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NACBS Dissertation Fellowship


The NACBS Dissertation Fellowship is awarded to support dissertation research in the British Isles on any topic of British (including Scottish, Irish and Imperial) history or British Studies. The Fellowship consists of a $10,000 stipend. Two runners-up will receive a $5,000 Dissertation Travel Grant. Each advisor may nominate one candidate enrolled in a Ph.D. program in a U.S. or Canadian institution.



Each advisor may nominate one candidate enrolled in a Ph.D. program in a U.S. or Canadian institution. At the time of application, the nominee must have completed all degree requirements save the dissertation.

  • The nomination must be made by the student's dissertation advisor, supported by one additional letter of recommendation. The nominating advisor and the nominee must both be members of the NACBS. It is not necessary for the additional referee to be an NACBS member.

  • The candidate must need to travel to the British Isles for the purpose of dissertation research. The fellowship awardee must conduct full-time research in the British Isles for an extended stay of at least a three-month duration. Travel grant awardees may conduct shorter research trips.

  • These fellowships may be held concurrently with other awards.

  • Winners must utilize these fellowships by August 31, 2025 and must also submit, by this date, a financial report on the use of the funds.

Procedures for Application:

The application consists of the two letters of nomination and recommendation described above; a one-page curriculum vitae of the candidate; and a 1000-word research proposal written by the candidate, which should explain the importance of the topic to the field of British history and include a description of the relevant primary materials that are to be consulted in the British Isles. (Citations count toward the 1000-word limit.) Appended to the CV should be a list of the financial support (source, type and amount) received by the applicant since the beginning of graduate study, and an indication of any current pending applications for financial aid to support dissertation research.

Letters of reference should address themselves not only to the student's past record, but also to the importance of the topic and the need to pursue research in the British Isles. The major advisor, in endorsing the candidate, is also confirming the ABD status of the candidate and the financial information requested above.

Submit the application package as a single document (either WORD or PDF) through the link below. Referees should submit letters of reference via the “Letter of Recommendation” link. Applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on May 1, 2024. The application file should be named (APPLICANT’S LAST NAME_Application) and letters of recommendation files should be named (APPLICANT’S LAST NAME_Letter_REFEREE’S LAST NAME).


Daniel Livesay (Chair)

Claremont McKenna College

Matthew Mitchell

The University of the South

Averill Earls

St. Olaf College

Due Date

May 1, 2024 at 11:59PM

Previous Winners


Magdalene Klassen, (Johns Hopkins University), "Friendly Warnings: Work, Sex, and Young Women Travelling through London, 1885-1925."

  • Klassen’s dissertation examines young women migrating through London, and the work that they performed – including sexual labor – in the capital. By integrating her study of women’s labor with the larger cultural forces intent on reforming sex work at the time, Klassen’s project opens up vital new conversations on gender, race, and morality in Victorian Britain.

This year, the NACBS made four awards for dissertation travel grants

  • Anna Roberts, (Johns Hopkins University) "Snuff and Snuffboxes in the British Isles and the British Empire, 1660-1867" 

  • Courtney MacPhee, (Stanford University) "Apocalyptic Empire: Millenarian Visions for a British Empire in the Early Modern Atlantic" 

  • Kristen Thomas-McGill, (University of California, Santa Barbara), "'Now I am Going to Tell You about Sir Hector Macdonald': A Cultural Biography of Memorialization and Child Sexual Abuse in the British Empire" 

  • Xiaoyu Gao, (University of Chicago),

    "Empire of Copper: British Global Trade, Counterfeiting Copper Cash, and China Currency in the Long 19th Century" 


Stephanie Makowski (City University of New York), “From Riot to War and Back Again: Interracial Relationships in Britain from the Interwar to the Postwar.”

  • Stephanie Makowski’s dissertation project on interracial relationships in Britain from 1919 through the 1960s asks vital and pressing questions about the intersection of race with class and gender in British public life.  It offers new insights into the power of British public discourse by studying how a public preoccupation with relationships between men of color and working-class white women connected up with colonial rhetorics strengthening racist ideals both at home and abroad. Makowski’s project promises to chart not only the growth of networks promulgating racist ideals, but also the global networks combatting those racist political projects, using interracial relationships as a lens to understand the “battles over public space and British identity” in this key period.


