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November
12
2009

Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert (1924-2008)

Posted by jaskelly under Obituaries | 0 Comments

Bentley-Brinkerhoff_GilbertExecutive secretary of the North American Conference on British Studies and editor of the Journal of British Studies

Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert, emeritus professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, died in Mansfield, Ohio, on April 5, 2008, his 84th birthday. Mansfield, in east-central Ohio, where his family had lived since the mid-19th century, always meant a great deal to Bentley Gilbert, and he returned there to live shortly after his retirement from UIC in 1997. He was especially proud that his great-grandfather, Brigadier General Roeliff Brinkerhoff, served in the Union Army under William Tecumseh Sherman and was in charge of the field transportation of the Army of the Ohio. Gilbert graduated from Mansfield High School in 1942 and served during World War II with the U.S. Army Air Corps 308th Airdrome Squadron in the Pacific Theater, with campaign service in New Guinea and the Philippines. His own war experience, as well as that of his father in World War I in France and his great-grandfather in the Civil War, always remained of abiding concern in Gilbert’s scholarship and teaching. This interest was especially reflected in the second volume of the Lloyd George biography and in his short book, Britain, 1914–45 (1996). By the 1990s, save for his graduate component, Gilbert was teaching mostly military history. Undergraduates would squirm with delight—or not—when Gilbert would bring to class antiquated but well-preserved family military heirlooms for their inspection.

After his discharge from the military, Gilbert received his BA (1949) at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and an MA at the University of Cincinnati (1950). He worked under Paul Knaplund in British history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he received his PhD in 1954. Bentley Gilbert’s first permanent job was teaching European history at Colorado College (1954–67) and he came to what was then the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1967. Despite its later upgrade to the University of Illinois at Chicago, Gilbert always called UIC, with great fondness, “The Circle.” From his dissertation in 1954 to his last scholarly publications in the mid-1990s, Bentley Gilbert was concerned with the intersection in early and mid-20th-century Britain of social policy and politics, with the minutia of the working out of the social plans of the New Liberalism and with the political agendas of the men— Masterman, Lloyd George, Beveridge—who implemented the grand vision. His first book, The Evolution of National Insurance in Great Britain: The Origins of the Welfare State (1966), focused on the process of how social insurance rather than socialism became the framework for an eventual welfare state within a capitalist society. This work was followed in 1970 by British Social Policy, 1914–39, in which Gilbert discussed the development, admittedly somewhat lackadaisical, of welfare policy before the outbreak of World War II. He concluded that “This policy evolved, like the British empire, in a fit of absence of mind.” In 1973, Gilbert edited C.F.G. Masterman’s classic work of 1901, The Heart of the Empire. During the next two decades, Gilbert wrote two volumes of a study on David Lloyd George’s life before the premiership. The overall title was David Lloyd George: A Political Life, with Volume I (1987) sub-titled The Architect of Change, 1863–1912 and Volume II (1992) The Organizer of Victory, 1912–16. The second volume won the 1993 Society of Midland Authors Prize for Biography. It had been his intention to round out Lloyd George’s life by completing one volume on the last two years of the war and one on the postwar premiership and political career, but despite completing the work through 1917, it remained unfinished at his death. Gilbert published articles in Albion, the American Historical Review, The Historian, the Historical Journal, and the Journal of British Studies. Bentley Gilbert was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received three fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, and in 1973–74 a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Gilbert served as executive secretary to the North American Conference on British Studies from 1974 to 1978; as editor of the Journal of British Studies from 1978 to 1983; as president of the Midwest Conference on British Studies from 1988 to 1990; and as secretary to the newly formed American Friends of the Institute of Historical Research, London, during the early 1990s. Perhaps his most important administrative contribution to British history in the United States was his successful proposal, in 1983, at the end of his term as editor, to settle the formerly peripatetic Journal of British Studies at the University of Chicago Press, where it has remained and flourished. Bentley Gilbert was chair of the Department of History at UIC from 1988 to 1991.

Gilbert was exceedingly proud of the eight graduate students whose dissertations on 20th-century Britain he directed: Barbara Farr, Barbara Kehoe, Doris Racich, Norman Eder, Neal McCrillis, Andrew Wiest, Eugene Beiriger, and Septimus Paul. He also endowed a fellowship at UIC for PhD candidates in European history. During his years in Illinois he was a lay reader and vestryman at St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Glencoe. He is survived by four children, Bentley Junior, Margaret, Louis, and Francis, by three step-children, Ellen and Arthur Gallagher and Daisy Archie, and by four grandchildren, Jacob, Sylvia, Ethan, and Lydia Gilbert.

