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May
2
2018

The British Empire in Eight Objects

Posted by rdaily | 0 Comments

This is the second in a series of posts on "Teaching Britain and the World." The NACBS would like to thank Britain and the World for permission to cross-post these blogs. To learn more about the group, see: https://britainandtheworld.org/ 

Last semester I taught an upper-level undergraduate course called Britain and Empire, c. 1500-present.  The thematic or narrative arc of the course is the making and breaking of Britain.  Having such a broad chronology is both daunting and liberating – for me and for my students. I recognize that adequately covering the material for such a broad chronology is impossible, but having chosen a coherent theme I felt less pressure to spew information like a firehose and more at liberty to judiciously choose specific examples, readings, and sources that illustrate my larger narrative.  My students were provided assigned readings focusing on topics that I found especially significant or important (primarily identity and nationalism).  Yet, I was acutely aware of how many subjects I was unable to discuss or bring to their attention.  It was therefore imperative to create assignments that enabled students to actively pursue topics of interest to them.

This posed some interesting pedagogical problems.  In my experience, many students struggle when given too much freedom choosing their own research topics.  An open-ended research question petrifies them, and overwhelmed, they have trouble starting a project.  Yet recent studies suggest that students will better engage with a project and retain more information when their curiosity is sufficiently engaged.[1]  So how do we both motivate by engaging curiosity while also providing necessary direction?  This semester I sought to design my course so as to more effectively strike the balance between these objectives.  Moreover, I did so by progressively introducing more freedom with each assignment.

In many respects, I designed a fairly traditional course.  Each student had to write two brief papers (1700 words) responding to questions provided in advance early in the semester.  Although the more intrepid or experienced students were allowed to develop research questions of their own, this was not required.  However, the questions I provided were quite broad, thus providing students the comfort of direction with just enough freedom to pursue topics from a variety of angles as they saw fit.  This is, of course, not a novel idea. 

The final project, on the other hand, was different than anything I’ve ever seen or assigned. Having been inspired by the variety of papers and sources I encountered at the Britain and the World conference in April, 2017, I was determined to create an assignment that would give students a small glimpse of this variety.  Moreover, I wanted to provide them with the freedom to pursue subjects that best represented their interests and encourage them to actively create and communicate a narrative which might be at odds with that which I had been presenting throughout the semester. 

I assigned a final project with three primary goals in mind: spark student interest, generate interesting debate, and introduce students to a broader understanding of primary sources. In order to accomplish this each student had to do four things:

1) Choose a theme (empire, gender, militarism, domesticity, industry, politics, etc.)

2) Develop a narrative

3) Choose 5-8 objects (very loosely defined), one from at least four separate centuries, that illustrate the theme and narrative. 

4) Present to the class a brief (10-15) narrative of British history using their objects as sources. 

I provided students links to numerous museums where they could browse the holdings, and from which they were meant to select their objects (though they could use other museum holdings if they let me know in advance).  I also provided them with some background readings on material culture. 

The variety of themes and sources students selected was encouraging.  These included “textiles and empire”, “medicine and progress”, “power”, “food and empire”, and “fashion and gender”.  Objects ranged from the obvious (spinning jenny) to the more obscure (ostrich feather hats and a pulse clock). 

I envisioned this to be an engaging and fun summative assignment that would motivate student learning, and overall I think this assignment worked.  Students enjoyed working on the project and, partly because it was a presentation, felt less pressure in the final weeks of the semester

than they might have felt with a more traditional term paper.  I hoped that the benefits of the assignment would be both individual and corporate.  As each student presented they would reinforce the chronology of the period for themselves and for their peers even if their emphasis on events and ideas differed.  Moreover, I was hoping they would bring to light some themes that I had not sufficiently addressed such as gender and domesticity.  The presentation of different objects by different students provided a stimulating way of introducing the whole class to a variety of themes, sources, objects, and topics they would not have encountered otherwise. Finally, I hoped the presentations would provoke some interesting discussion about how we as historians construct narratives and assign meaning to objects.

