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Minutes of the NACBS Business Meeting

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Minutes of the NACBS Business Meeting

Fri, Nov 11, 2016

Washington, DC

Present: Susan Pennybacker, Anna Clark, Paul Deslandes, Andrew Muldoon, Elizabeth Prevost, Keith Wrightson, Martin Weiner, Sandra den Otter, Krista Kesselring, Dane Kennedy, Philippa Levine, Reba Soffer.

The meeting came to order at 6:08 pm.

President’s remarks

Susan Pennybacker expressed her gratitude to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for hosting the NACBS plenary and reception.

Pennybacker reported that the Executive and Council had held productive meetings, with discussion focused on finance, vis two isssues: 1) the JBS editorship’s unexpected personnel change, and 2) staffing.  Holger Hoock’s shortened term as editor will bring with it the end of substantial resources provided by the University of Pittsburgh. The NACBS will not announce any funding up front before a new editor is named, but it needs to be prepared to subvent that person’s resources.  Pennybacker announced the formation of a search committee for the new editor, chaired by Anna Clark, and urged members to help with recruitment efforts.  Following a Council resolution, a financial committee will be formed to help advise the Treasurer on these financial questions and to set the budget. 

Pennybacker announced the formation of a rights task force, which has been charged with looking at race, LGTB, and international membership and conference inclusion relative to changing politics and locale. Pennybacker named the task force members and urged the membership to work with them.

There was a question from the floor about this year’s unusually high registration fees.  Executive members emphasized the cost of holding the annual meeting in large, attractive, expensive cities and noted that the NACBS does now offer financial assistance for graduate students and un/deremployed members to attend.  Moreover, the number of delegates for this meeting – 465 – hit a record high.  Pennybacker qualified that the NACBS had also gained 100 new members through registration for this meeting.  Discussion ensued about the costs and benefits of the high fee for the organization’s income.

Marty Weiner moved to adopt a policy that all surplus income from the conference be put toward the cost of the next year’s meeting.  The motion failed for lack of a second, but Andrew Muldoon will take the point under advisement with the new advisory committee.

Treasurer’s report

Andrew Muldoon reported that the NACBS’s finances were sound, and that its endowment was healthy.  His recommendation is to leave intact the endowment and current dividends that have been reinvested.  All told, the endoment’s current $650K generates $14-18K per year. At this point, the NACBS could reduce or halt new investments into the endowment if it wanted to direct that money to an expanded operating budget. If so, it could do so by freeing up vanguard funds.

There was a question from the floor about why it’s necessary to continue building the endowment if it’s already been grown. Muldoon responded that the endowment needs further cultivating to get to the point where it can fund more initiatives and release the NACBS from its sole dependency on CUP, membership, and conferences.  The new financial committee will poll and advise on these questions going forward, but for the present time, the Executive and Council has determined that they support using NACBS resources to fund mission-driven expenses.  Discussion ensued about the extent to which the endowment should be deployed to expand the organization’s initiatives. 

New business

Reba Soffer expressed thanks to the program committee, Executive Committee, and local arrangements workers for mounting an excellent conference.

The meeting adjourned at 6:39 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Elizabeth Prevost (Associate Executive Secretary)

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Getting to Know Lady Maria Nugent at the Huntington Library

 Thanks to the generosity of the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship, I spent October 2016 in the Huntington Library’s Ahmanson Reading Room, huddled over a cache of Lady Maria Nugent’s letters, which are essential sources for my dissertation. It was the first time I would see in person and touch a manuscript that Nugent – the fascinating, well-written, and well-traveled wife of Sir George Nugent, Commander-in-Chief of India from 1811-1815 – herself had touched. To view the hand-written pages of a woman I had spent so much time reading about on impersonal, published pages was thrilling. Getting up close and personal with Nugent’s letters and reading her sincere words gave me new perspectives on her imperial experience.

It was then, while bent over Nugent’s brisk, hurried letters, that it occurred to me how these seemingly simple pages had gone through quite the journey. Nugent was sitting in India when she scratched words to the page, regaling her adventures and misadventures on the subcontinent to Anna Eliza Grenville, the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos, her friend back in England. From Nugent’s hand, the letters had traveled overland and then undertaken a multi-month sea voyage before they arrived at the palatial Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, where they remained for a century. In the 1920s, the yellowed parchment ended up in sunny southern California, where a young woman from graduate school in New York was perusing them in 2016.