—James J. Sack
University of Illinois at Chicago
Katharine Stohrer

© American Historical Association
With permission from the American Historical Association
This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Perspectives
on History
and in Perspectives Online at http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2009/0909/0909mem2.cfm

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November
10
2009

NACBS Prizes 2009

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement | 0 Comments

Prize List (scroll down for details)

  • John Ben Snow Prize: Jennifer Summit (Stanford), Memory's Library: Medieval Books in Early Modern England.
  • Albion Prize:  Richard Price (Maryland), Making Empire: Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century Africa.
  • Walter Love Prize: Julia Rudolph (Pennsylvania), "Gender and the Development of Forensic Science," English Historical Review 123 (503).
  • Dissertation Year Fellowship: Philip Hnatkovich (Penn State), "The Atlantic Gate: Anglo-French Geographies of Expertise in the Western Channel Community 1558-1685".
  • Dissertation Year Travel Grant: Michele Hanks (Illinois), "Narrating Anxiety and Disruption: An Anthropological Examination of the Production of Knowledge by Contemporary English Ghost Hunters"
  • NACBS-Huntington Library Fellowship: Joseph Stubenrauch (Indiana), "Faith in Goods: Evangelicalism, Materiality, and Consumer Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain".

John Ben Snow Prize: Jennifer Summit (Stanford), Memory's Library: Medieval Books in Early Modern England (University of Chicago Press)

In Memory's Library: Medieval Books in Early Modern England, Jennifer Summit shows us the subtle yet powerful ways in which libraries of the past continue to construct our own perceptions of English history. She reminds us that reading was and is an embodied activity: where and how texts are stored and used shapes how they might be read and how the ideas they contain might be marshaled to serve particular ends. Her riveting book traces the transformation of the library from a collection into a place. She follows manuscripts as they were removed from the chests and choir stalls in which monks once hoarded them and placed in rooms designed for a wider readership. Medieval texts that survived the end of monasticism thus played new roles as the choices of collectors like Bodley, Parker, and Cotton created a medieval past designed to serve contemporary political purposes. Memory itself was reconstituted by an active, if sometimes contemptuous, Renaissance interest in monastic works and modes of reading. In this way, libraries generated new forms of collective identity, and laid the foundations for the archives on which modern scholarship now depends. As Summit concludes, our libraries—and the reading we and our forebears have always done in them—are “one part preservation, one part invention, and one part disavowal.

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 project, "Faith in Goods: Evangelicalism, Materiality, and Consumer Culture in Nineteenth-century Britain,"

Joseph Stubenrauch's project 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.

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November
6
2009

New Reviews for October on Reviews in History

Posted by dannymillum under Announcement | 0 Comments

The following reviews of possible interest to followers of the Intelligencer were published in October in the Institute of Historical Research’s e-journal Reviews in History.

Our 800th review was a double-header, with Robert Poole tackling two histories of popular protest, Katrina Navickas’s Loyalism and Radicalism in Lancashire 1798-1815 and Adrian Randall’s Riotous Assemblies: Popular Protest in Hanoverian England.

Then Rhonda Semple (no. 801) reviews Alison Twells’ The Civilising Mission and the English Middle Class, 1792-1850: The ‘Heathen’ at Home and Overseas, a study of missionary philanthropy both abroad and back in England. Alison’s response can also be found here.

Glenn Richardson’s edited collection 'The Contending Kingdoms': England and France 1420-1700 spans three centuries of contact between the two nations, and is reviewed (no. 802) by Simon Lambe.

There is also an account by Paul Flewers of British attitudes to the Soviet Union under Stalin, critiqued (no. 803) by Geoffrey Foote with a response by the author.

On a different note, Peter Webster reviews (no. 804) two volumes on early modern church music, Beth Quitslund’s The Reformation in Rhyme. Sternhold, Hopkins and the English Metrical Psalter, 1547-1603, and Humanism and the Reform of Sacred Music in Early Modern England. John Merbecke the Orator and The Booke of Common Praier Noted (1550) by Hyun-Ah Kim.

Next the medieval prison is the focus of a short and ambitious work by G. Geltner, The Medieval Prison: A Social History, which has been reviewed for us (no. 805) by Jonathan Rose.

The first full-length work on the history of adoption in England (A Child for Keeps: the History of Adoption in England, 1918-45 by Jenny Keating) is the subject of a piece (no. 806) by Daniel Grey, for which there is also a response by the author.

