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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 (2011)

Prize List (see details below)

NACBS/Huntington Fellowship: Stephanie Koscak

Dissertation Year Fellowship: Ryan Bibler, (University of Virginia), Extension and Adaptation of European Legal Forms to the English Atlantic World (c. 1550-1700)

Dissertation Year Travel Grant: Samantha Sagu, (Fordham University), "Law, Order, and the Development of Urban Policing in Late Medieval England"

Walter Love Prize: Susan Pedersen. "Getting out of Iraq – in 1932: The League of Nations and the Road to Normative Statehood," American Historical Review, 115, no 4 (2010): 975-1000.

Walter Love Prize, honorable menion: Amy Whipple, ‘Into every home, into every body: Organicism and anti-Statism in the British Anti-Fluoridation Movement, 1952-60’, Twentieth Century British History 21, no. 3 (2010): 330-49

John Ben Snow Prize: Arianne Chernock, Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2010).

Albion Prize: Elaine Hadley, Living Liberalism: Practical Citizenship in Mid-Victorian Britain (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Undergraduate Essay Contest for U.S. Colleges and Universities

NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship, 2010-11
The NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship was awarded to Stephanie E. Koscak of Indiana University. Her project on Multiplying Pictures for the Public: Reproducing the English Monarchy, c. 1649-1780, promises to be an innovative and genuinely interdisciplinary study which will combine cultural, intellectual, political, and religious approaches with the history of art and print, and which will draw extensively on materials at the Huntington.

Dissertation Year Fellowship
The NACBS Dissertation Research Award is given this year to Ryan Bibler (University of Virginia) for his work on the ‘extension and adaptation of European legal forms to the English Atlantic world,’ under the supervision of Paul Halliday. This project promises to be an innovative treatment of the establishment of legal institutions in the 16th-17th century settlements of Virginia, Newfoundland, Barbados and Jamaica. Bibler will trace the processes of change in these colonies from the devising of royal charters – themselves modeled on similar founding documents for universities, borough corporations and private trading companies – through the implementation of English legal principles in laws and courts ‘tailored’ to the social environments of the different regions. At archives in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh, Bibler will study the Privy Council inquiries, preliminary drafts and royal instructions that preceded the granting of formal charters, as well as court records, petitions, early law codes and proprietors’ correspondence as the colonies evolved. The committee was impressed with the potential of this comparative study to reveal the dynamic interplay between an overarching imperial legal culture and specific local imperatives, and to contribute to an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the development of English law in the early modern Atlantic world.

NACBS Travel Award
The NACBS awards its Dissertation Travel Grant for 2011 to Samantha Sagui of Fordham University (Maryanne Kowaleski, adviser) for her creative and analytic study of policing in medieval English towns. Focusing on England’s second largest city, Norwich, Sagui has constructed a prosopographical data base of the town’s civic officials, their status and their duties, in an effort to chart the evolution from communal to official law enforcement from the 13th to the 15th centuries. She places this analysis in a comparative framework through examination of similar developments in Exeter, London, Lynn and Yarmouth. Preliminary results indicate that English towns were not far behind European counterparts like Paris or Vienna in their ‘administrative complexity.’ While community responsibility remained an important part of law enforcement, it was becoming directed by a ‘formalized police force’ earlier than historians have recognized. Saqui’s work promises to be a significant contribution to social and urban history of the late medieval centuries.

Love Prize
Giving new life to what long seemed the tired field of diplomatic history, Susan Pedersen’s ‘Getting out of Iraq – in 1932’ (AHR 115/4 [2010]) casts an uncomfortable light on processes that are still unfolding. Some of what Pedersen uncovered in the archives of the Foreign and Colonial Offices – the way the imperial power deployed the new rhetorics of international cooperation and national self-determination to advance its objectives – may come as no surprise to those can who remember the turnings of the Bush-Blair axis . More disturbing is the abundant evidence she finds of European officials’ awareness of, and ultimately cynicism about, other agendas – Kurdish, Assyrian, Shi’ite – that might challenge the “normative” nation-state in the fast-developing age of oil. As she shows through an elegant address to German archives and German scholarship, there was more than a touch of cynicism too in the way a late-Weimar Germany, shorn of its colonies, bid for the moral high ground of international cooperation. Pedersen provides a model of what review committees like to call “timely” scholarship: fast-paced, deftly written, with an unerring eye for the hopelessly self-inculpatory quotation as well as for the broader context, and with an acute consciousness that the story she tells haunts us today. One hopes she has an audience in Washington – not only among makers of foreign policy, but also among budget-hawks tempted to question the value of the humanities.

