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Undergraduate Essay Prize


Each year the NACBS awards up to eight prizes of $100 each to the best essays on British topics submitted by undergraduates studying in American and Canadian universities. Essays may be from any department –History, English, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, etc.–as long as they relate to British Studies and date from the 2023-24 academic year.


Essays must have been written while the author was a degree-seeking undergraduate at a U.S. or Canadian college or university. Essays should be no longer than 25 double-spaced pages (please, no full theses—if the submission is drawn from a thesis project it must be excerpted).

Submissions must be accompanied by a nominating letter from the instructor who taught the course or supervised the independent project for which the essay was written. Nominators may submit one paper per course/seminar, and as many of their strongest independent projects as they feel are deserving of the award. Nominating faculty must be current members of the NACBS.

Please include the permanent mailing address and email contact information for the student.

Prize Committee

Romita Ray (Chair)

Syracuse University

Jonathan Connolly

University of Illinois, Chicago

Allison Abra 

St. John's College, University of Manitoba

Due Date

June 30, 2024

Previous Winners


  • Ava Thompson, University of California, Santa Barbara. “‘Children like mine’: The Evolution of Discourse on the Irish Unmarried Mother and Institutional Mistreatment from 1922-1973.” Nominated By Jarrett Henderson.

  • Mrinalini Sisodia Wadhwa, Columbia University. “’An Appalling Document’: A Comparative Analysis of James Bryce’s 1915-16 Reports on German and Ottoman Atrocities in Wartime Britain.” Nominated by Susan Pedersen.


  • Hannah Badovinac, Dalhousie University, “The ‘Crying Sin of Tolerated Slavery’: Granville Sharp’s Campaign for Liberty, Justice, and Abolition in Eighteenth-Century England.” Nominated by Krista Kesselring.

  • Quinn Downton, Wilfrid Laurier University, “’Hounding the King of the Devil Cults’: Aleister Crowley, Scandal and the Press.” Nominated by Amy Milne-Smith.

  • Georg Gaidoschik, McGill University,  “Hillsborough: a case study of how “establishment versus the people” dynamics come into play in modern Britain.” Nominated by Elizabeth Elbourne.

  • Signy Harnad, McGill University, “The Old Past in the Living Present: Cultural Constructions of the Aged Poor, c 1870-1900.” Nominated by Elizabeth Elbourne.

  • Genowefa Kleiner, McGill University, “The Effects of the National Health Service on Maternity Care in Britain, 1948-1974.” Nominated by Elizabeth Elbourne.

  • Maya Peters-Greno, Idaho State University, “Colonized Garments as Colonizer Trends: The Case of Asian Conical Hats in Western Fashions 1840-1960.” Nominated by Arunima Datta.

  • Kara Start, Covenant College, “’We’re Here Because We’re Here’: Music and Song Behind British Lines During the Great War.” Nominated by Richard R. Follett.

  • Emily Wunsch, Grinnell College, “Empire After All: The Decolonization of the Churches of Punjab.” Nominated by Elizabeth Prevost.


  • John Ellis (University of Nebraska), “Sir Francis Walsingham and Roberto Ridolfi: A Critical Analysis of the Ridolfi Double-Agent Theory,” nominated by Carole Levin.

  • Brianna Cervantes Reisbeck (University of California, Riverside), “Advertising Revolution: The Emergence of Advertising in British Newsbooks in the 1600s,” nominated by Thomas Cogswell.


  • Emma Davidson (McGill University), nominated by Brian Cowan, “The Medieval English Ghost and Disease: An Analysis of the Twelfth-Century Revenant”

  • Erica Ivins (Hamilton College), nominated by Kevin Grant, “The Fact and Fiction of Joseph Conrad’s Humanitarian Politics”

  • Mayaki Kimba (Reed College), nominated by Radhika Natarajan, “Omission Equals Exclusion: Social Citizenship and the Racist Rejection of Migrants

  • Lucy Leonard (Vassar College), nominated by Lydia Murdoch, “The Men of Mrs. Beeton: Finding Middle-Class Gender Dynamics between Puddings and Protocol”

  • Maya Arigala (Reed College), nominated by - Radhika Natarajan, “Melancholic Migrants and Hybridized Space in The Buddha of Suburbia”


  • Vincent Costa (Drew University), “‘Here We Have a Special Way of Waging War’: British Military Adaptations to Warfare in North America.” Nominated by Jonathan Rose.

  • Hannah Healy (Columbia University), “Margaret Thatcher and Navigating the Issue of Abortion.” Nominated by Sarah Mass.

  • Andrew Sobelsohn (Columbia University), “The Grave Problem of Peace in Palestine: Norman Bentwich and the British Military Administration’s Reestablishment and Restructuring of the Palestine Judicial System, 1917-1919.” Nominated by Anna K. Danziger Halperin.

  • Allie Spensley (Princeton University), “The making of manly, god-fearing citizens: Masculinity and domesticity in the Boy’s Own Paper, 1879-1900.” Nominated by Eleanor Hubbard.

  • Sarah Walker (Columbia University), “‘Surely There are Enough’: Lone Motherhood and Narratives of Moral Decline in Late Twentieth-Century Britain.” Nominated by Sarah Mass. 


  • Rodas Hailu (Grinnell College), “Challenging the Colonial Imaginary: How Fictionalized Characterizations of Gender Difference Informed the Mau Mau Emergency, 1952-1960”

  • Matthew Henzy (Grinnell College), “The Lady Behind the Veil: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and the 1981 Long Kesh Hunger Strikes”

  • Sabrina Khela (University of Toronto-Scarborough), “Early Modern Gendered Soundscapes: Silence, Speech, and Acoustic Agency in King Lear” 

  • James G. Lees (Dalhousie University), “An Intergenerational Thaw: The Anglo-Saxon Reception of Christianity in Kent and Essex” 

  • Diana Little (McGill University), “Icons of Landscape: Biblical Mapping in Early Protestant England”

  • Morgan McMinn (West Virginia University), “Corporate vs. Individual: A Study of Reputation in the Diocese of Lincoln under Bishop WIlliam Alnwich, 1436-1449”

  • Benjamin Peterson (Westmont College), “From Moral Betrayal to Imperial Decline: Reconceptualizing the defeat of the Armenian Republic and Britain’s diplomatic strength immediately after World War One”

  • Anna Stroinski (Boston University), “God Save the Alternative Jubilee: The Sex Pistols and Meaningful Monarchical Engagement”

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