The next book under review examines the contradictory relationship between Americans and the British royal family, as Adam Smith (no. 808) tackles Frank Prochaska’s The Eagle and the Crown: Americans and the British Monarchy.

In addition Carolyn Kitching discusses (no. 810) a new book analysing the relation between British foreign policy and the formation of the League of Nations – Peter Yearwood’s Guarantee of Peace: The League of Nations in British Policy 1914-1925.

Lastly there feature two very different books on British history. To mark the 25th anniversary publication of a new edition Vernon Bogdanor reviews (no. 813) a key work of modern constitutional history, John F. Naylor’s A Man and an Institution: Sir Maurice Hankey, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Custody of Cabinet Secrecy, while elsewhere Kristina Straub’s Domestic Affairs: Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence Between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain is discussed by Sarah Lloyd (no. 814), for which there is a response by the author.

As always, all comments or suggestions should be sent to danny.millum@sas.ac.uk.

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October
30
2009

IHR Mellon Fellowships for Doctoral Research in the Humanities

Posted by jaskelly under Grants and Awards | 0 Comments

IHR Mellon Fellowships for doctoral research in the humanities are administered by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London and are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Please forward this information to appropriate individuals and make your students aware that this source of funding exists The Fellowships are intended to help students registered as doctoral candidates at a North American university to:

1) work in original source materials in the humanities in the United Kingdom.
2) help doctoral candidates in the humanities to deepen their ability to develop knowledge from original sources.
3) provide insight from the viewpoint of doctoral candidates into how scholarly resources can be developed most helpfully in the future.

There are two types of Fellowship: Pre-dissertation and Dissertation. The Pre-dissertation Fellowship (stipend value USD $5,000) is offered for a maximum of 2 months and is intended to help candidates draw up and revise a dissertation proposal. Candidates must have completed their coursework and examinations prior to the start of the Fellowship. The Dissertation Fellowship (stipend value USD 25,000) is offered to candidates already working on their dissertation and who need to spend time in the United Kingdom to carry out archival research. These fellowships will run concurrently with the academic year (i.e. 1 October 2010 to 30 September 2011).

The closing date for receipt of applications, and supporting documentation, is 15 January 2010. Further details and forms may be obtained by using the link below.

http://www.history.ac.uk/awards/prizes#mellon

Please inform and encourage your doctoral students to apply for these fellowships, where appropriate. This is a valuable opportunity for students who would benefit from carrying out work in original source materials held in the United Kingdom, but who otherwise might not be able to undertake such extensive research.

If you wish to join a mailing list making you aware of the University of London's academic resources and events,  send an email to James.Lees@sas.ac.uk.

For more information, contact

James Lees

Fellowship Officer
Institute of Historical Research
University of London
Senate House
Malet Street
London
WC1E 7HU

Tel: 0207 862 8747
Fax: 0207 862 8745

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Next July, the annual conference of the Institute of Historical Research is taking as its theme environmental history. Over two days we shall feature a series of lectures, panels, policy forums, exhibitions and book launches devoted to this exciting field. We have lined up some of the world's top experts as keynote speakers: William Beinart, Alfred Crosby, Harriet Ritvo and Donald Worster, and shall be ensuring that there is full press coverage. We anticipate over 300 registrations.

I am writing now to give you advance warning of the event, at which I hope very much you will wish to join us in some shape of form. We will be back in the South Block of Senate House, ie: using the Beveridge Hall and the surrounding reception area and galleries for the main events. Do let us know as soon as possible if you would like to be involved, and please pass on news of the conference to your colleagues and graduate students. Details of the cfp are below.

As always, we are grateful for your support, and may I thank those NABCS colleagues particularly for helping to make Cities in 2009 such a success. The Anglo-American conference has been running at the IHR since 1921 and is the main national history event of the academic calendar. This is a wonderful opportunity for us and for you to communicate to the wider history community some of the findings and concerns of the environmental sector past, present and future.

I shall be attending the NACBS in Louisville next month and looking forward to updating you with more news on the AA2010 and other IHR developments then.

