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 (2002)
1. JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE: best book of 2001 in any field of British studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.
WINNER: Jonathan Lamb, Preserving the Self in the South Seas, 1680-1840 (University of Chicago Press).
Jonathan Lamb's engaging study of the encounter between British explorers and the peoples of the South Seas in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is crafted as beautifully as it is illustrated. An impressive command of the texts and controversies of politics, of economics and less dismal sciences, as well as works of fiction and travel accounts, underlies Lamb's discovery of domestic unease in the romance of the South Seas. The author's familiarity with a variety of interpretive traditions and methods offers a superb lesson in the value of a genuinely interdisciplinary approach - often claimed but not always delivered - to the field of early modern cultural studies.
2. BRITISH COUNCIL PRIZE: best book of 2001 on any aspect of British studies since 1800.
WINNER: Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (Yale University Press, 2001).
Rose's subject is the reading habits of the autodidact tradition within the British working class from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. It is a study of what working people read, and of what they made of it. Employing over 2,000 autobiographical documents of the British working class, as well as library and educational archives, oral histories and Mass Observation surveys, Rose explores three main themes. The first is the cultural conservatism of the autodidact tradition. In just about every story of a life transformed by reading, the cultural diet is the mid-Victorian classical canon: Defoe, Scott, and Dickens; Macaulay and Gibbon; Milton and Tennyson; Carlyle and Ruskin, all picked up from second-hand bookstalls. The second theme is the liberating effect of great literature, however freighted with ideological baggage. Imaginations were stirred, horizons expanded even by texts that were patriarchal, authoritarian, or racist. Readers wanted the best of traditional humanistic culture, not a selection of approved texts, even from WEA and Ruskin tutors. The third theme is the unpredictability of readers' responses. Readers were commonly able to recognize and allow for those features of stories that are too readily thought to contribute to 'social control' or 'cultural hegemony.' In all, it is a story of emancipation through the creation of an autonomous intellectual life. It asks what difference did the autodidact tradition make; what brought the tradition to an end? As such, Rose's book is of major significance for British social and cultural history.
HONORABLE MENTION: Christopher Herbert, Victorian Relativity: Radical Thought and Scientific Discovery (University of Chicago Press, 2001)
The book traces the roots of relativistic thinking, the development of the relativistic imagination. It shows that the principle that nothing exists but relations formed the basis of Victorian speculation in almost every field of mental enterprise. The theory of relativity in physics, Herbert argues, is inextricably bound up with ethical, cultural, and epistemological relativism. He also argues that the development of the relativity principle in the nineteenth century was intertwined with themes of anti-authoritarianism and emancipationism. The book challenges the assumption that scientific discourse in any period is bound to express and reinforce dominant ideologies and established structures. As such, the study makes an important contribution to British intellectual, cultural, and political history.
3. WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE: for the best scholarly article of 2001 in any field of British studies.
WINNER: Barbara Donagan, "The Web of Honour: Soldiers, Christians, and Gentlemen in the English Civil War," Historical Journal, 44, 2 (2001), pp. 365-389.
In "The Web of Honour: Soldiers, Christians, and Gentlemen in the English Civil War," Barbara Donagan demonstrates how an internalized moral code among military adversaries acted as a force of both social stability and ultimate political reconciliation. Grounding her analysis on a wide range of primary sources, Professor Donagan shows how the honor of soldiers embodied both virtue and utility distinct from traditional notions of chivalry. With subtlety and grace, she evokes a lost world of male subjectivities carefully calibrated to preserve social hierarchy, Christian precepts, and the often brutal demands of military victory. Barbara Donagan’s "The Web of Honour" is a model of enlightened scholarship.
4. NACBS DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIPS:
NACBS DISSERTATION YEAR PRIZE: Angela Ellis (History Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Ms. Ellis's dissertation, entitled "In Defense of yr Hen Ffydd: Early Modern Welsh Catholicism on the Southern Anglo-Welsh Border," is a study of late 16th and early 17th century Catholicism in a previously neglected area of the British isles. Ellis asks important questions about the connection between religion and national identity in Early Modern Europe. Wales had a much different relationship to the English government than the other Celtic nations, and so acts as a strong counter-example to Ireland, in which Catholicism was connected with anti-English nationalism, and Scotland, where the Protestant Reformation forged a formal alliance, then union, with the English crown. Moreover, as she argues in her proposal, her study will refute the view of Catholicism and Protestantism "as binary opposites" and instead insist that "legitimate religious affiliations can exist along a spectrum of faith shaped by external, practical concerns" even in the age of bitter religious warfare.
NACBS DISSERTATION TRAVEL GRANT: Lia Pradis (History Department, Rutgers University)
Ms. Paradis's Dissertation, "Return Ticket: the Anglo-Sudanese and the Negotiation of Identity, 1920-1965," is an in-depth exploration of the lives of Britons who served the British Empire in Sudan and then returned to the mother country after independence. In addition to focusing on the relatively understudied African empire, Paradis centers on issues of identity, interrogating the assumption that British identity is immutable. Because the Anglo-Sudanese population was a migrant one, she will discuss in detail their inevitably hybrid identity and will add yet more strands to the complicated story of British de-colonization.
5. NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP:
WINNER: Christina M. Carlson (English Department, University of Chicago)
Ms. Carlson's dissertation, "From Contract to Consent: Anti-Popery as ‘Social Contract' in the Satirical Prints and Literary Satires of the Seventeenth Century in England," addresses a topic both original and important: the emergence and significance of political and polemical cartoons in the 1640s and 1650s. By bringing visual culture into dialogue with work on literature and revolution, the project has the potential to be a resource as invaluable for seventeenth-century historians as those of Vincent Caretta or Ronald Paulson have been for scholars of the eighteenth century. This is a rigorously cross-disciplinary undertaking: to her training in early modern literature and contemporary literary theory, Ms. Carlson has added coursework in history and in art history and the history of printmaking. Having completed significant research in the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Cromwell Museum, the Pepys Library, the Roxburghe Society, and the Society of Antiquaries, Ms. Carlson proposes to consult the Granger Collection and other print collections at the Huntington Library. It is gratifying to be able to support a project of such theoretical sophistication and broad consequence.