Love Prize, honorable mention
Amy Whipple, ‘Into every home, into every body: Organicism and anti-Statism in the British Anti-Fluoridation Movement, 1952-60’, Twentieth Century British History 21, no. 3 (2010): 330-49. Whipple’s study of the anti-fluoridation campaigns spearheaded by the British Housewives League in the 1950s uses this campaign to address larger questions about the ideological landscape in early postwar Britain. The league’s activities during the late 1940s have received considerable attention and Whipple’s article breaks new ground by demonstrating its continuing relevance in the 1950s. Steeped in the beliefs of interwar and wartime organicism, the housewives claimed that government intervention in food production and distribution was producing a diet laden in harmful chemicals. Fluoridation would introduce yet one more chemical, forcing citizens to drink impure or even harmful water. This encroachment by the “gentlemen in Whitehall” was perceived as poisoning not only the physical body, but also the body politic. The housewives’ battle for British liberties against the encroachment of the state drew on what is frequently considered a “leftist” environmentalism and “rightist” political ideology. Whipple’s imaginative and engaging analysis demonstrates how organicist and anti-statist perspectives were intertwined, thereby complicating our understanding of politics in postwar Britain.

Jon Ben Snow Prize
Arianne Chernock, Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2010
Dr. Chernock (Assistant Professor of History at Boston University) presents a new vision of the Enlightenment adoption of the philosophies of toleration and equality that finally brings the debate on women’s status among eighteenth-century intellectuals out of the shadows. Long before the Seneca Falls Convention linked the American Abolition movement with women’s suffrage, the community of political and philosophical radicals in Britain—figures ranging from Thomas Paine to Joseph Priestly—connected the oppression of women to the oppression of slavery and the liberation of women’s status to the drive for “universal” male suffrage. In particular, the conservative neo-Aristotelian argument that females were “deformed” and somehow less human than males was challenged in print and at the podium by men who embraced Mary Wollstonecraft and Maria Edgeworth’s challenges to the status quo, advocated for women’s equality in education, and proposed a significant alteration of conventional sexual status. Chernock demonstrates that, although largely ignored by historians of the era, the radical Enlightenment adoption of women’s liberation fitted seamlessly into the rest of its political and social agenda.

Albion Prize
Elaine Hadley's Living Liberalism: Practical Citizenship in Mid-Victorian Britain (University of Chicago Press, 2010) is an ambitious book which combines history, literary criticism, and political theory to give real substance to an abstraction that is often invoked but has rarely been subjected to this kind of nuanced scholarly attention -- the "liberal subject." This is a dense and challenging book, and Hadley herself acknowledges at multiple points the difficulties of the argument she is making, as she traces the material conditions, bodily practices, and performative gestures that made "living liberalism" -- the embodied yet abstract individualism of mid-Victorian liberalism -- both possible and impossible.  Ranging widely over topics and sources, from detailed analysis of Trollope's novels to newspaper reports of Gladstone's speeches, the book redirects our attention from content to form, exploring the ways in which new political practices such as the introduction of authors' signatures in the periodical press and the institution of the secret ballot not only enabled new kinds of liberal cognition but also (paradoxically) required new forms of embodiment and a reconfiguration of the physical, spatial, and tactile.  This is a fiercely intelligent and sophisticated account which brings new insights to a topic which continues to resonate in the political debates of our own time.

Undergraduate Essay Contest for U.S. Colleges and Universities 


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