The BAAS Awards 2023
BAAS are pleased to share details of the 2023 BAAS Awards which were announced at our awards ceremony on Friday June 16th 2023. The winners in each category for 2023 are shared below.
Arthur Miller Book Prize
The Arthur Miller Institute First Book Prize of £500 is awarded for the best first book on any American Studies topic in the preceding calendar year by a United Kingdom citizen based at home or abroad or by a non-UK citizen who publishes a book, providing that the entrant is a member of the British Association of American Studies in the year of submission.
BAAS would like to extend a big thank you to Emma Long, at UEA, who coordinates this book prize (and the article prize)
Winner: Dr Charlie Jeffries (Sussex) – Teenage Dreams: Girlhood Sexualities in the US Culture Wars (Rutgers University Press, 2022)
The panel commented: “Teenage Dreams is a tour de force of social and cultural history with forays into political and legal history too. While girlhood studies are now a well-recognized subfield of study, the book is deeply original in its framing of girls/young women as a flashpoint of the post-1960s culture wars. The focus on the activism of young women of colour is also original and deeply needed. As such, the book offers a reinterpretation of the culture wars focused on female sexuality which illuminates and challenges traditional narratives of the period, telling stories of inclusion and exclusion, of gender, race, and sexuality, over three decades all the while seeing teenage girls as agents rather than tools/instruments of culture wars. Teenage Dreams has huge potential for use pedagogically as well as being a scholarly work of American Studies – interdisciplinary, politically engaged and with great resonance for the present as well as potentially reframing how we view the past.”
Arthur Miller Journal Article Prize
Winner: Dr Katharina Rietzler (Sussex) – Diplomatic History article, “US Foreign Policy Think Tanks and Women’s Intellectual Labor, 1920-1950”
Honourable mention: Dr Arin Keeble (Edinburgh Napier) – “The End of the 90s in Porochista Khakpour’s The Last Illusion, Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” published in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction.
School Essay Award
Winner: Max Hitchen (Eton College) – The Impact of the New Deal on African Americans
This is a confident and well written essay that engages critically with key historiography on the long civil rights movement. A clear, compelling and innovative argument is made throughout.
Runner up/Honourable Mention: Eva Speight (Yarm School) – ‘The Land of the Free’: how has voter suppression impacted POC’s in America and how will it affect them in the future?
A politically engaged essay that crosses disciplinary boundaries. The essay effectively synthesises a range of sources to make a compelling argument.
School Essay Award for Students of Colour
Winner: Thomas Sharma (Queen Mary’s Grammar School) – How has the Supreme Court been affected by growing polarisation in American politics?
This essay was focused and makes a clear and compelling argument throughout, showing how present Supreme Court function is a departure from previous eras; the author cites primary Supreme Court sources and good modern-day news sources and makes sure that claims are always backed up with evidence and support their main thesis. Overall, this was well researched, written and referenced.
Runner up/Honourable Mention: Rohan Noble (Queen Mary’s Grammar School) – How far has the African American fight for equality really come since the 13th amendment?
This essay offered some good analysis when focused on economic issues providing stats to back-up points, and the writer demonstrated good research skills in their use of reputable online sources. In service of their arguments, this author showed good analysis of evidence which is used well to back up their claims. Good amount of research included and referenced in the essay.
The 2023 Barringer/Monticello Award enables a teacher based in the UK to attend the Monticello Teacher Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia- a week-long immersive, professional development programme – that provides educators the opportunity to research and learn in Charlottesville. The award comes with full funding, including return travel to the UK, accommodation and food, and is made possible thanks to BAAS, in conjunction with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the International Centre for Jefferson Studies.
Winner: Rory Reynolds (Queen Mary’s Grammar School)
The teacher of two of the previous students, too, gets an award!
Rory, As Head of Department, has embedded the study of US history throughout each Key Stage, ensuring that there is a sustained understanding of US studies throughout a pupil’s time in the school. The institute will be of great use for his A level students who study AQA’s The USA: The Making of a Superpower 1865-1975.
Undergraduate Essay Award
Winner: Klara Ismail (Exeter) – Beyond Language: Non-lexical Modes of Expression in Richard Bruce Nugent’s “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” and Djuna Barnes’ Ladies’ Almanack
This was an insightful and sharp analysis of non-lexicality and queer textual silences. It manages to do a great deal in a short space. There was some delightfully original engagement with queer use of silence and the non-lexical as communicative modes. The synthesis of Barnes and Nugent was also thoughtful and effective. Overall, an outstanding and creative approach to some challenging texts, combining an insightful reading with precise analysis.
Honourable Mention: Abigail Cann (Manchester) – How did the Manchester Union and Emancipation Society support the American Civil War?
This essay featured some deeply impressive original research on an overlooked archive. There is assured engagement with an impressive range of scholarship, as well as a compelling and useful excavation of an under-researched archive. Polished and confident, yet accessible in its style, this is an important contribution to scholarship on transatlantic relations.