While the assignment worked in some respects, there were some notable weaknesses. First, while certain objects piqued the interest of the class and prompted some good questions, I’m not sure students were equipped to confidently critique competing narratives and I need to do more in the future to prepare them for such a task – although I’m not sure how. Second, some of the presentations relied on very obvious objects, and I need to find a way to force students to think more creatively while continuing to allow a sufficient measure of freedom. 

I plan to assign the project again because the successes far outweighed the weaknesses.  But before I do, I need to rethink how best to modify it in order to make it more successful and this, dear readers, is where you come in.  What would make this assignment more effective?  What readings, objects, or examples might I provided to better help students succeed?  If you have suggestions, please send them to me via email at [email protected] or on twitter @dparrish.

David Parrish

Assistant Professor of Humanities

College of the Ozarks


[1] See especially Sarah Rose Cavanagh, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion, (2016)

 

 

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April
27
2018

NACBS Call for Part-Time Executive Director

Posted by rdaily under executive director | Tags: NACBS | 0 Comments

The North American Conference on British Studies invites proposals for a part-time Executive Director. NACBS is particularly interested in supporting a position that can be housed at (and employed through) a candidate’s home institution, to help give NACBS more of an institutional home.

Compensation: Equivalent of up to $20,000, inclusive.

Qualifications: Ph.D required, preferably tenured faculty member or equivalent job status, NACBS member, desirable to have experience running conferences, experience with budgets, experience in NACBS.

Term: Three years, renewable. A performance review will be conducted at the end of the first year and then biannually by a committee comprised of the President, Past President, and an elected member of Council.

Process: Please send application letter, CV, and institutional endorsement to Elizabeth Prevost, Executive Secretary, [email protected].  A committee made up of elected and appointed representatives will evaluate proposals and make a recommendation to the NACBS Executive Committee and Council. We encourage informal expressions of interest in advance of proposals and are happy to work with candidates in thinking through possible models of compensation. Review of proposals will begin on July 1, 2018, and continue until the position is filled; appointment may begin as early as Sept. 1, 2018.

The North American Conference on British Studies is a scholarly society dedicated to all aspects of the study of British civilization. The NACBS sponsors a scholarly journal, the Journal of British Studies, online publications, an annual conference, as well as several academic prizes, graduate fellowships, and undergraduate essay contests. While the largest single group of its members teach British history in colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, the NACBS has significant representation among specialists in literature, art history, politics, law, sociology, and economics. Its membership also includes many teachers at universities in countries outside North America, secondary school teachers, and independent scholars. NACBS does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, veteran status, religion, disability, creed, or any other protected class.

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Duties include:

NACBS annual meeting:

  • Help local arrangements committee select hotel
  • Review hotel contract for budget, room numbers, etc.
  • Liaise with hotel and local arrangements and program committee to set up rooms, receptions, dinners, computer facilities.
  • Liaise with hosting Regional.
  • Keep track of finances
  • Liaise with CUP about registration and membership
  • Liaise with Program Chair and CUP to administer submission process
  • Email members to remind them to register, hotel etc.
  • Track down presenters who have not registered.
  • Troubleshoot during conference.
  • Settle accounts after conference with Treasurer.

Executive committee and Council support:

    • Work with Executive Secretary to keep track of calendar of tasks and remind officers to do them.
    • Distribute or post all relevant documents.
    • Keep lists of officers and prize committees

Budget:

  • Work with treasurer and finance committee to review and execute programming initiatives.
  • Inform treasurer of checks that need to be issued.
  • Apply for Stern Grant.

Website and social media:

  • Maintain private website with documents for NACBS and private discussion forums.
  • Work with webmaster to maintain website, share announcements, and issue advocacy statements.
  • Maintain archives.

