Skip to content


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 (1998)

1. JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE: best book of 1997 in any field of British Studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.
WINNER: David Cressy, Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). Cressy is Professor of History at Ohio State University The citation of the John Ben Snow Foundation Prize Committee, presented by its Chair, Professor Sears McGee, reads as follows:
David Cressy's Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual. Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford University Press, 1997) is a major work of scholarship on a subject of fundamental importance to the understanding of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the beliefs and practices by which people of all classes and stations sought to make sense of crucial moments in their lives. The book focuses on rituals and the sociability that surrounded them, a popular area of research, but one that Cressy explores with particular subtlety and power because of his ability to combine micro and macro history and his insistence on the complexity of the rituals he studies. Thanks to Cressy, we now better understand how early modern Englishmen and women experienced emotions and how inextricably bound together individuals were with their communities. Throughout, he shows how long-held views were challenged by conflicts and transformations in religious doctrine, liturgy, and culture. He explores these conflicts even-handedly, and he moves from high theology and liturgical theory to secular social activity with imagination and sensitivity. Vividly recreated insights into human experience abound in the book. For example, readers are unlikely to forget his richly detailed accounts of the carousing that went on at christening parties, or the evidence of womenís pleasure in the attention they enjoyed at their churching after childbirth, however controversial the practice may have been among theologians. We are all in David Cressy's debt for this highly readable piece of sophisticated and engaging cultural history.

2. BRITISH COUNCIL PRIZE: best book of 1997 on any aspect of British studies since 1800.
WINNER: Robert M. Ryan, The Romantic Reformation: Religious Politics in English Literature, 1789-1824 (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Ryan is Associate Professor of English, Rutgers University at Camden. The citation of the British Council Prize Committee, prepared by its Chair, Professor Jeffrey Cox, reads as follows:
In The Romantic Reformation. Religious politics in English literature, 1789-1824 (Cambridge University Press), Robert M. Ryan covers familiar ground with an optimistic revisionist temperament. Is it possible to say something else about Romanticism? Well, yes, even about the relationship of Romanticism and religion. The thousands of commentators on the subject have said many valuable things, according to Ryan, but missed something important about the major Romantic poets. In a close analysis of their texts, always respectful of their lack of orthodoxy, Ryan identifies a common commitment to a revived, reformed, and purified English national church. The power of this ideal extended even to the committed atheist Shelley. In the early nineteenth century there were many competing answers to the question: "What is the church?" In Ryan's well-argued case, a coherent Romantic view of the church belongs alongside the high church, evangelical, liberal, latitudinarian, erastian, tractarian, Roman Catholic, and dissenting views.
HONORABLE MENTION: Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997). Ritvo is Arthur J. Connor Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Committee's citation reads as follows:
Harriet Ritvo's The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard University Press) deals with the paradoxes of Victorian attempts to classify the natural world. The Victorians found little help from naturalists, who were unable to devise a simple, uniform system of classification to replace the partly discredited Linnaean system. Even as the prestige of science and professionalism grew, multiple scientific voices and vernacular taxonomies multiplied. Greatly interested in hybrids, hermaphrodites, monsters, and other anomalies, a repulsed public demanded clear definitions of the normal and the abnormal. In the absence of a scientific consensus, they created their own categories, particularly around the question of what was proper for humans to eat. With lapidary summary sentences and perfectly chosen anecdotes, Harriet Ritvo leaves us with a strong sense of the importance of moral and emotional understanding in the worlds of Victorian science.

3. WALTER D. LOVE PRIZE: for the best scholarly article of 1997 in any field of British studies.
WINNER: Victor Bailey, "English Prisons, Penal Culture, and the Abatement of Imprisonment, 1895-1922," Journal of British Studies, vol. 36, no. 3 (July, 1997), pp. 285-324, Bailey is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas. The citation of the Love Prize Committee, chaired by Professor Brice Kinzer, reads as follows:

Victor Bailey's wide-ranging and penetrating examination of the structure of criminal justice, penal culture, and penal practice in the period 1895 to 1922 constitutes a major challenge to influential recent work that identifies a fundamental conceptual shift from the "classical" jurisprudential axioms of personal responsibility, deterrence, and a due proportion between crime and punishment, to a new "positivist" criminology that sought to ascertain the biological and environmental sources of criminal behavior. Corresponding with a changed image of criminal man, these studies contend, was an altered penal structure that proposed to substitute treatment for deterrence. Deploying an impressive array of evidence, official and otherwise, Bailey incisively argues that the structure of criminal justice did not see a radical transformation during this period and that the classical principles, reinforced by the sway of philosophical idealism, retained much of their authority. The great change in penal policy and practice in these years, Bailey persuasively affirms, concerned the huge decrease in the number of short-sentence prisoners, a matter he suggestively explores while urging the need for further investigation. This exemplary article--spaciously conceived, deeply researched, elegantly written, sensitively modulated, analytically acute--will leave an enduring and profound mark on the historiography of a most important subject.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nicoletta F. Gullace, "White Feather and Wounded Men: Female Patriotism and the Memory of the Great War," Journal of British Studies, vol. 36, no. 2 (April, 1997), pp. 178-206. Gullace is Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire. The Committee's citation reads as follows:
Nicoletta Gullace's finely wrought exploration of the white feather campaign during the First World War and of the retrospective meaning assigned to it vividly shows how the waning legitimacy of the cultural environment that sanctioned the campaign cast an especially unfavorable light on its female participants in the years after the war. Drawing upon newspaper accounts, postwar memoirs, diaries, and a unique collection of letters supplied the BBC by veterans of the war forty-five years after the armistice, Gullace tellingly elucidates the cultural dynamics shaping notions of patriotism and betrayal. In the aftermath of war former soldiers rebuked those women who had sought to shame men not in uniform by offering a white feather. The narratives these men constructed both described what had happened and fiercely articulated a masculinity that, in Gullace's words, "claimed for those who suffered exclusive custody over the interpretation of the war." Imbued with graceful prose and cogent analysis, "White Feathers and Wounded Men" sharply illuminates a matter whose character and significance can now be seen as integral to "the memory of the Great War."

WINNER: Kaarin Michaelsen (History, University of California, Berkeley), "Becoming 'Lady Doctors': Female Personal Physicians and Professional Identities in Britain, 1874-1947." Michaelsen is a student of Sheldon Rothblatt.

WINNER: Michael S. Smith (History, University of California, Riverside), "Anti-Radical Expression: Counter-Revolutionary Thought in the Age of Revolution." Smith was a student of the late John Phillips.


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