Yours sincerely,

(Professor) Miles Taylor, 
Director of the Institute of Historical Research
Anglo-American Conference 2010: Environments
Call for papers now open at www.history.ac.uk/aac2010

For further details please contact: jennifer.wallis@sas.ac.uk

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October
10
2009

Bernard Semmel (1928-2008)

Posted by jaskelly under Obituaries | 0 Comments

Bernard Semmel, a distinguished historian of modern Britain and longtime member of the North American Conference of British Studies, died on August 18, 2008. He published eleven books as well as dozens of articles and reviews in major journals in the United States, Britain, and Canada. He had few equals in the breath and depth of his knowledge of the Victorian and Edwardian intellectual milieu. His books ranged from his first, Imperialism and Social Reform: English Social-Imperial Thought, 1895-1914 (1960), which remains a classic in its field, to his last, George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance (1994).

During his long career, he received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim foundation, and the National Humanities Center. He was the editor of the Journal of British Studies from 1969-1974 and a member of the Royal Historical Society.

Professor Semmel received his BA from the College of the City of New York and his MA. And Ph.D from Columbia University. He began his teaching career in 1956 at Park College, Parkville, Missouri. In 1960 he joined the faculty of the Long Island Center of the State University of New York at Oyster Bay, which moved to its permanent home at Stony Brook in 1962. He chaired the department from 1966-1969. After he retired, he became a Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Throughout his career, he was a dedicated and inspiring teacher and mentor. His student, Mrinalini Sinha, praised him for his intellectual integrity, his demonstration through his own work that disciplinary boundaries are historically contingent, and his success in linking his principled traditionalism to a radically liberating view of the historian.

Semmel is survived by his wife Maxine, his son Stuart and daughter-in-law Tina, and four grandchildren. His family, friends, colleagues, and students will remember him as a tough-minded, but always generous and compassionate teacher, intellectual, and human being.

Barbara Harris with help from Mrinilini Sinha.

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October
8
2009

NACBS Accommodations

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Conferences, NACBS | 0 Comments

Due to the high demand for NACBS Rooms at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, we may run out of accommodation there at the Conference rate.   We advise those who are unable to secure rooms at the Hyatt to book at the adjacent Marriott Louisville Downtown, which is the headquarters hotel for the concurrent Southern Historical Association Meeting.  At present, rooms are available there for $115 per night.  To book at the Marriott, please call (800) 533-0127 or access the online portal at http://www.uga.edu/sha/meeting/index.htm.  When booking, please ask for the Southern Historical Association rate.  We advise you to book by our deadline of October 14.  In the event that rooms become unavailable at the Marriott, please contact the conference organizers, who will make what efforts we can to secure more rooms at this late date.

Additionally, The Southern Historical Association has compiled an excellent Louisville Restaurant Guide, which can be found at http://www.uga.edu/sha/meeting/dining_guide.pdf.  During the Conference, those who are interested can also visit the Local Arrangements Table of the Southern Historical Association in the Marriott, where they can find more information and some discount opportunities for downtown restaurants.

Finally, for further information on Louisville visit the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at www.gotolouisville.com <http://www.gotolouisville.com/> .

Sincerely yours,

Lara Kriegel, NACBS Program Chair
Mark Lester, SCBS President and Local Arrangements Chair

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October
8
2009

New Reviews for September on Reviews in History

Posted by dannymillum under Announcement | Tags: book review | 0 Comments

The following reviews of interest to followers of The British and Irish Studies Intelligencer were published in August on the Institute of Historical Research’s e-journal Reviews in History.

First, Lynne Walker finds much of interest (no. 786) in Judith Neiswander’s new study of the popular literature of Victorian interior decoration, The Cosmopolitan Interior: Liberalism and the British Home 1870-1914.

Frank Turner then assesses (no. 787) Ruth Windscheffel’s attempt to find a new perspective on Gladstone through an examination of his reading habits, in Reading Gladstone.

We also have Hilda Kean’s critical take (no. 789) on A History of Attitudes and Behaviours toward Animals in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain. Anthropocentrism and the Emergence of Animals by Rob Boddice, whose reply can be found here.

Next Ariel Hessayon (no. 798) deals with a work which examines the period of gradual and informal Jewish readmission to England, Eliane Glaser’s Judaism without Jews: Philosemitism and Christian Polemic in Early Modern England. Her response can be read here.

Finally there is an amicable exchange (no. 799 and response) between Gareth Atkins and Richard Blake over the latter’s exploration of the increasing concern for spiritual and moral wellbeing in the British Navy in his Evangelicals in the Royal Navy, 1775–1815: Blue Lights and Psalm-Singers.

As ever, please feel free to send all comments, including suggestions for books you would like to see on Reviews in History to the deputy editor Danny Millum.

