The official publication of the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), the Journal of British Studies, has positioned itself as the critical resource for scholars of British culture from the Middle Ages through the present. Drawing on both established and emerging approaches, JBS presents scholarly articles and books reviews from renowned international authors who share their ideas on British society, politics, law, economics, and the arts. In 2005 (Vol. 44), the journal merged with the NACBS publication Albion, creating one journal for NACBS membership.
NACBS Awards (2001)
1. JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE: best book of 2000 in any field of British studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.
WINNER: Keith Wrightson, (Department of History, Yale University) Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
Wrightson's comprehensively conceived and beautifully written account of "the processes of economic [and social] change” [p.xi] in England, Scotland and Wales between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries reminds us of the value in stepping back periodically from narrow specialist articles and monographic research to survey and reassess the advances in our understanding of this transformative period. Supported by extended bibliographical essays for each chapter (though without footnotes, an approach consistent with the series in which this volume appears), Wrightson's overview takes us from a traditional, rural, predominantly agricultural, and socially regulated "commonwealth" to "the gradual creation of an integrated national economy in which market relationships were the central mechanism." [Wrightson's on-line response to Nigel Goose's IHR e-review, April 2001].
In elegantly simple, jargon-free, and accessible prose, Wrightson combines the broad sweep of his primary narrative with the telling individual examples that firmly ground impersonal social and economic change in the everyday lives of real men and women. Here are enclosures, inflation, demographic change, regional specialization, capital accumulation, urban development, and emerging markets; but here too are the London stationer and his wife at work in their stall by daybreak, the Worcestershire husbandman whose worldly goods boast three boards for a bed, a large brass pan, and a tub, the Edinburgh refugee camp set up in Greyfriars churchyard during a Scottish famine, and the despairing cry of unemployed cloth worker Richard Hammond with five hungry children and too much pride to seek poor relief--"I can make shift no longer."
Through its careful integration of economic development with the "new" social history, Earthly Necessities makes a powerful, learned, and up-to-date case for a master narrative of transformation--something that has become quite unfashionable in these post-revisionist years. It will make scholars in various fields think again about the kind of frame in which they set their histories.
2. BRITISH COUNCIL PRIZE: best book of 2000 on any aspect of British studies since 1800.
WINNER: Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska (Department of History, University of Illinois at Chicago), Austerity in Britain: Rationing, Controls, and Consumption 1939-1955 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
In this persuasive, important and exhaustively-researched book, Ina Zwieneger-Bargielowska establishes the critical importance and significant consequences of consumption policies—and, in particular, of “rationing”—for Britain’s wartime and postwar governments. This book is impressive on many levels. First, it is wonderfully researched. The author has undertaken the very considerable work necessary to explain fully how Britain’s system of rationing worked from its inception in 1939 until its final abolition under the Tories, and to trace its economic and demographic effects. Those effects were, she shows, very largely positive: public health improved, and class inequalities narrowed. Yet the author does not let the story rest there, for the rationing system was, as she shows, intensely political. By the late forties, rationing was the subject on which parties differentiated themselves most clearly. Conservatives had come to be sharply critical of restrictions on consumer choice; Labour continued to stress full employment and "fair shares" out of ideological conviction. Neither these political choices nor the consequences of these choices can be understood without attention to gender, Zwieneger-Bargielowska argues; and it is in the way she has appropriated gender analysis that the book is most original and successful.
Wartime and post-war consumption policies, Zwieneger-Bargielowska shows, always differentially affected and were differently received by women and men. Labour’s full-employment policies were critically important to men, but women bore most of the costs of rationing. Women did most of the standing in lines, adjusting to substitutes, and going short themselves in order to give their families more; they waged a constant, subterranean campaign for cosmetics and stockings—goods seen as frivolous by Labour’s puritanical leadership but that remained important markers of femininity and sources of self-respect for women in the grey, post-war world. Women’s initial willingness—even eagerness—to sacrifice convenience for equality contributed to Labour’s 1945 victory; their later disaffection helps account for the 1951 and 1955 losses. In its ability to see women’s many small-scale preferences and choices as both quantifiable and meaningful, Zwieneger-Bargielowska has transformed our understanding of one of the key turning points of modern British politics.
HONORABLE MENTION: Erika Diane Rappaport (Department of History, University of California at Santa Barbara), Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).
Does shopping liberate women? In this brilliant and unconventional book, Erika Rappaport traces the complex, often scarcely acknowledged battles among commercial traders, husbands, judges and early feminists, for the loyalty and patronage of middle-class women with money and time on their hands in London in the late nineteenth century. Astute entrepreneurs like William Whiteley and Gordon Selfridge made their fortunes by recognizing that late-Victorian middle-class women wanted shopping to be pleasurable but predictable, safe but stimulating—and hence began to provide the kinds of amenities (everything from tea rooms to public toilets) that would turn shopping into a respectable leisure activity. Theirs was a risky venture: moralists complained they were undermining domestic ideals; judges ruled they were defrauding men by extending credit to impressionable wives. Yet from these uncertain and contested beginnings was born a West-End consumer culture that we can still recognize today—a culture that both catered to and, in important ways, constrained women. Exploiting sources ranging from department store archives to traders’ journals, from court records to popular plays, Rappaport outlines the emergence and crucial lineaments of this culture—and yet, while admitting its growing dominance, she keeps an eye open for points of contestation. Women’s organizations, she notes, responded ambivalently to this commercial world: women-owned clubs and restaurants sprang up to cater to weary shoppers; stores fought back by increasing their own amenities; women’s suffrage societies both patronized and attacked prominent West End stores. Women made the West End, and the West End in a sense "made" the modern woman, but in Rappaport’s clever and engaging account, no fortune lasts forever, no identity is fixed, and consumerism—for all its power—never has entirely the upper hand.
3. WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE: for the best scholarly article of 2000 in any field of British studies.
WINNER: Peter H. Hansen (Department of Humanities and Arts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute), "Confetti of Empire: The Conquest of Everest in Nepal, India, Britain, and New Zealand," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42, 2 (April, 2000): 307-322.
In "Confetti of Empire: The Conquest of Everest in Nepal, India, Britain, and New Zealand," Professor Peter H. Hansen shows how various nationalities appropriated for their own purposes a major achievement in mountain climbing. Masterfully synthesizing postmodern theory with detailed empirical research, Hansen reveals how various nationalist discourses displaced competing internationalist narratives concerning the conquest of Everest. He explores the complex relationship between tradition and individual accomplishment in the national celebrations of the expedition. Clearly organized and elegantly written, “Confetti of Empire” is a model of contemporary historical scholarship.
4. NACBS-DISSERTATION YEAR FELLOWSHIP:
WINNER: Michelle Wolfe, Department of History, Ohio State University, "'The House of Levi Apart and Their Wives Apart': The Social Transformation of Clerical Wives in Post-Reformation England, 1560-1700"
RUNNER-UP: Arianne Chernock, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley, "'Intellect Admits of No Sexual Distinction': Men in British Feminism, 1789-1832"
5. NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP:
WINNER: Robin Hermann, Department of History, Washington University, "The Crisis of Coin in Early Modern England"