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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 (2009)

Albion Prize

Richard Price (Maryland), Making Empire: Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century Africa

Based on extensive and sophisticated archival research, and lucidly written, Richard Price’s Making Empire: Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century Africa examines the way in which the British imperial experience in the eastern Cape unfolded as a string of failures that spiraled into great brutality. In so doing, he demonstrates that there was nothing inevitable and pre-conceived about the introduction of racism to colonial discourse. Its appeal for local European actors emanated first and foremost from the failure of different civilizing missionary projects, whose utopian and fragile nature Price makes clear. It is surely no accident that Price has chosen to give his book a title that echoes E. P. Thompson’s, Making of the English Working Class since another accomplishment of his book is its nuanced account of the making of colonial subjects. Price’s detailed and insightful descriptions of individuals--on both sides of the encounter--seeks to understand what drove the people that initiated and executed them and how colonial settings shaped their behavior and views. Making Empire also proposes a different (and much strained) relationship between knowledge and the imperial project, especially in comparison with the Foucauldian and the Saidian approaches. This—and possibly other—imperial episodes were marked by persistent mis-recognition, by a profound inability to know, to recognize the colonial other. Price’s focus on the frontier and the tremendous violence that was at the heart of the colonial encounter between the British and the Xhosa makes clear the gap between empire as understood at home and as a lived experience.

Walter Love Prize
Julia Rudolph, "Gender and the Development of Forensic Science" English Historical Review 2008 123 (503).

Rudolph's case study of the contentious seventeenth century trial of Spencer Cowper for the murder of Sarah Stout produces a nuanced reading of women’s participation in the development of forensic science. Sarah Stout was found dead in the river. Determined to clear her daughter's reputation, her mother Mary drew on her class status and literacy to challenge local assumptions that her daughter had committed suicide after abandonment by a lover. The mother's willingness to press for the exhumation and dissection of the dead body six weeks after burial and the summoning of women as legal experts who could testify to her daughter’s chastity demonstrates women’s agency in the development of forensic science. Rudolph uses the Stout materials as a powerful lens not only onto changing attitudes to evidence but as well onto assumptions about gender and the practices of social hierarchy and connection. Rudolph shows that in this case women were active agents in the pressure for and use of expert witnesses in a legal trial, complicating our understanding of the operations of gender in the development of scientific testimony.

NACBS Dissertation Year Fellowship
Philip Hnatkovich (Penn State), "The Atlantic Gate: Anglo-French Geographies of Expertise in the Western Channel Community 1558-1685"

The NACBS Dissertation Year Fellowship has been awarded to Philip Hnatkovich at Penn State for his project 'The Atlantic Gate: Anglo-French Geographies of Expertise in the Western Channel Community 1558-1685', working under the supervision of Professor Daniel Beaver. The project traces the development of Protestant-rooted, kinship-based networks of entrepreneurs and traders that enveloped the ports of southwest England and northwest France between the accession of Elizabeth I and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Using a remarkable body of material in local archives in England and France, it reconstructs a largely heretofore-ignored Anglo-Huguenot merchant community. In particular, Hnatkovich argues that the commercial culture created by economic and human exchanges in this 'Western Channel Community' shaped the development of early English and French maritime expertise. The Western Channel in turn served as a dynamic testing ground for new methods of long-range seafaring, mercantile organization, and colonization in the Atlantic World and the Mediterranean. Finally, the project aims to firmly position the European antecedents for Atlantic exploration and colonization in this Western Channel Community.