Claire Arnold (Northwestern University), “The Demands of Distance: British Families around the World, 1815- 1914.”

  • Arnold's dissertation investigates middle-class migration to Argentina, China, and Australia, three regions that also attracted significant professional migration and investment over the nineteenth century. Bringing these destinations into the same frame, she argues that middle-class migrants and the family networks that backed them were a significant force not just in empire, but in the wider British world. Arnold's project raises intriguing questions about power, class, and ultimately the creation of the nuclear family.

Alison Hight (Rutgers University), "State Making and the Construction of Four Nations and Imperial Consciousness in Victorian Britain."

  • Hight's dissertation explores the emergence of tensions within the "four nations" of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century. As reformers and nationalists made the case for self-government and demanded distinctive national institutions (especially educational ones), both the four nations and colonies across the empire created began to borrow from one another's ideas and tactics. Hight also attends to the ways that celebrations of institutions that seemed to bind Britons together - including the monarchy - became ways to articulate a sense of national distinctiveness. All this ultimately laid the foundations for successful independence movements in the empire and for tensions that continue to exist at the heart of the United Kingdom today.

Claire Wrigley (University of California, Berkeley), "Family, Nation, Empire: An Imperial History of Public Housing in Britain, 1890-2017."

  • Through a study of public housing that reveals it to be a crucial site in the renegotiation of citizenship, this dissertation builds on our understanding of how the making of the welfare state in Britain was entangled with the imperial project of making better British subjects. Nurturing and rewarding the "fitness" of White and non-White subjects in Britain was a key part of that project in ways that Wrigley explores in a wide-ranging set of case studies. These case studies attend to the ways that a sense of the "fitness" of subjects was bound up with evolving conceptions of not only gender, class, and race, but also the imperial politics of the family and the private sphere.


Julie Johnson (University of California-Santa Barbara), “Commodifying Contraception: A Political Economy of Sex in Interwar Britain”

  • Johnson’s dissertation examines the “social life” of the cervical cap in the context of the rise of eugenics, evolving conceptions of national identity, and the reformulation of ideas about the family amid the social and cultural upheavals of interwar Britain.  In so doing, it brings together the histories of production and consumption, sexual freedom and regulation, political economy and medicine, inequality and social mobility. 


Louisa Foroughi (Fordham University), “What Makes a Yeoman? Status, Religion, and Material Culture in Later Medieval England.”

  • Foroughi’s dissertation examines the English yeomanry from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. Yeoman, she explains, occupied a middling rank in late-medieval England, above the peasantry but beneath the gentry, and its numbers and significance rose throughout the fifteenth century. Through the examination of court records, wills and testaments, and case studies, Foroughi reveals the role of both material culture and religious belief in the making of this social group previously more familiar to early modernists. Most importantly, Foroughi has developed a series of questions – and ways to go about answering them – that recover the role of women and gender in the yeomanry’s making – something that was not high on the list of historians’ priorities in 1942, the last time the yeomanry figured as the subject of a comparable monograph. Yet the yeomanry’s position, Foroughi shows, was only made possible through the dowries brought by wives and daughters, the values transmitted from mothers to children, and the maintenance of households that partly depended upon women’s labor. To recover these aspects of late medieval and early modern social history, Foroughi’s dissertation ingeniously draws upon literary studies, religious studies, and anthropology, in order to make visible the role of women and of gender in the making of the English yeoman class.  


Jessica Price (Cornell University), “Demons of Empire: Demonology and Ethnicity in English Restoration Thought” 

  • Price’s dissertation will interrogate East India Company records from the late seventeenth century in a new and exciting way: to investigate how English merchants working for the Company in South Asia encountered and understood ideas of witchcraft and demonology.  When prosecuting locals for “witchcraft,” what resources and ideas did English merchants draw from and construct, and how did this in turn contribute to the generation of “demonological knowledge” during the so-called early Enlightenment?  This promises to be an important contribution to the intellectual history of English demonology from a time period and source base not usually associated with such ideas while at the same time exploring the East India Company as more than just a commercial or diplomatic entity.


Ruby Daily (Northwestern University), “Sex and Violence in Modern Britain” 

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