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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 (2014)

Prize List (see details below)

NACBS/Huntington Fellowship: Catherine Medici-Thiemann, University of Nebraska: “`She Governs the Queen’: Jane Dudley, Mary Dudley Sidney, and Catherine Dudley Hastings’ Political Actions, Agency and Networks in Tudor England.”

Dissertation Year Fellowship: Benjamin Hicklin, University of Michigan: "`Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be’? Experiencing Credit and Debt in the English Atlantic, 1660-1750"

Dissertation Year Travel Grant: Joshua Ehrlich, Harvard University: “Empire of Letters: An Intellectual History of the East India Company”; Jessica Walker, Johns Hopkins University: “`The Daughter of Time’: Contemporary Representations of Mary Tudor as Regnant Queen and Catholic Monarch in England, Ireland and Spain”

Walter Love Prize: Henry Cowles, Yale University: "A Victorian Extinction: Alfred Newton and the Evolution of Animal Protection,” British Journal for the History of Science 46, 4 (December 2013)

John Ben Snow Prize: Frances Dolan, University of California, Davis: True Relations: Reading, Literature and Evidence in Seventeenth-Century England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

Stansky Book Prize: Deborah Cohen, Northwestern University: Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013)

John Ben Snow Prize 

Frances Dolan, University of California, Davis: True Relations: Reading, Literature and Evidence in Seventeenth-Century England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013)

In this ambitious work, Frances Dolan reminds us that our own contemporary reading practices are grounded in seventeenth-century innovations that paired the notion that the 'real' is constructed with a methodology that demanded multiple interpretive maneuvers. For Dolan, the trope of 'true relations' in the seventeenth century signaled the idea that texts were understood to be both truthful and relational, bound up in the scientific, religious, and social transformations of the period.  Dolan illuminates the subjective practice of reading by re-examining sources ranging from narratives of the Gunpowder Plot and the Great Fire of London to conduct manuals, depositions, and drama. In so doing, she successfully reminds us that reading was, in a very material sense, dependent upon the reader's social relationship to the storyteller, the tale, and the wider cultural constellations through which each text circulated. Dolan's interdisciplinary approach to her subject challenges us to confront the stakes in our own modes of identifying and using 'evidence' and the wider social and intellectual relations that such use reveals or conceals--a timely and significant achievement.

The Stansky Book Prize 

Deborah Cohen, Northwestern University: Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Engagingly written and masterfully narrated, this completely original book draws on new archives and an immense range of historiographies to tell a poignant and powerful story about privacy and secrecy spanning two and a half centuries. Professor Cohen makes family and family dynamics central to understanding modern Britain, not through the familiar focus on relations between husband and wife or even between parents and children but through exploring the family’s boundaries – how matters potentially threatening to family harmony and stability were understood and handled over time.  To conceal or reveal, and how to manage each, were perennial problems for families, particularly in the middle and upper classes, confronted by illegitimacy, divorce, homosexuality, or disabled or adopted children. Combining thorough research with deep empathy for her subjects and a powerful synthetic imagination, Cohen eschews a single overarching pattern, instead portraying a more complex picture of how the nature of “family privacy” altered over time. This book is destined to become required reading for historians of the family, specifically, and modern Britain more generally while also influencing public discussions about the contemporary meanings of “privacy.”

Walter Love Prize

Henry Cowles, Yale University: "A Victorian Extinction: Alfred Newton and the Evolution of Animal Protection,” British Journal for the History of Science 46, 4 (December 2013)

In this beautifully balanced article, Henry Cowles shows that the concept of extinction assumed its familiar, modern form in a particular Victorian context by examining the work of Alfred Newton, a Cambridge professor and early adopter of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Newton reimagined extinction, not as an event in the geological past, but as an observable process in the present, one that might destroy species without creating new ones as Darwin’s theory insisted it should.  This insight had the effect of transforming naturalists from catalogers of comparative morphology into policy experts, advising politicians on the effects of human action on the natural world.  By distinguishing sharply between the sentimentality that led people to oppose cruelty to individual animals and the rational science that led people to oppose the extermination of animal species, Cowles shows how Newton legitimized animal protection among England’s intellectual elite.  The result was both the first legislation to protect animals that were not obviously useful to human beings, the 1869 Sea Bird Protection Act, and the emergence of the modern idea of extinction itself as a process that could result from distinctly unnatural causes, rather than the unfitness of particular species for survival in a Darwinian world.

Dissertation Fellowship

 Benjamin Hicklin, University of Michigan: "`Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be’? Experiencing Credit and Debt in the English Atlantic, 1660-1750"

Benjamin Hicklin’s dissertation explores the ‘lived experience’ of credit and debt in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century British Empire, focusing especially on the extension of credit from English merchants to Jamaicans and Pennsylvanians between the Glorious Revolution and the onset of the Seven Years War. In it, he explores how ordinary people living in the British Empire in this period dealt with the presence or absence of money. And he does so in both transatlantic and comparative contexts, showing, along the way, how the evolution of an English credit culture took place not only in England but also within a circulatory and interactive oceanic marketplace. 

Dissertation Travel Grants 

5a) Joshua Ehrlich, Harvard University: “Empire of Letters: An Intellectual History of the East India Company”

Joshua Ehrlich’s dissertation offers an intellectual history of the East India Company by considering the ways in which the notion of an ‘empire of letters’ figured prominently in the ideology of the company and its critics. In undertaking this project, Ehrlich plans to show how the British variant of Enlightenment endured longer than its continental counterparts in both Britain and South Asia. By examining a range of published and archival sources, this work, when completed, will frame both the East India Company and the British Empire in South Asia within a broader, global and late-Enlightenment framework. 

5b) Jessica Walker, Johns Hopkins University: “`The Daughter of Time’: Contemporary Representations of Mary Tudor as Regnant Queen and Catholic Monarch in England, Ireland and Spain”

Jessica Walker’s dissertation illuminates the construction and representation of female monarchy in early modern Europe by analyzing both English and international portrayals of

Mary Tudor as the first woman to rule England in her own right and as a Catholic monarch in the midst of the Reformation. What especially distinguishes her work is the extraordinarily wide range of sources she will consider and her proposed focus on analyzing the images of Mary that were issued internationally in Ireland and Spain, as well as in England. Her dissertation thus functions simultaneously as a sophisticated exercise in political, religious, intellectual, cultural, gender and international history.

NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship

Catherine Medici-Thiemann, University of Nebraska: “`She Governs the Queen’: Jane Dudley, Mary Dudley Sidney, and Catherine Dudley Hastings’ Political Actions, Agency and Networks in Tudor England.”

Catherine Medici-Thiemann proposes to come to the Huntington to conduct research on the topic of women’s political power and influence at the court of Elizabeth I, an endeavor that will feed into her doctoral dissertation on the lives of Jane Dudley, Mary Dudley Sidney, and Catherine Dudley Hastings. Medici-Thiemann’s proposal was exemplary in the rigor with which she conducted her preliminary research into the Huntington’s collections, specifically identifying a significant tranche of material in the Hastings papers that will assist her substantially as she undertakes the reconstruction of the gendered political networks that lie at the heart of her project. The selection committee congratulates her on this significant achievement and the staff at the Huntington looks forward to welcoming her to the library in the near future.

PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS

The winners of the prize and fellowship competitions are announced at the NACBS annual conference. Previous winners of recent competitions are available below: