorrent to all who advocate debate, dialogue and lives of ethical purpose.
As British studies scholars, we stand fast with our colleagues and students in this hemisphere and in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We also pledge to uphold and sustain the pursuit and protection of the rights threatened by this executive order, both in our organizational life and in the institutions and communities in which we work.
Posted by rdaily under CFP, conference | Tags: 2017 | 0 Comments
CFP: 2017 Southern Conference on British Studies Annual Meeting-Dallas, TX, November 10-11.
Deadline for submission: April 1, 2017
The Southern Conference on British Studies solicits proposals for its 2017 meeting in Dallas, Texas, November 10-11. The SCBS will meet in conjunction with the Southern Historical Association.
The SCBS construes British Studies widely and invites participation by scholars in all areas of British history and culture, including the Empire or Commonwealth and the British Isles. We welcome both individual and panel submissions on any topic in British Studies, but especially on the theme of Utopias: Sacred and Secular. We invite papers that address this theme from a wide variety of perspectives, exploring religious, intellectual, imperial, political, social, and other dream worlds, as well as dystopias and other challenges to sacred and secular and visions of perfection.
Individual proposals should be no more than 250 words in length and include a short biographical statement. Panel proposals should be limited to 750 words and include a rationale for the panel as well as a brief description of each paper and participant. Proposals should be sent to Dr. Michael de Nie at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SCBS Charles Perry Graduate Student Prize ($250) will be awarded to the best paper presented at the conference by a graduate student. Entries must be received by October 27, 2017.
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The Midwest Conference on British Studies is proud to announce that its 64th Annual Meeting will be hosted by Webster University in St. Louis, MO, September 29-Oct 1, 2017. The keynote speaker will be Tammy Proctor of Utah State University, and the plenary address will be given by Jonathan Sawday from Saint Louis University.
The MWCBS seeks papers from scholars in all fields of British Studies, broadly defined to include those who study England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Britain's Empire and the Commonwealth from Roman Britain to the modern age. We welcome scholars from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including but not limited to history, literature, political science, gender studies, and art history.
We welcome proposals for panels (of three participants plus chair/commentator), roundtables (of four participants plus chair), poster sessions, and panels featuring the pre-circulation of papers among participants and audience members. We welcome proposals that:
* offer comparative analyses of different periods of British Studies, such as comparing medieval and early modern issues in context
* situate the arts, letters, and sciences in a British cultural context
* present new research on the political, social, cultural, and economic history of the British Isles
* examine representations of British and imperial/Commonwealth national identities, including the construction of identities shaped by race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and dis/ability
* consider Anglo-American relations, past and present
* examine new trends in British Studies
* assess a major work or body of work by a scholar
* explore new developments in digital humanities and/or research methodologies
* present professional development sessions on collaborative or innovative learning techniques in the British Studies classroom or on topics of research, publication, or employment relevant to British Studies scholars
The MWCBS welcomes presentations by advanced graduate students and will award the Walter L. Arnstein Prize for the best graduate student paper(s) given at the conference. A limited number of graduate travel scholarships will also be available, and all graduate students are encouraged to apply. Further details will be available on the MWCBS website: http://mwcbs.edublogs.org/
* Include a 200-word abstract for each paper and a brief, 1-page c.v. for each participant, including chairs and commentators.
* For full panels, also include a brief 200-word abstract for the panel as a whole.
* Please place the panel abstract, accompanying paper proposals, and vitas in one file and submit it as a single attachment. Also identify the panel’s contact person within the email.
All proposals should be submitted electronically by March 26, 2017, to the Program Committee Chair, Christine Haskill at email@example.com.
Program Committee: Carrie Euler, Central Michigan University; Christine Haskill, Chair, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University; John Krenzke, Tidewater Community College; Chad Martin, University of Indianapolis; Linda E. Mitchell, University of Missouri-Kansas City; J. Sunita Peacock, Slippery Rock University; Lacey Sparks, University of Kentucky. Visit the MWCBS website at http://mwcbs.edublogs.org/
The NACBS 2017 annual conference in Denver will include two special workshop sessions intended primarily for graduate students and early career scholars, with one on early modern bodies corporeal and rhetorical and one on cultures of imperialism. Please see CFP below.
