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NACBS Prizes 2009

Published: August 23, 2012

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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