The global journey of Lady Maria Nugent’s letters mirrors the trans-regional scope of my dissertation. My research focuses on the British wives who accompanied their husbands on high-ranking posts across the empire during the Age of Revolutions. These women – like Lady Maria Nugent – left behind friends and family to do their wifely duty by supporting their husbands and traveling to faraway colonies in the Atlantic and Indian worlds. I am primarily interested in what my subjects actually did in their time abroad and what significance and meaning can be interpreted from their actions. My source base consists of the texts and documents that my subjects themselves produced, including their journals, letters, and artwork.

Lady Maria Nugent was my gateway into this project and she remains at the center of it. Born in New Jersey just before the American Revolution, Nugent would spend much of her life colony-hopping. From North America, her loyalist family would travel to Ireland before finally settling in England. After marrying George Nugent in 1797, she would undergo further journeys: to Jamaica from 1801-1805 as the Governor’s wife and, finally, to India. In both these locations, Nugent wrote incredibly rich and detailed journals to share with friends and family back in England.

Though her Jamaican and Indian journals have been published in various forms, her private letters have not - and many of them happen to be at the Huntington Library in the Stowe Collection. When the Nugents embarked for India, they left behind their four young children – including an infant who was only a few weeks old - in the care of their friends and relations. Over the course of her four-year absence, Nugent wrote frequent, long, and remarkably revealing letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos, who eventually took over the care of Nugent’s children.

While reading Nugent’s candid letters to her friend, I was struck by how emotional they are. More often than not, the pages are filled with the trauma of familial separation and longings of maternal reunion. While her journals make clear that the separation was difficult for Nugent, her letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos are much more emotionally candid. She wrote more specifically and deeply about her emotional state and the anguish of separation. She also gave elaborate instructions regarding childcare to the Duchess, demonstrating that though she was thousands of miles from her children, her maternal role was still important to her. Discussions about her longing for home and family sometimes outnumbered her descriptions of Indian life. Indeed, Nugent seemed to write of her experiences in India almost as a distraction from her heartache, and because she knew it was her duty as a good correspondent to keep Anna Eliza up-to-date on the goings-on in India. The letters were not, as I had expected, merely a record of life in India. They were also a moving, emotional testimony of a woman who felt as if her life had been split in two.

Accessing the manuscript letters at the Huntington Library has enabled me to think more holistically about Lady Maria Nugent and her experiences abroad. Though my research focuses on her social activities and practices in Jamaica and India, her letters to the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos also challenged me to think about the private and personal costs of imperial service. She was not just a body moving from one site to the next; she was also a human being whose mind and heart existed in multiple locations at once: though she was physically in India, England and the family life it represented for her were always at the forefront of her thoughts. The affective dimensions of her experience are just as important as the social, cultural, and political ones, and no less deserving of my scholarly attention. Without the generous support of the NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship that allowed me to excavate this collection, I may have overlooked this very human component of Lady Maria Nugent’s complicated imperial story.

Parissa Djangi is a PhD student in the Department of History at Stony Brook University. 

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2016 NACBS Grad Student Prize Winners’ Blog Post--Kevin Luginbill 

I think that I can say with some confidence that when I began my graduate work, I did not expect to end up with the dissertation project I now have. While I had always intended to study British imperial history, Joseph Chamberlain's 1903 tariff reform movement was probably not the first idea to come to mind. I first "discovered" tariff reform while reading the political memoir of the Tory politician Leopold Amery, a strident imperialist and an acolyte of Joseph Chamberlain. He described a speech Chamberlain had made in Birmingham, and spoke ecstatically about the speech's profound, world-shaking power and magnitude. At that point I knew I had to discover what was so gripping about a revision in British trade policy that it could be labeled “a challenge to free thought as direct and provocative as the theses which Luther nailed to the church door at Wittenberg.”