Membership:

  • Work with Media Director on blogs and newsletters.
  • Produce and send out newsletter to members every month or quarterly.
  • Maintain membership lists with CUP
  • Communicate with former members

Publicity:

  • Publicize conference
  • Recruit new membership
  • Publicize NACBS members as experts on British studies for the press

Liaise with other associations:

  • Attend ALCS annual Conference of Executive Officers and Annual Meeting, and maintain communication with CEO listserv
  • Organize AHA reception
  • Help secretaries administer other affiliate business

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Governance role: Non-voting, ex-officio seats on the Executive Committee and the Council.

 

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March
27
2018

My NACBS: David Clemis

Posted by StephenJackson under my NACBS | Tags: David Clemis, early modern, spotlight | 0 Comments

My NACBS

This is the second post in our new series designed to introduce and connect NACBS members. Taking our lead from the American Historical Association’s member spotlight posts, we hope to deepen our sense of community through short posts that delve into who we are and what we value. For more information on this new series, contact Blog editor Stephen Jackson at [email protected].

Name and title: David Clemis, Associate Professor of History, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

What are your fields of interest?

British intellectual and cultural history, 1600-1800. More particularly, the history of understandings of moral agency, cognition and identity in “the British enlightenment.” My current work is on the social and cultural history of alcohol use in England, 1600-1830.

What are you currently working on?

I am writing an article on “Galenic medicine” and conceptions of intoxication and addiction in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  This work fits into a larger study of legal and medical understandings of intoxication and addiction in early modern Britain.

Do you have a favorite archive, digital or physical? What about it draws you in? 

Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online are indispensable.  Given that where I live, I can manage only a few weeks per year in relevant physical archives.  Although the Rare Books Room of the present British Library is serviceable and pleasant, one longs for the very different atmospheres of the old round Smirke and north library reading rooms.

What is the most fascinating text, artifact or object you’ve encountered in your work?

I have recently been fascinated by Humphrey Brooke’s Ugieine or a Conservatory of Health (London, 1650). I am intrigued by the striking parallels between Brooke’s conception of the causes and nature of chronic drinking and very recent researchers’ notions of addiction, not as a disease, but rather as more of a matter of habit. Despite the obvious differences in this seventeenth-century “Galenic” physician’s views and modern neuro-scientific models, it is interesting how they both thread together the physiological effects of alcohol, the social context of its consumption, and a degree of moral agency on the part of the chronic drinker. 

What attracted you to this work? Why British Studies?

When I was undergraduate and master’s student there was much excited talk of “postmodernism.” I was rather interested in finding out what “the modern” was and where it had come from before it vanished. That led me to studies of the period 1450 to 1800. Of course, Britain and its history figured conspicuously in most accounts of the development of modernity. Further, as graduate student at the University of Toronto, I found the most interesting and challenging historians generally happened to study Britain: J. M. Beattie; Michael Finlayson; and Trevor Lloyd.

Who most influenced your academic work?

As an undergraduate studying philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Norman Brown and Carlos Prado kindled the conceptual, analytic, and epistemological character of my academic interests. While at Queen’s, the philosopher Michael Tanner, a visiting professor from Cambridge, inspired my passion for the historical study of culture. Those teachers at Queen’s lit a passion for intellectual life that thwarted my family’s intention that I should practice law.  John Beattie at the University of Toronto was an excellent teacher of social history methods, a great model of scholarly rigor and integrity, as well as an indispensable supporter of my career, however, bogged-down it has occasionally been. As a co-supervisor of my doctoral thesis and the indomitable, ebullient leader of the IHR’s “Long Eighteenth-Century Seminar,” Penelope Corfield has been wonderful inspiration for both my teaching and research. 

Less personal but important early influences on the kind of history I try to practice have been the work of E.P. Thompson, Natalie Zemon Davis, Keith Thomas, and Roy Porter. The endeavor to understand values, attitudes, and beliefs within their social contexts is a matter of great interest to me. More recently, in the field of drug and alcohol history, the work of Phil Withington, Mark Hailwood, and James Nicholls has also shaped the direction of my research interests.