Workshop: Cultures of Imperialism
NACBS Denver, Nov. 2017
Abstracts (1 pg.) and short (1-2 pg.) CV due March 30, 2017
Participants in this workshop will explore the many and multifaceted cultures of imperialism in Britain and its empire, from the early modern period to the postcolonial period. From the “discovery” of the new world at the start of the sixteenth century to the present, colonial and imperial engagements and entanglements have structured the movement of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and other British subjects, goods, and ideas as they traveled across the world. These moments of colonial contact have been transformative for those who were colonized as well as those who did the colonizing. In this workshop we welcome papers on the cultures of colonialism and empire. We seek research that addresses engagements and entanglements between those who moved between the British Isles and its trading posts and ports, settlements, mission stations and other sites of colonial contact. We encourage papers that work beyond the metropole-colony binary and examine forms of engagement that are transcolonial and transimperial, with the goal of thinking globally about the emergence of cultures of imperialism. We think of cultures in a broad way to consider political, legal, economic, environmental, and scientific cultures of imperialism and its analogue in the modern period, colonialism. We hope to open definitions of imperialism and colonialism to scrutiny as we consider the ways that Britain and its imperial territories were transformed by the history of intercultural contact. In choosing to organize this workshop from the early modern to the postcolonial, we aim to juxtapose the prenational formations of the early modern period against the national, international and globalized world of the early twenty-first century. How important or central are cultures of imperialism and colonialism in different time periods? How might we historicize the idea of coloniality and postcoloniality? How are ideas about cultural, racial, and ethnic differences generated? If we assume that colonial activity produced exploitation and political asymmetries, how were these asymmetries challenged, particularly by subject populations? As scholars of imperialism and colonialism, how important is it for historians to acts as judges (following Ginzburg)?
Papers on these issues – or on related topics that fit broadly within our aims – are welcomed, particularly from graduate students and early career scholars.
The session will feature 7-10 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages. All participants will be required to submit their papers by the last day of September, and to have read the entire session's papers in advance of the conference. Please send a one-page abstract and one-to-two page CV to Elizabeth Elbourne (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Durba Ghosh (email@example.com) by March 30, 2017.
Early Modern History Workshop: Bodies Corporeal and Rhetorical
NACBS Denver, Nov. 2017
Abstracts (1 pg.) and short (1-2 pg.) CV due March 3, 2017
Participants in this workshop will explore early modern bodies, both material and imagined. In early modern Britain, the human body served as an important cultural vehicle, the site or object upon which politics, medicine, literature, economics, religion, science, philosophy, and art could (and did) work. In this workshop we will explore early modern conceptions of the body, broadly defined: constructions of bodies politic, and bodies corporate; bodies of water and land; bodies of belief and faith; bodies of thought or knowledge. How do “bodies”, both material and rhetorical, enable us as historians to access early modern beliefs and practices, including ideas about violence, difference, colonial exploitation, ecological use, political and religious change, or racial and sexual norms? How did ideas about physical or corporeal bodies contribute to thinking about bodies of other things? As scholars of the period, are “bodies” useful to us and how can we problematize them in new ways? Papers on these issues – or on related topics that fit broadly within our aims – are welcomed, particularly from graduate students and early career scholars, and from scholars working and living in the UK.
The session will feature 7-10 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages. All participants will be required to submit their papers by the last day of September, and to have read the entire session's papers in advance of the conference. Please send a one-page abstract and one-to-two page CV to Amanda Herbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Olivia Weisser (email@example.com) by March 3, 2017.
Amanda Herbert and Olivia Weisser
Posted by rdaily | Tags: miniseries, pbs, Queen Victoria | 0 Comments
Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) stars as the young Queen Victoria at the outset of her epic reign, which set the stage for an entire era that would be named in her honor. Scripted by bestselling novelist Daisy Goodwin (The Fortune Hunter), this series follows Victoria from her accession to the throne at age 18, through her education in politics, courtship and marriage. Victoria features Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle) as Lord Melbourne; Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge) as the handsome Prince Albert; Alex Jennings (Churchill’s Secret) as Leopold I, King of Belgium; Paul Rhys (Borgia) plays Sir John Conroy, the rumored lover of Victoria’s mother the Duchess of Kent, a German princess played by German actress Catherine H. Flemming.
In Victoria, writer Daisy Goodwin imaginatively depicts what it was like for an ill-educated, emotionally deprived teenager to wake up one morning and nd that she is the most powerful woman in the world. Victoria will air in seven parts, on MASTERPIECE, beginning January 15, 2017 on PBS.
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The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites applications for the 2017 round of the Public Scholar Program, which is intended to support well-researched books in the humanities that have been conceived and written to reach a broad readership. Books supported through the Public Scholar Program might present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. Most importantly, they should present significant humanities topics in a way that is accessible to general readers.
The Public Scholar Program is open to both independent scholars and individuals affiliated with scholarly institutions. It offers a stipend of $4,200 per month for a period of six to twelve months. The maximum stipend is $50,400 for a twelve-month period. Applicants must have U.S. citizenship or residency in the U.S. for the three years prior to the application deadline. In addition, they must have previously published a book with a university or commercial press or at least three articles and essays in publications reaching a large national or international audience.