My work most closely related to the debates about the nature of British imperialism so central to the "new imperial history" of the last generation, so I was intrigued at how the rhetoric of empire was deployed by both tariff reform's advocates and its opponents. To Chamberlain and his ilk, it would be the first step in the creation of a cohesive imperial economic bloc, and the foundation of a grand project of the federation of the empire. To the tariff reform movement's detractors, it threatened to strike a blow at the central pillar of British greatness, the liberal principles of freedom, even in the guise of imperial rule. I was also surprised at how little attention Chamberlain's imperial reform movement has been given in recent years. In particular, I discovered a wealth of imperial rhetoric was deployed within these political debates, reflecting an impressive diversity of opinion about how Britons conceptualized and valued their empire. My dissertation project, tentatively titled "Building an Imperial World: Ideologies of Imperialism and the Tariff Reform Movement in Britain, 1900-1914," examines the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of British imperialism as articulated in the debates surrounding Joseph Chamberlain's tariff reform movement and the broader advocacy of imperial federation. Empire was quite clearly a central element of British society at the turn of the century, the "height" of European imperialism, but what the British Empire meant, what it should mean, and what it could become in the future, was always contested and reflected diverse and often contradictory ideologies of imperialism at work in the life of British society.

I had received funding from my university, Northern Illinois University, to conduct preliminary archival research in the summer of 2015, so I was able to build on that groundwork for my research in July-August 2016 that the NACBS's Pre-Dissertation Grant was funding. My first destination was the papers of Joseph Chamberlain, housed at the University of Birmingham's Cadbury Research Library. My experience there was nothing short of excellent. Every single one of their policies seemed designed to facilitate an easier and more productive research experience. Perhaps the most productive moments of my research were the result of the archive's staff retrieving folios and documents on their own initiative after having heard my description of project. It certainly resulted in the most unusual find, an illustrated anti-tariff reform-themed children's ABC book buried amongst a box of unsorted documents from the Chamberlain estate. Whether its sarcastic descriptions and disparaging renderings of Tory politicians and the tariff reform agenda resonated with an upcoming generation of future British voters remains uncertain, however.

More certain than that is the amount of research that I was able to complete because of the grant. Following my time in Birmingham, I proceeded to the University of Warwick, which holds the few surviving papers of the Tariff Reform League, and from there on to London. While there, I explored the papers of many British politicians in the Parliamentary Archives and the British Library, including its ever-expanding digital collection of newspapers. And finally, at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, I was able to access the papers of Richard Jebb, an imperialist thinker and reform advocate. One quite striking feature of this time in the archive was the extent to which the digital age has opened up possibilities for research. Whether ordering items ahead of time through an archive's computer system, browsing their online catalogs before arrival, or simply entering the archive armed with a digital camera, battery charger, and enough space on a memory card, the amount of research that can be carried out in a set amount of time seems to have grown exponentially. And in an era of diminishing funding opportunities, it makes grants such as those provided by the NACBS all the more important when it makes access to the archives for dissertation research possible.

Kevin Luginbill is a PhD Student in the department of history at Northern Illinois University.  

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IHR Conference Cancelled

Posted by rdaily under conference | Tags: cancellation, london | 0 Comments

The Institute of Historical Research is very sorry to announce that it is has had to cancel the conference 'Reinterpreting British History' which was scheduled for June 29th and 30th at the IHR in London. The IHR apologises to any NACBS members who were intending to attend. We hope that an IHR/NACBS conference in London can be scheduled for another year.    -Lawrence Goldman, Director, Institute of Historical Research 

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Obituary for Thomas Kennedy

Posted by rdaily under Obituaries | Tags: Thomas Kennedy | 0 Comments

Tom Kennedy always considered himself a lucky man–lucky in lineage,lucky in love, lucky in labor, and lucky in the loyalty of a lot of good friends.

He was born 25 September 1937 in Dayton, Ohio, the second of three sons of Harry Lawrence and Adlyn Cummins Kennedy. He was raised in an Irish-American tribe since most of his parents’ close friends were resolutely Irish, faithfully Catholic and staunchly Democrat. His childhood was nearly idyllic, if insufficiently touched with the hard realities of a relentless world.

From the beginning, Tom was well-educated, in so far as he was willing to co-operate, in good Catholic institutions, where he learned to love history and literature but, alas, to dislike, beyond arithmetic, all things connected with mathematics, a considerable weakness. Perhaps more important, he was taught at home and in school to adhere to strict ethical standards (he sometimes failed to fully embrace) and, more successfully, to treat all human beings with dignity and respect. May it go before his parents and his teachers.