Honourable Mention: Callum O’Kane (KCL) – How the ‘New Black American Smart Cinema’ Broke the Idle Hands of Hollywood
This essay contained some compelling work situating Baldwin’s text within the context of film studies – this demonstrated some pleasing interdisciplinary thinking. The author’s impressive close-reading skills were also showcased effectively throughout the essay. Overall, an exciting approach, which makes an important contribution to diversifying film studies. The level of detail is impressive and the essay is well argued throughout.
Postgraduate Essay Award
Winner: William Rees (Exeter) – Comedy and Indigenous Survivance in the Music of Keith Secola
This was a fascinating essay about the role of humour in indigenous survivance through the analysis of two songs by Keith Secola. Compellingly written and convincing, drawing on both theoretical frameworks and original research to make a convincing case. The writer provides some good close reading analysis and makes interesting points about war, trauma, and gender in relation to bodies.
BAAS Book Prize
Winner: James West (Northumbria) – A House for the Struggle: The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago
E. James West’s A House for the Struggle, from University of Illinois Press, is an original, rigorous, and well-written exploration of the Black press and its architecture. In West’s blend of print history, architecture, activism, Black Studies and beyond, this cultural history about Chicago tells us much about race in the twentieth-century United States. Rather than just explore print culture, he asks where periodicals were published from, and in asking this question he uncovers architecturally distinctive buildings and kitchen tables borrowed between mealtimes. This book is a model example of interdisciplinary American Studies, and it pushes the field forward in important ways. The judging panel noted its scrupulous and innovative framework, particularly the methodology of “reading between the bricks,” which tied discussions of print culture to lived, material realities.
James is the author of another monograph published in 2022, Our Kind of Historian: The Work and Activism of Lerone Bennett Jr., published the University of Massachusetts Press. The panel congratulates James on this honour and on his extraordinary body of scholarship.
Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), University of Wyoming
Winner: Georgina Mullins (Manchester)
Georgina will be studying the displacement of Native Americans and the contemporary implications of how this has been interpreted. The panel was very impressed with her application, writing: “Not only does your academic track record demonstrate your intellectual aptitude and flexibility, but your statement of purpose clearly illustrates that you have thought carefully about how the University of Wyoming would deepen your understanding of indigenous culture and history. We were also struck by your existing experience in independent research and extra-curricular involvement in pedagogical design. With this background, and the resilience and enthusiasm you amply demonstrate in your statement, we are convinced you would be a valuable and active member of the University of Wyoming community.”
Research Assistance Awards
The Research Assistance Awards are core to BAAS’ fundamental mission which is to promote, support and encourage the study of the United States. In 2022, these awards were expanded to include remote research assistance and happily, a number of the awards we’re giving today are for remote research assistance.
Beginning in 2023 onwards, the Research Assistance Awards have been re-named to the “BAAS Research Awards” and career stages have been removed from the awards. Now, instead of postgraduate, early, career, and founders awards, we have a general category of research assistance awards. This change has been made in recognition that these career stage labels don’t always reflect someone’s career stage or engagement with American Studies. That said, we’ll introduce the winners in two groups starting with postgraduate researchers.
Postgraduate Research Assistance Awards
- Jamie Danis, University of Cambridge, “I Have Nothing to Say and I’m Saying It: Silence, Withdrawal, and Refusal in American Art 1947–1996”
- Jessica Eastland-Underwood, University of Warwick, “How did everyday conceptions of ‘the economy’ mobilise protesters during the Covid-19 pandemic in the USA?”
- Jennafer Holt, University of Central Lancashire, “Reclaiming the stage Black Atlantic Interventions in Musical Theatre, From In Dahomey; A Negro American Comedy to Hamilton; An American Musical”
- Rosalind Hulse, Royal Holloway, “Holocaust controversies: the negotiation between American collective memory and elite discourse of the Holocaust within public high school education (1967-2019)”
- Cecily Proctor, University of Sussex, “Black Chautauquans: African American Progressivism, Citizenship, and Public Culture during the ‘Nadir’, 1870 – 1920”
- Katie Pruszynski, University of Sheffield, “Trump Priming: exploring the impact of elite lies on democratic health”
- Marie Puysségur, University of Cambridge, “The Southern Diaspora in American Social Thought, 1930-1974”
- Amanda Stafford, University of Leeds, “The Great Speckled Bird, the New Left and the Radical Press in Georgia, 1968-1976”
- Sam Thoburn, University of Manchester, “Manufacturing Modernity: Black Detroit in the New Negro Era”
Research Assistance Awards
- J. Michelle Coghlan, University of Manchester, “Louise Michel in America”
- Jo Metcalf, University of Hull, “In the Long Run: Luis J Rodriguez’s Life and Legacy”
- Sorcha Ni Fhlainn, Manchester Metropolitan University, “It’s About Time: the creative partnership of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale”
- Paul Williams, University of Exeter, “Comix Beyond the Underground”
BAAS would like to thank everyone who took the time to apply for a BAAS Award in 2023 and to our Awards Sub Committee; Dr Elsa Devienne, Dr Chris Lloyd, Dr Sarah Thelen and Dr Jon Ward for their work in organising and managing the awards process. We welcome our incomming Awards Sub Committee for the 2024 awards; Michael Docherty, Christine Okoth, Rebecca Stone, Catherine Armstrong.