Application guidelines (including a full statement of the eligibility requirements) and a list of F.A.Q.'s for the Public Scholar Program are available on the NEH's website at http://www.neh.gov/grants/research/public-scholar-program. The application deadline for this cycle is February 1, 2017. Recipients may begin the term of the grant as early as September 1, 2017 or as late as September 1, 2018. In the last cycle of the competition, the Endowment received 318 applications and made 30 awards.
A list of previously funded projects and several samples of successful applications are available in the sidebar at the right of the webpage linked above. For additional information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We invite papers on any aspect of crime and punishment in Britain and its penal colonies between 1780 and 1925. We also welcome papers which include a comparative dimension with other times and places; papers on digital history, life- histories of prisoners and convicts. There will be dedicated space at the conference for those wishing to display research posters.
Please send an abstract of 200 words (for papers lasting no longer than 20 minutes), or panel proposals (3-5 speakers) by no later than 31st March 2017 to Lucy Williams (lwill@Liverpool.ac.uk) or Barry Godfrey (barry.godfrey@Liverpool.ac.uk)
Posted by rdaily under conference | Tags: annual meeting, cfp, Conferences | 0 Comments
NORTH AMERICAN CONFERENCE ON BRITISH STUDIES ANNUAL MEETING Denver, Colorado NOVEMBER 3-5, 2017
The NACBS and its affiliate, the Western Conference on British Studies, seek participation by scholars in all areas of British Studies for the 2017 meeting. We will meet in Denver, Colorado, November 3-5, 2017. We solicit proposals for panels on Britain, the British Empire and the British world. Our interests range from the medieval to the modern. We welcome participation by scholars across the humanities and social sciences.
We invite panel proposals addressing selected themes, methodology, and pedagogy, as well as roundtable discussions of topical and thematic interest, including conversations among authors of recent books and reflections on landmark scholarship. We are particularly interested in submissions that have a broad chronological focus and/or interdisciplinary breadth. North American scholars, international scholars, and Ph.D. students are all encouraged to submit proposals for consideration. Panels typically include three presenters, a commentator, and a chair; roundtables customarily have four presentations, as well as a chair; proposals which only include papers will be less likely to succeed. We are not able to accommodate individual paper proposals; those with paper ideas may search for additional panelists on lists such as H-Albion. Applicants may also write to the Program Chair for suggestions (email@example.com).
In addition to the panels, we will be sponsoring a poster session. The posters will be exhibited throughout the conference, and there will be a scheduled time when presenters will be with their posters to allow for further discussion.
All scholars working in the field of British Studies are encouraged to apply for the 2017 conference. Panels that include both emerging and established scholars are encouraged; we welcome the participation of junior scholars and Ph.D. candidates beyond the qualifying stage. To foster intellectual interchange, we ask applicants to compose panels that feature participation from multiple institutions. In an effort to allow a broader range of participants, no participant will be permitted to take part in more than one session in a substantive role. (That is, someone presenting or commenting on one panel cannot also present or comment on another, but individuals presenting or commenting on one panel may serve as chairs for other panels if need be.) Submissions are welcome from participants in last year’s conference, though if the number of strong submissions exceeds the number of available spaces, selection decisions may take into account recent participation.
All submissions are electronic, and need to be done in one sitting. Before you start your submission, you should have the following information:
- Names, affiliations and email addresses for all panel participants. PLEASE NOTE: We create the program from the submission, so please put the formal name of your university, not the local shorthand; names should be as they should appear on the program.
- A note whether data projection is necessary, desired, or unnecessary.
- A brief summary CV for each participant, indicating education, current affiliations, and major publications. (750 words maximum per CV.)
- Title and Abstract for each paper or presentation. Roundtables do not need titles for each presentation, but if you have them, that is fine. If there is no title, there should still be an abstract – i.e. “X will speak about this subject through the lens of this period/approach/region etc.”
- POSTERS: Those proposing posters should enter organizer information and first presenter information only.
All communication will be through the organizer, who will be responsible for ensuring that members of the panel receive the information they need.
The submission website at http://nacbs.org/conference will open in early January; submissions will close as of March 3, 2017.
If you have questions about the submission process or suggestions for program development, please contact:Krista KesselringNACBS Program ChairProfessor of HistoryDalhousie UniversityEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
British and Irish Studies Intelligencer
Call for Editors
conference, NACBS 2014
Grants and Awards
NACBS Membership Offers
- American Historical Association
- Institute of Historical Studies
- North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS)
- Royal Historical Society