After graduating from the University of Dayton, he served for twenty-five months, mostly in Germany, as a fresh-faced officer in the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment at the height of the Cold War. There he learned about many things, wonderful and dreadful, he had not encountered in his previously sheltered life. During military service he met a host of fine and talented friends, learned the wonders of a foreign culture and people, suffered the throes of an ultimately unrequited love affair and almost became a serious young man. It was a bracing and maturing experience, never marked, God and good luck be thanked, by the need to fire a weapon in anger or fear at another human being.

Tom’s luck remained intact when, wandering about Europe after his release from the Army, he had a pre-arranged meeting in Stuttgart with a hometown girl, Mary Lynn Goecke, and began the fun and adventure that started as a lark and ended as a life-long attachment. Ahh, he was an undeservingly fortunate creature. While he was teaching literature and learning grammar, finally, at a fortuitously acquired position at a marvelous high school in West Carrollton, Ohio, Tom and Mary were married less than a year after their marvelous German fling. After this glorious coupling, he began to acquire higher education, and she began having babies. The first of these, Maura Ann, was born in Arizona where Tom received a Masters degree, the next two (Padraic and Eamon) in Columbia, South Carolina where he earned a Ph.D. Their fourth precious babe (Caitlin) was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas where Tom attained employment and, good fortune proceeding, they afterward lived together in mostly blissful wedlock, mostly because Mary was usually more patient if not more loving than he. 

During nearly forty years of teaching in the History Department at the University of Arkansas, Tom met a vast array of sometimes brilliant, often fascinating people many of whom, fortune ever-smiling, became close and loving friends. He loved teaching, more perhaps than some of his students loved learning, but in that cast of thousands, there were some he never forgot and a few who gained high places in the world of men and women. Once the children were all in school, Mary joined the staff of the Arkansas Archeological Survey, eventually serving two decades as editor of Survey publications. Having discovered the attractions of research and having learned to write at least moderately lucid prose, Tom began to publish scholarly articles and eventually books, many of which examined Quakers and Quakerism in Britain and the United States.  None, alas, became best sellers, but all were labors of love.  His scholarly pursuits led him to become an active participant and President of the Western Conference on British Studies, and to become President of the Friends Historical Society in London.

Tom, Mary and all four children lived in London for six months, an exciting, educational and usually happy embracing with England and English people. Later, when, luck continuing, he was appointed T. Wister Brown Fellow at Haverford College, Eamon and Cait accompanied their parents to the Philadelphia suburbs; easy for the elders, not always for young teenagers, but all survived another learning experience.  The last overseas residence for Tom and Mary Lynn was in Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.  It proved to be a glorious year and, especially for him, a home away from home while he undertook research trips throughout the British Isles.

While research, teaching, travel, and family demanded much of his attention, Tom always found time for the sporting life: born a Cincinnati Red, educated as a Dayton Flyer, and ripened as an Arkansas Razorback, his loyalties were never in question.  Not content to observe the contests on fields and courts, Tom relished the physical challenges of sport, eventually leading the intramural teams of the Department of History to an all-sport trophy at the University of Arkansas.   The careful management of departmental intramural sports was matched by his nurturing of Fayetteville’s soccer program that has provided instruction and competition to generations of the city’s youth.  Sport provided Tom with an outlet that gave full rein to his love of competition, zest for life, and value of teamwork.

Tom loved to sing and dance and write verse, which often accompanied invitations to the famous annual Party, allegedly celebrating he feast of blessed St. Patrick, he and Mary hosted for several decades and hoped that guests savored as much as they enjoyed. It was all in the tradition, as his sainted ancestors proclaimed: “Life is short and you’re a long time dead.”

Tom is survived by his wife and children, his brother Harry and sister-in-law Sangnete, of Fresno, California, his son-in-law Tony Anaya of Cincinnati, Ohio, daughter-in-law Alison Greer of Baltimore, Maryland, son-in-law Ryan Guyton of Fayetteville, and eight beloved grandchildren, Adlyn, Thomas and Matteo of Cincinnati, Jennie and Jared, of Windsor, Colorado, Harry and Iain, of Baltimore, and Anna, of Fayetteville.    