Have your academic interests transformed over time?

As a graduate student, I was privileged to have John Beattie and Peter King as supervisors. Under their influence I was much engaged by the social history that developed in the 1970s and 1980s, especially the study of crime and local authority in the eighteenth century. Over time, however, my deep-seated interests in cultural history and the history of ideas have become more pronounced in my teaching and research activity. In 2001, I left England for a job in Western Canada, which meant I was able to spend only a few weeks a year in local archives, the British Library, and the National Archives. Digital versions of printed sources necessarily became by the greatest objects of my study. This has reinforced the intellectual and cultural historical turn in my work. 

Does your project have any particular relevance to the contemporary—political, social, cultural, etc.? 

Addiction is, of course, a matter of much public concern, particularly since the emergence of the opioid crisis in recent years. One hopes that historical studies of the changing conception of chronic drinking and compulsive behavior might enrich contemporary, much vexed, debates over the nature of addiction. More broadly, I hope that this kind of study of historical medical and legal texts, and the understandings they convey of human behavior, moral agency, and personal identity, will constitute some kind of contribution to wider debates within the humanities.

Do you have a favorite text to teach?

Voltaire’s Candide, which I teach in an Enlightenment survey course, is always a lot of fun for students and it nicely engages a variety of course themes. That experience tempts me to try to teach Tristram Shandy as a cultural history text in an eighteenth-century Britain course, but that seems too big a challenge and is best left to colleagues in the English Department.  The Old Bailey Online - The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 is a fabulous resource to use with students because it affords explorations of so many interesting themes. 

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

Worry about how much work I need to get done?? But, I also enjoy cycling and travel. I love reading and seeing Shakespeare performed.

 

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March
20
2018

NACBS Pre-Dissertation and Dissertation Fellowship Prizes

Posted by rdaily under prizes | Tags: dissertation, pre-dissertation | 0 Comments

The deadline for both fellowships is April 1st.

 

For more information on the NACBS Pre-Dissertation fellowship click here.

For more information on the NACBS Dissertation Fellowship click here.

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The NACBS is pleased to announce a new article prize in honor of Judith R. Walkowitz, made possible by her colleagues and former students.  A leading scholar of British social and cultural history, particularly in relation to issues of gender and sexuality, Professor Walkowitz has played a significant role in shaping the field of British Studies and the community of scholars who participate in the endeavor. The Judith R. Walkowitz Article Prize will be awarded annually for the best published article on issues relating to gender and sexuality in British culture. Prize submissions (deadline: May 1are now open to scholars resident in North America working in any time period and in any discipline in British Studies, and carries a cash award of $150. The inaugural 2018 prize will be awarded to an article published during the calendar year 2017, and announced at the 2018 annual meeting. Please see the following link for further instructions and details: http://www.nacbs.org/prizes/judith-walkowitz-article-prize

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March
9
2018

Call for Book Review Editors: Journal of British Studies

Posted by StephenJackson | Tags: book review editor, JBS | 0 Comments

The North American Conference on British Studies seeks a new book review editor or co-editors for the Journal of British Studies. The JBS, published four times a year by Cambridge University Press, is the premier journal of its kind in North America, as indicated by its very high ISI citation impact rating. It aims to be the journal of record in British studies. Each year it publishes approximately 200 book reviews from the medieval period through the twentieth century. While primarily based in history, the NACBS would like to review more works in art history, literature, historical geography, and other disciplines. Potential editors in these disciplines are encouraged to apply. We define British studies broadly to encompass England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; our readers are interested in transatlantic, transnational, and postcolonial approaches, and in the British Empire and Commonwealth.
The current editors' term ends with the October 2019 issue of the journal; new editors will begin working with the current editors by May 2019 to learn production processes and to begin soliciting reviews for a five-year term that will commence with the first issue of 2020. The Association hopes to select new editors by September 2018 to facilitate a smooth transition between current and incoming editors. Those interested should contact Paul Halliday of the University of Virginia Department of History ([email protected]). The application deadline is May 31, 2018.
Editorial subventions provide funding for an editorial assistant, but applicants will require a letter of support from their home institution(s). Current review editors Amy Harris ([email protected]) and Paul Westover ([email protected]) will be happy to answer questions about their duties. Questions can also be directed to the NACBS president, Anna Clark ([email protected]), or vice president, Paul Halliday ([email protected]).
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February
23
2018

