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 (2003)
1. JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE: best book of 2002 in any field of British studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.
WINNER: David Kuchta, University of New England, The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity: England, 1550-1850 (University of California Press, 2002)
David Kuchta’s book makes a timely and novel contribution to the emerging field of masculinity studies in the early modern and modern periods. In a work that is genuinely interdisciplinary, the author brings together the historiographies of political culture, gender ideology, class, and consumerism in order to understand how propertied Englishmen constructed their identities and, over time, constantly renegotiated their place in English society. Kuchta offers exciting perspectives on the complex subject of patterns of consumption in the years between 1550 and 1850, and his command of a wide range of primary and secondary sources enables him to shed new light on the ways in which men – and women – acted as agents in the making of an English aesthetic. The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity is a fine work, and one that will retain its freshness and originality for many years to come.
2. NACBS BOOK PRIZE: best book of 2002 on any aspect of British studies since 1800.
WINNER: Nicoletta F. Gullace, University of New Hampshire, "The Blood of Our Sons": Men, Women, and the Renegotiation of British Citizenship during the Great War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).
No historian has convincingly explained why the granting of women’s suffrage was conceded so readily in 1918, when only four years before the issue seemed far from resolution. The other Edwardian crises, especially Ireland, were resolved neither so quickly nor so peaceably. What, asks Gullace, "facilitated this embrace of women's suffrage?" Was it simply a "reward" for war service? Gullace seeks her own answer in the cultural environment created by the war, which, she argues, "reconfigured the way Britons understood the rights and obligations of citizenship." Women’s suffrage was forged in the crucible of war, where citizenship, male and female, was increasingly defined by the ability to wage war. Patriotism rather than manhood became the essential qualification for citizenship. Female patriotism "gave women a powerful language with which to lay claim to the war."
The book presents an excellent balance of secondary and primary material. It explores culture and politics; it explores perceptions as well as reality. Above all, it does not shy away from the conclusion that pro-war women were responsible for British feminists’ most significant victory. Gullace shows how the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which granted the parliamentary vote to women over 30, rested upon feminism’s patriotic move to the right. The logic that justified enfranchisement on the basis of military service, she argues, considerably bolstered the women’s case. The sexual basis of the parliamentary vote was undercut; service, not sex, entitled Britons to vote.
3. WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE: for the best scholarly article of 2002 in any field of British studies.
WINNER: Margaret Sankey (Auburn University) and Daniel Szechi (Auburn University): "Elite Culture and the Decline of Scottish Jacobitism 1716-1745," Past and Present 173 (Nov. 2001).
Setting out to explain the long-term decline of Jacobitism among the Scottish landowning classes between the 1715 and 1745 risings, the authors eschew the usual economic and political explanations and instead emphasize the crucial importance of social factors, specifically the strong cultural and social ties between the Jacobite elite and their Whig peers. Drawing on a wide range of printed and manuscript sources, Sankey and Szechi skillfully demonstrate the complex network of social relations that existed between Scottish landowners, contacts which often crossed over political and religious boundaries. Ties of friendship, marriage, common culture and values meant that Jacobite families could appeal to their Whig friends to intervene with the government on their behalf, protect their estates, and ensure their return from banishment. This in turn created new ties of obligation which many Jacobite families were reluctant to break in 1745. The article is especially significant in pointing out how binary opposites, in this case Whig/Jacobite and Presbyterian/Episcopal can obscure the true complexity of political relationships among the elite, and in urging historians to look beyond such categories when attempting to understand the motivations and actions of particular social groups.
4. NACBS DISSERTATION FELLOWSHIPS:
NACBS DISSERTATION YEAR PRIZE: Amy Milne-Smith (University of Toronto)
Ms. Milne-Smith's dissertation on London gentleman's clubs, 1860-1914, takes a fresh look at these traditional bastions of upper-class male life in Victorian England. The dissertation creatively questions how clubs contributed to constructions of aristocratic manhood and how they responded to perceived threats from the middle class as well as changing gender expectations. This study of gentleman's clubs, which lay at the "intersection of the public world of politics and business" and "the private concerns of comfort and conviviality", will offer an important perspective on definitions of power and class and constructions of masculinity and femininity in the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
NACBS DISSERTATION TRAVEL GRANT: Deborah Hughes (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Ms. Hughes's dissertation, "Exhuming the Pharaoh: The Discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb and British Imperial Culture," uses both British and Egyptian sources to examine the events surrounding the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. Creatively combining a variety of approaches to her study, Ms. Hughes traces both the effects on imperial policy in British Mandated Egypt and the impact on material culture--a nostalgic "Egyptomania" in England--of the Tutankhamun discovery. The discovery significantly affected imperial policy, suggesting an interdependency between science and the administration of Empire. The dissertation will make an important contribution to our understanding of British imperial politics and culture during the interwar period.
5. NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP:
WINNER: Abigail Swingen (University of Chicago), "The Politics of Labor and the Origins of the British Empire, 1650-1720"
Historians of American slavery — notably Edmund S. Morgan and David Eltis — have recognized fluctuations in the supply of "unfree" labor from Britain and Ireland (both convict and indentured) as one of the crucial factors in the wholesale shift toward slave labor in North America and the West Indies; however, there has been surprisingly little analysis of the British and Irish context for these fluctuations. For this reason alone, Abigail Swingen’s dissertation (and, eventually, book) on "The Politics of Labor and the Origins of the British Empire, 1650-1720" is bound to have a major impact on British, American, and Atlantic history. The committee is especially impressed with her grasp of the ideologically charged debates over demography and political economy in later Stuart England, and with her attention to telling details. We also find her proposal to be lively and engaging, and note that the Huntington Library is the only repository for several archival sources necessary for the completion of her research.