There will be a memorial service held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville on Saturday February 11 at 11a.m.  If desired, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in the form of contributions to any progressive cause.  Tom contributed to them all.

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Posted by rdaily under conference | Tags: necbs | 0 Comments


 Call for Papers, Annual Meeting, Endicott College, Beverly, MA, October 13-14, 2017

The Northeast Conference on British Studies (NECBS) will hold its annual meeting in 2017 at Endicott College in Beverly, MA on Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14. The 2017 conference will be hosted by Endicott College, with Anna Suranyi acting as local arrangements coordinator.

We solicit the participation of scholars in all areas of British Studies, broadly defined. In particular, we welcome proposals for interdisciplinary panels that draw on the work of historians, literary critics, and scholars in other disciplines whose focus is on Britain and its empire, from the Middle Ages to the present. Proposals for entire panels on a common theme will be given priority, although individual paper proposals will also be considered if several of them can be assembled to create a viable panel. Proposals for roundtable discussions of a topical work, on current issues in the field, or pedagogical practices with respect to the teaching of particular aspects of British Studies are also encouraged. The typical ninety-minute panel will include three papers (each lasting for fifteen to twenty minutes), a chair, and a moderator (who should provide brief summarizing statements, ask a few questions, and speak for no more than five minutes). The chair/moderator role may be combined, if necessary. Roundtables may have a looser format.

Proposals should include a general description of the panel or roundtable (including an overall title), a 200-300 word abstract for each paper to be read and a one-page curriculum vitae for each participant. Please include the address, phone number, and e-mail address of all participants (including the chair and moderator) in the proposal. For panel or roundtable proposals, please note the name of the main contact person. Electronic submissions (as e-mail attachments in Word) are preferred, with all the various materials presented in a single document.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2017 (final decisions will be announced in late June 2017).

Please send your proposals to:

Brendan Kane, NECBS Vice President and Program Chair

[email protected] 

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Trump, Brexit, and a New Era for British Studies Scholars Part II: What do we do now?

By: Stephen Jackson

This is Part II of our series on the changing political climate in the United States and Britain. You can read Part I here. Over the past year historians on the blogosphere have been writing about teaching and researching in the current political climate.[1] Numerous academic institutions, including the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), have released statements regarding the Trump administration’s Executive Order (EO) on immigration. You can see the NACBS statement here. In light of these discussions, I sent out questions to the NACBS Council (and a few former Council members) regarding how the events of the past year, particularly Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, are affecting the field of British Studies.[2] Part II examines a question many of us are asking right now: what role do we have in this new political atmosphere? 

A recent AHA panel and subsequent blog post discussed the role of historians in public life. In particular, they responded to the argument of Stanley Fish, who said in a New York Times article that “the profession of history shouldn’t be making political pronouncements of any kind.”[3] I asked our respondents to address this question: how can and should historians engage in the contemporary political climate?

All of the respondents rejected Fish’s argument. Amy Harris put it most succinctly: “Is he for real!?!?”  But while Philippa Levine disagreed strongly with Fish’s argument, she was skeptical of the impact historians can have. “I think we’re kidding ourselves if we really think that statements and teach-ins and the rest will affect how Bannon and his thugs go about things. To me, it’s sheer hubris to imagine we have any effect there, and it’s this sort of attitude that lies at the base of a lot of anti-intellectual hostility in the current climate.” Despite this bleak assessment, she continued by noting that “what we can do, however, is to model civil exchange, historical accuracy, and honesty in our classes and our scholarship. We can be part of a larger protest voice. But I think we need to be very careful not to consider ourselves special or better qualified than others to lead, comment, and advise. A lack of humility is part of how we got where we are.” 