Writing and teaching the history of modern Britain

Posted by rdaily under Blog | Tags: teaching, textbook | 0 Comments

James_Vernon_Textbook.png These are interesting times to be teaching and writing the history of modern Britain.  Britons remain often unable to acknowledge, and yet haunted by, their imperial and European histories.  The debates around Brexit and the legacies of slavery and colonialism frequently occasion an effort to restage a national past where Britons were always great, white and well-intentioned (most recently with Historians for Britain and the Ethics and Empire Project at Oxford).  That national past is endlessly recuperated in the nasty nativism on display in British television and film from Downton Abbey, The Crown, Dunkirk to whatever the latest movie is about Queen Victoria or Winston Churchill.  Not surprisingly, it is this screen history of Britain that is most familiar to students in the United States, but more worryingly it largely remains the one taught in British schools even at A-levels.  The conceit of this nationalist history is always that Britons - usually privileged, white, male ones - went out in to the world and made it in their image (and the world really should be pretty grateful).   

Now, of course, most of us who teach and write British history know how absurd this nativist history is. Wherever we work we have all had to grapple with postcolonial theory, women’s and gender history, new imperial history, indigenous history, transnational and global history.  We understand that British history, the histories of its four nations, and this very staging of white, male supremacy were products of slavery and imperialism. As universities in Australia, the United States and England increasingly advertise posts for historians of the ‘Britain and the World’, we are beginning to acknowledge that the world may have made Britain, that its history was partly shaped by transnational or global processes over which it had no control (see the forthcoming forum of ‘Britain and the World’ in Journal of British Studies, 57, 4 (2018)). Some even suggest that national histories themselves are in crisis

We should be deeply troubled by this disconnect between the work of professional historians and the resurgence of nativist histories (and not just those in post-Brexit Britain). Whatever else we may need to do to reconnect with the public the work we do as teachers seems critical to me.  Our classrooms are our first public: they are the ground zero of ‘impact’, ‘outreach’ and ‘public history’.  And while fewer students are majoring in History within the United States, Peter Mandler has suggested that the number of History degrees in Britain have been holding more or less firm.   

I have not done the math(s) but I imagine fewer people have read my work than those I have taught over the last thirty years.  And in the classroom and lecture hall we are forced outside of our academic bubble where we sometimes too comfortably assume that everyone possesses similar terms of reference and modes of thought.  Nothing was more exciting to me to move to California from Britain and discover that my students had never heard of Coventry let alone Gladstone.  They compelled me to reframe the way I taught British history by returning to classic questions about change over time – of the state, economies, environment, understandings of gender and race - that they could connect to other national and imperial histories.  I often find the critical feedback I receive from students no less helpful in making me think harder and more clearly than processes of peer review.  

It is a shame then that so much of our professional life systematically devalues teaching (except, of course, when we go on strike).  At many institutions, it is research and publishing, not teaching, that propels careers.   Even at the public university where I work writing a textbook is not considered as a publication when it comes to promotions.   And yet I have no doubt that Modern Britain 1750 to the Present, the fourth and last volume in the new Cambridge History of Britain textbook series, will be the most important book I ever publish.  It was an amazing opportunity to help inform how the next generation of undergraduates are taught the history of modern Britain.  And given that those undergraduates - in Britain as across much of the former British world – occupy a world shaped by the nativist histories endlessly repeated by politicians and dramatized on screens, it seemed a particularly timely task. 

