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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.


The JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE is a $500 prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar in any field of British Studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. The author must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada and be living in either country at the time of the award. Nominations may be made by the author or by the publisher of the book nominated. A publisher may nominate more than one title each year but should use discretion and not overburden the Prize Committee.

The 2021 competition covers books published in 2020. Separate copies of the letter of nomination and of the book nominated should be sent to each member of the Prize Committee, postmarked by May 1, 2021. (Only books sent to every committee member can be considered.) Presses and authors should contact committee chair William Cavert at [email protected] for the committee members’ mailing addresses.

Note: U.S. authors and publishers sending book copies to committee members in Canada must specify contents as a complimentary book copy with $0 value on the customs form, and/or use USPS rather than private shippers, to avoid incurring a duty upon receipt. 

For prompt attention, mark packages 'NACBS Prize Committee'. 

Chair: William Cavert
Department of History
The University of St. Thomas
[email protected]

Michelle Brock
Department of History
Washington & Lee University
[email protected]
Tawny Paul
Public History Initiative
University of California, Los Angeles
[email protected]


Tawny Paul (University of California-Los Angeles), The Poverty of Disaster: Debt and Insecurity in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

The rise of a middling sort characterized by independence, consumption, and access to credit shapes positive and critical assessments of eighteenth-century economic and social change. Tawny Paul’s deeply researched and beautifully written book draws on a range of legal, fiscal, personal, and public records and commentary from England and Scotland to reveal a very different middling sort. Enmeshed by communal, familial, and gender norms and obligations in ever more tangled webs of credit, and routinely exposed to the whims of creditors and incarceration for debt, the lives, identities, and bodies of these English and Scots men and women were marked above all by persistent and growing insecurity. Paul shows the brutality that underpinned polite society – the structural role that violence, “legitimised and sublimated” by legal and moral codes, played in shifting risk and sustaining economic expansion at the expense of individual autonomy. As she observes, “eighteenth century experience calls into question the deeply held assumption that economic growth is good for society.” Making insecurity central to thinking about class, Paul revises the history of capitalism and deepens our understanding of its nature in the present.