Simon Devereaux argued that historians can and should have an important role in public discourse, but have all too frequently abdicated this responsibility in recent years. In fact, he suggested, academics are in part to blame for the current anti-intellectual trends. “I’m with the late great Tony Judt in wondering how real the adherence of many of us academics to active and meaningful left-wing values really has been since the 1980s. Remember when most of us professed to believe that this was one of government’s main jobs: to restrain the excesses of capitalism, rather than facilitate them?” Moving forward, Deveraux suggested that scholars need to develop “our own capacity to express outrage in a productive fashion,” which must “build real bridges of common identity back towards people of whom we have, in practical terms, thought relatively little of for a long time now. Building that bridge will, I think, mean devising a common identity that is far larger than the one which ‘identity politics’ currently has to offer. Historians can do so much to advance that cause, by helping us to recover our lost legacies of radicalism. Will we do so? Or will we remain content inside our Ivory Towers, standing upon ever-shrinking islands of civility and security?”

Amy Harris and Jason Kelly contended that historians provide critical context and quality information for educators and the general public. Harris suggested that a pivotal role for historians is working with public school teachers. “They are on the frontlines of educating about the past in ways that make for better, less divisive citizens. They need the best we can give them and they need us to advocate along with them at the local and state level.” Jason Kelly argued simply that “we should do what we do best: provide context — show how every statement and every action exists within a historical context. One of the recurring themes that I have seen this past six months is a denial of history — a pretense that everything exists in the present. That is why politicians can say one thing on Tuesday and completely contradict themselves on Wednesday. This ahistorical stance allows them to pretend that the ‘dog whistle’ phrases they utter don’t actually have or racist or xenophobic connotations. We can do this in many forms, but the key is to reach beyond where we feel the most comfortable and engage with other communities.” 

Dane Kennedy suggests that historians should respond “in the same way any responsible citizen who respects facts and evidence and justice should respond: protest, resist, obstruct, critique, etc…” Though Amy Harris also questioned the extent to which historians could make a difference, she said that “we must continue to argue for history’s importance to society. We need to push back about the crucial necessity of history and the liberal arts more generally to create well-informed, thoughtful citizens able to live in a multi-cultural and tolerant society.” 

What do you think should be the primary role and responsibility of historians in the Age of Trump? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Stephen Jackson is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Sioux Falls, and serves as the Media Director for the NACBS. If you’d like to contribute a blog post, contact him at [email protected]

[1] For some examples of this, see: Tyler Anbinder on immigration; Denver Brunsman and John Donoghue or Mary Myung-Ok Lee on teaching; Sarah Fenton of the AHA on the limitations of expertise; Dane Kennedy, Philippa Levine, or Susan Pederson on Brexit; or Paul Kramer on the role of the historian.

[2] The responding scholars were: Simon Devereaux, University of Victoria; Amy Harris, Brigham Young University; Jason Kelly, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Dane Kennedy, The George Washington University; Philippa Levine, University of Texas at Austin; Sandra den Otter, Queen’s University.

[3] Stanley Fish, “Professors, Stop Opining About Trump,” New York Times, July 15, 2016. 

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Trump, Brexit, and a New Era for British Studies Scholars Part I: Research and Teaching

By: Stephen Jackson

This is Part I of a two part series on the changing political climate in the United States and Britain. Over the past year historians on the blogosphere have been writing about teaching and researching in the current political climate.[1] Numerous academic institutions, including the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), have released statements regarding the Trump administration’s Executive Order (EO) on immigration. You can see the NACBS statement here. In light of these discussions, I sent out questions to the NACBS Council (and a few former Executive Council members) regarding how the events of the past year, particularly Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, are affecting the field of British Studies.[2] Part I will examine critical issues related to research and teaching.

Several of the participating scholars expressed a newfound sense of urgency in their own scholarship and work. Philippa Levine thinks that there will be major repercussions for British Studies since “some of the biggest (though by no means the only) upheavals of 2016 were in the Anglo-American sphere so it’s hard not to see Brexit and Trump especially as formative for our analyses going forward. I foresee that their looming presence will force a rethinking of earlier events and ideas, not in a teleological way but in posing questions about why we didn’t see this coming. 

On a more basic level, other respondents like Jason Kelly worry that “this political climate has let loose a storm of anti-intellectualism. The role of the expert, the importance of knowledge, the necessity of logic, and the quest for truth seem to have been thrown out the window- at least in public discourse.” Amy Harris echoed this sentiment, suggesting that “the need for historical consciousness and application of historical tools has been made stark by recent events. If my research and teaching contribute in the smallest way to have others be more considerate of how the past, present, and future impinge on one another, I’ll count that as a win.”