NACBS Travel Award
Michele Hanks (Illinois), "Narrating Anxiety and Disruption: An Anthropological Examination of the Production of Knowledge by Contemporary English Ghost Hunters"

The NACBS Travel Award has been awarded to Michelle Hanks at the University of Illinois for her project 'Narrating Anxiety and Disruption: An Anthropological Examination of the Production of Knowledge by Contemporary English Ghost Hunters', working under the supervision of Professor Virginia Dominguez. The project investigates the production and consumption of paranormal knowledge as a way to question the nature of contemporary English belief in the paranormal as well as popular articulations of nationalism. The project will be grounded in participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork focused on contemporary ghost hunters in London and York, and the processes by which ghost narratives become public through ghost tourism, museums, heritage sites, journalism, and popular media. Hanks aims to demonstrate that ghosts that emerge across the landscape are remnants of a particular English past, marked by moments of social disruption and political upheaval, from Viking and Roman invaders right through to contemporary uncertainty centered around EU migration and terror.

NACBS Huntington Library Fellowship
Joseph Stubenrauch's (Indiana), "Faith in Goods: Evangelicalism, Materiality, and Consumer Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain"

Joseph Stubenrauch's project, "Faith in Goods: Evangelicalism, Materiality, and Consumer Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain," focuses on religious consumer practices in order to uncover the central role of materiality in evangelical religious experience.  His work undercuts the secularization thesis from a novel angle, by delineating how religion and modernity were intertwined and how they reinforced one another. To demonstrate these interconnections, Joseph has already consulted a diverse array of sources: handbills, needlework, porcelain, wall decorations, prints and sheet music as well as memoirs and tract society papers.  One key source would be the grangerized Kitto bible with its 30,000 religious prints and engravings, available only at the Huntington Library. 

Undergraduate Essay Contest for U.S. Colleges and Universities
The four winning essays (in alphabetical order by student-author) are as follows:

Auble, Cassie (University of Nebraska, Lincoln),"The Cultural Significance of Precious Stones in Renaissance England," nominated by Carole Levin, Willa Cather Professor of History and Director, Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Bonawitz, Elizabeth (Carleton College), "'An Honest Englishman, or Good Plain Sense, of Good Plain Sense and Meaning?' or a 'Robust True-Born Briton?': English Constructions of Englishness, Britishness and Scottishness, 1690-1740," nominated by Susannah Ottaway, Associate Professor of History, Carleton College

Housden, Jessica (University of Virginia), "Labour, Leicester and the Ugandan Crisis: 1972-1979," nominated by Guy Ortolano, former Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia, currently at NYU

Townsend, Christina (Moravian College), "The Edge of Belief: Exploring Apparitions in Witchcraft Debate of Early Modern England Britain," nominated by Sandy Bardsley, Associate Professor of History, Moravian College

Canadian Undergraduate Essay Contest Winners
Andrew Coates. Angelic Hierarchs: Raphael, Michael and Changing Political Paradigms in Heaven (Engl)

Adrianna Eyking, The Symptoms of Sweet Agony: The Hysteria of Female Sexual Experience in John Cleland’s Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. (ENGL)

Matthew Gayford. Medieval and Modern: The New Monarch and Political Reform in 15th c England (HIST)

Leigh Harrison. Factory Music: How the Industrial Geography and Working Class Environment of Post-war Birmingham Fostered the Birth of Heavy Metal (HIST)

Alexander Myhre. The Extent of the Norwegian Impact on the North Atlantic World: An Evaluatio of Emergin Cultural Identities in Scotland’s Northern and Western isles in the High Middle Ages (HIST)

Devani Singh. Misreadings of Slander and Silence:
(Un)Communicative Images and Speech in Lucrece (ENGL)

Katie Starr. England's Other Queen

Liam Walke. The Building Blocks of Disease: Language and the cultural and social construction of plague in early modern England (HIST)

Meaghan Walker, Fashioning Gender: Sexuality, Identity and Clothing in the 18th c (HIST)

Hilary Wight. Bomb Disposal in Britain During the Second World War: A History of Unexploded Bombs and the Image of the People’s War (HIST)

Parminda Zarrinkamar, The Women Will Save Us: the Negotiations of The Personal and Political in the Feminist Writings of Edward Carpenter (HIST)


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