The experience of writing this textbook was certainly humbling for it quickly exposed how little I knew about so much!  The challenge was to write a global history of Britain that reflected how the world made Britain rather more than Britain made the modern world.  I wanted to show how global processes shaped what I call the rise, fall and reinvention of liberal ideas of how markets and governments should work in the British world, as well how central violence and dispossession, at home and abroad, was to that story.  Above all it was my aim not just to castigate the past but to remake the present by reminding students that the world does change and it has been changed by those who have had the courage to challenge inequity and subjugation.

I am not sure how successful I was in worlding the history of Britain but I am a little more confident that the book should be good to teach with.   Each chapter is set up to answer a particular question about change over time and whatever you think of the explanations and arguments that follow they are designed to be accessible to students – with timelines, lots of maps and images, textboxes that zoom in on particular people, places or types of sources, guides to further secondary reading, and a glossary of key-terms.    There is also a supporting website that provides links to primary source readings, chapter summaries and study questions to help guide reading and thinking.  If any of you have used the book in a classroom I would l love to hear what works and what does not, there is lots to improve for the next edition! Please do get in touch.

I am not naïve enough to believe that we can only teach our way out of our neoliberal, nativist, present but I do think in these despairing times it is not a bad place to start.  Right, now back to the lesson plan for tomorrow.  Unless you are on strike. 

James Vernon
University of California, Berkeley
@James11Vernon

 

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February
21
2018

Deadline Extension: Workshop Calls for Proposals: Populations and Altruism

Posted by StephenJackson | 0 Comments

Workshop Calls for Proposals: Populations and Altruism

NACBS Annual Meeting

Providence, RI, October 25-28, 2018

 Early Modern Workshop Theme:

“Populations: counting, classifying, moving and managing groups of people in the early modern period”

 DEADLINE EXTENDED: MARCH 5, 2018

Materials: CV and 1-page abstract

This workshop will explore the topic of “populations” in the early modern period. How, by whom, and to what ends were groups of people defined or treated as populations? What were the intellectual and practical consequences of such classifications? What historical or historiographical legacies have they had? How do historians’ definitions of “population” replicate or resist early modern categories and practices? How do current social-scientific, political, or legal understandings of population help or hinder historical analysis? Papers may address these questions from perspectives including but not limited to migration and colonization; slavery, race and ethnicity; reproduction; medicine and health; religious and national difference; political economy and governance; political arithmetic and information.

The session will include 6-8 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages each. Participants will be chosen with a view to the complementarity of their research topics and strong preference will be given to graduate students and early career scholars. Participants must be prepared to submit their papers by September 30, 2018. Each participant will be required to read all papers for the session, and to share written comments on two of the papers, prior to the conference. The session itself will include brief presentations and discussions of each paper, followed by a more extensive conversation between participants and the audience around common questions and themes.

Those interested must submit a CV and a one-page abstract to Rachel Weil ([email protected]) and Ted McCormick ([email protected]) by MARCH 5.

 Note: Those not accepted for the early modern workshop may still submit proposals for NACBS poster sessions, or paper or panel proposals for regular NACBS sessions, by the general deadline of March 30, 2018. Some financial assistance will be available for graduate students (up to US$500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed members within ten years of their terminal degree (US$300). Details of these travel grants will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members once the 2018 meeting program is prepared.