Each interviewee noted that restrictive immigration policies such as the recent EO will, in all likelihood, negatively affect scholarship moving forward. They raised concerns about fellowship opportunities, visiting speakers, funding prospects, long-term international research, and scholarly collaboration. “The ability to move freely undergirds the best impulses in education and research. I’m afraid this will have a chilling effect on all we do,” said Amy Harris.

Simon Devereaux, the Canadian-based president of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies (PCCBS), noted that the forthcoming PCCBS conference scheduled for March 2017 in British Columbia is undersubscribed and likely to lose money. He wondered “how much of that is down to US-based historians of Britain who feel nervous about leaving their country, or even just passing through a major international airport in the USA, right at this moment, or simply too demoralized to contemplate ‘normal’ life for the moment. After all, what is the ‘new normal’ going to become over the next few weeks, months, and (God forbid) years?”

There is also a great deal of uncertainty regarding the fate of these restrictive policies, and an increasing likelihood that the policies will simply be re-written in the near future. Jason Kelly decried the uncertainty this is producing, which “in addition to restricting the movement of international scholars, could potentially lead to a backlash in which U.S.-based scholars and conferences are boycotted.”

The EO and the new political climate have also raised a number of questions regarding teaching. Only one respondent, Dane Kennedy, had a student directly affected by the ban. Kennedy, Jason Kelly, and Philippa Levine all reported that their universities had written statements in opposition to the ban, though Levine noted that the response at her institution was not as strong as she might have liked. Simon Devereaux comes from a Canadian university that, in his words, is a great place to teach British history but “not so much a center for multi-cultural politics.”

Five of the six respondents will be making changes to their courses in light of contemporary political events. Philippa Levine will be spending a week of her Twentieth-Century British history class on Brexit, especially with an eye towards emphasizing historical parallels to our contemporary world. Dane Kennedy has already introduced new assignments that have students examine the historical roots of contemporary political problems. Amy Harris is incorporating additional historical documents that echo contemporary debates. 

Jason Kelly and Sandra den Otter noted changes to their overall pedagogical approach. “More than ever, I’m emphasizing the value of nuance in analysis and argumentation. I’m also focusing on the ways that we establish facts: looking at the relationship between facts, interpretations, and opinions,” said Kelly. Sandra den Otter suggested that she wants to avoid focusing on partisan politics, but rather to “use these two events [Trump’s election and Brexit] in non-partisan ways to talk about the nation, identities, difference, and race with the aim of cultivating critical and nuanced perspectives and understanding historical contingency.” 

Simon Devereaux will not be making substantive alterations to his courses. He is “astonished at how flat many of my ‘Trump remarks’ often fall in classroom situations.” Ultimately, the problem might be that “people actually like him [Trump]: or at least endorse his proposition that the established way of doing things isn’t working, and thus attributing to him an authority, and even a capability(?) of which he is utterly undeserving. They conflate the message with the messenger.”

Have recent political events influenced your teaching and research in any ways? Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the comments section below.

Stephen Jackson is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Sioux Falls, and serves as the Media Director for the NACBS. If interested in writing a blog post, contact him at [email protected]

[1] For some examples of this, see: Tyler Anbinder on immigration; Denver Brunsman and John Donoghue or Mary Myung-Ok Lee on teaching; Sarah Fenton of the AHA on the limitations of expertise; Dane Kennedy, Philippa Levine, or Susan Pederson on Brexit; or Paul Kramer on the role of the historian.

[2] The responding scholars were: Simon Devereaux, University of Victoria; Amy Harris, Brigham Young University; Jason Kelly, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Dane Kennedy, The George Washington University; Philippa Levine, University of Texas at Austin; Sandra den Otter, Queen’s University.

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Photos Now Online--NACBS Annual Conference 2016

Posted by rdaily under 2016, conference, photographs | Tags: annual conference, photos | 0 Comments

A trove of images from the Washington meeting, taken by photographer Sancha McBurnie, is available for perusal on Flickr:[email protected]/4B5j5F. Enjoy!

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Prize Pages Updated for 2017 Competitions

Posted by rdaily | Tags: deadlines, prize, update | 0 Comments

Committee members, deadlines and requirements for NACBS 2017 prize competitions are now current.

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