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October
5
2009

2010 NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP COMPETITION

Posted by jaskelly under Announcement, Grants and Awards | 0 Comments

2010 NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP COMPETITION

The NACBS, in collaboration with the Huntington Library, offers annually the NACBS-HUNTINGTON LIBRARY FELLOWSHIP to aid in dissertation research in British Studies using the collections of the library.  The amount of the fellowship is $2000.  A requirement for holding the fellowship is that the time of tenure be spent in residence at the Huntington Library.  The time of residence varies, but may be as brief as one month. Applicants must be U. S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents and enrolled in a Ph.D. program in a U. S. or Canadian institution.

Nominations and applications for the 2010 award are invited. Please note that the timing of the competition has been moved forward to the fall, with applications due on November 30, 2009.  Applications should consist of a curriculum vitae, two supporting letters (one from the applicant's dissertation advisor), and a description of the dissertation research project. The letter should include a description of the materials to be consulted at the Huntington and the reason that these are essential sources for the dissertation.

A copy of the application package should be sent to each member of the Huntington Library Fellowship Committee listed below. Letters should be placed in sealed envelopes, signed across the flap and given to the applicant for inclusion in the application package. Applications must be postmarked by November 30, 2009. Awards will be announced by January 30, 2010. Send materials to: Professor Gary De Krey, Department of History, St Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, MN 55057 (email: dekrey@stolaf.edu), Professor Johann Sommerville, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of History, 3211 Mosse Humanities Bldg, 455 N. Park St., Madison, WI 53706 (email: jsommerv@wisc.edu), and Professor Melissa Harkrider, Department of History, Wheaton College, 501 College Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60187 (email: Melissa.L.Harkrider@wheaton.edu).

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October
1
2009

David Underdown (August 19, 1925 - September 26, 2009)

Posted by jaskelly under Obituaries | Tags: david underdown, kishlansky, underdown | 0 Comments

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you already know, David Underdown passed away on 26 September.  The following is a remembrance from Mark Kishlansky.

Best wishes,
Jason M. Kelly

David Underdown, the eminent historian of early modern England died peacefully at his home in Merced California on September 26th.  He was 84 years of age.

Educated at Wells Grammar School and Exeter College, Oxford, Underdown served in the RAF during World War II after which he completed his B.A. and B. Litt.  He began a doctoral thesis under the direction of Christopher Hill but left Oxford before completing it to enroll in the Graduate School of Yale University where he received an M.A. in American history.

Underdown taught at the University of the South (1953-62) where an endowed history chair in his name commemorates his service; at the University of Virginia (1962-68); at Brown University (1968-8 6) where he was the Monro-Goodwin Wilkinson Professor of European History; and at Yale University (1986-94) from which he retired as the George Burton Adams Professor Emeritus in 1996. Among his many honors he was chosen to receive the AHA's award for scholarly distinction in 1995, was a corresponding fellow of the British Academy, delivered the Prothero Lecture to the Royal Historical Society in 1980 and gave the Ford Lectures at the University of Oxford in 1992. He was twice a Guggenheim Fellow.

Underdown's lifelong scholarly interests centered upon early modern Britain and were especially focused on the English Revolution, its causes and consequences.  He worked on this from a variety of perspectives from the politics of royalism (Royalist Conspiracies in England (1960) to those of the parliamentarians (Pride's Purge, 1971; A Freeborn People (1996)); from localism (Somerset in the Civil War and Interregnum (1973) and Fire from Heaven (1992); to cultural beliefs and practices (Revel, Riot, and Rebellion (1985).  His work displayed two abiding qualities: a mastery of archival sources faithfully reported, and a compelling prose style that carried both story and argument.  He was a craftsman's craftsman, a master of sources, of historiography, and of method who had few equals even among a flashy generation of generalists whose big theses dominated discussion but faded over time while his solid conclusions persevered.

He was a dedicated and attentive teacher who inspired numerous students to follow in his professional footsteps. In lecture hall and tutorial he communicated his passion for the past with quiet certitude and a wry sense of humor.  He was generous with his time and his advice and he wrote more than one doctoral dissertation in a supervisory capacity.

Though personally shy and reticent, he could be transformed by any mention of cricket, one of his life-long passions. He was a member of the Somerset cricket club and rarely missed a match when in England.  His students were instructed never to interrupt him when the BBC world service was reporting scores.  His final book, Start of Play (2000) was a scholarly account of the origins of the modern game.  Though based on solid archival study it most clearly enunciated his own passions and preferences for the amateur, the independent backbencher "agin the government", and the free rural small holder who loved the land he lived on.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Amussen, and three sons from a previous marriage.

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