 

Modern Workshop Theme:

 “Altruism and Its Discontents: Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development”

DEADLINE EXTENDED: MARCH 5, 2018

Materials: CV and 1-page abstract

This workshop will explore human rights, humanitarianism, and development in the modern period, c. 1800-2000, through the prism of “altruism.” While usually treated separately, each of these areas of endeavor grapples with often competing interests in projects aimed at improving the lives of others, some altruistic, others less so. We seek papers that engage critically in human rights, humanitarianism, or development, with special consideration for those positioned at their intersections. What has been the relationship between humanitarianism and discourses on human rights and how has it changed over time? How do we explain the dynamics of imperialism, internationalism, and foreign intervention? Humanitarian intervention and development? Or, empire, decolonization, and “development” projects? Where were projects made and unmade and how? What were their costs and who bore them? Where did these discourses or projects fit within anti-colonial resistance or in the civic life of post-colonial societies? While our emphasis is on British engagement in the world, we welcome equally papers that examine the reception of these projects among local populations and/or that put British actors in comparative or international context.

The session will include 6-8 pre-circulated papers of 15-25 pages each. Participants will be chosen with a view to the complementarity of their research topics and strong preference will be given to graduate students and early career scholars. Participants must be prepared to submit their papers by September 30, 2018. Each participant will be required to read all papers for the session, and to share written comments on two of the papers, prior to the conference. The session itself will include brief presentations and discussions of each paper, followed by a more extensive conversation between participants and the audience around common questions and themes.

Those interested must submit a CV and a one-page abstract to Caroline Shaw ([email protected]) and Matthew Hilton ([email protected]) by MARCH 5, 2018.

Note: Those not accepted for the workshop may still submit proposals for the NACBS poster session, or paper or panel proposals for regular NACBS sessions, by the general deadline of March 30, 2018. Some financial assistance will be available for graduate students (up to US$500) and for a limited number of under/unemployed NACBS members within ten years of their terminal degree (US$300). Details of these travel grants will be posted to www.nacbs.org and emailed to members once the 2018 meeting program is prepared.

 

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NACBS endorses the following statement issued by the AHA.

AHA Condemns Polish Law Criminalizing Public Discussion of Polish Complicity in Nazi War Crimes

The American Historical Association strongly condemns the bill drafted by the Polish legislature and signed into law by Polish President Andrzej Duda on February 6, 2018, that states, in part: "Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes — shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years."

In practice, this legislation pertains specifically to histories that document and explore Polish participation in violence against Jews during World War II. It therefore threatens free pursuit of historical inquiry.

The AHA's stance is consistent with its efforts by the Polish government or by any party to stifle speech and to restrict the content of scholarship concerned with Poland's role in the Holocaust and related war crimes. On November 14, 2016, the AHA sent a letter to President Duda expressing concern over the Polish government's treatment and potential prosecution of Jan T. Gross, professor of history at Princeton University, who was facing a libel investigation from Polish authorities for publishing historical accounts of Poles killing Jews during World War II. That letter already made clear the very real dangers, beyond the specific case of Professor Gross, of criminalizing scholars and scholarship that explored Polish involvement in the Holocaust. As we stated then: "More generally, we are concerned with the law currently being discussed in the Polish parliament that would subject to strong penalties anyone convicted of ascribing to the Polish nation or the Polish state the responsibility for crimes against humanity that prosecutors themselves attribute to other perpetrators—in the first instance, the German Third Reich. We feel strongly that this law will allow police and judicial authorities to overrule the judgments of trained historians, and that it will threaten the ability of historians to conduct impartial research that might reveal facts that these authorities find uncomfortable. No nation's past is free of blemishes, and Poland will do itself no favors in the eye of world opinion by passing such a restrictive and prejudicial piece of legislation."

The American Historical Association stands by that statement now, seeing in the new law signed on February 6 a threat both to historians' freedom of speech and to the future of historical scholarship, which depends upon open inquiry and the pursuit of impartial truth. We urge the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland to reconsider this law. longstanding objection to any and all previous

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February
9
2018

NACBS 2018 Annual Book and Article Prize Competitions

Posted by rdaily under Prize | Tags: john ben snow, stansky, walter d. love | 0 Comments

The 2018 NACBS book and article prize competitions are now open. Submissions are due April 1st, 2018. For more details, please see the links below.

John Ben Snow Prize details here.

Walter D. Love Prize details here.

Stansky Prize details here.

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