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May 2015 Newsletter

I. 2015 Britain and the World Conference Summary and Thanks, by Associate Editor Leslie Rogne Schumacher

The eighth annual Britain and the World Conference saw nearly 150 British Studies scholars from around the world gather in Austin, TX, for three beautiful spring days in early April. The conference was organized by The British Scholar Society and held at the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel – University Area. This year’s conference saw a return to the United States after 2014’s conference in Newcastle, UK. The conference in Newcastle was an event whose fantastic success set a high bar for future conferences, and we feel that the 2015 conference added admirably to the Society’s reputation for hosting exceptional conferences that are at once intellectually stimulating, friendly and welcoming, and uniquely entertaining.

Over the course of the three-day event, conference attendees enjoyed 39 panels, two roundtables, and four plenary lectures. The conference opened on Thursday with a welcome from the Society’s Board of Directors, announcing changes in the leadership and structure of the Society as well as new initiatives we have formulated to increase the reach and impact of our organization. Panels on Thursday included topics as wide-ranging as violence, gender, and Unionism in twentieth-century Ireland, British imperialism in the Mediterranean, and sexuality and Britishness in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The lunchtime lecture was delivered by The National Archives’ Juliette Desplat, who offered an illumination of the methods, principles, and goals at work at TNA, as well a wealth of information on how to best utilize TNA’s physical, digital, and human resources. The Frank M. Turner Memorial Lecture was given by Patrick Salmon, Chief Historian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose talk presented the audience with a fascinating illustration of an important and little understood line of work, i.e. the official historian. After the lecture, conference attendees met for an icebreaker at the hotel bar, which featured the British Scholar Cocktail.

Friday saw a host of interesting panels, with morning panels on such topics as travel and identity in the Stuart era, early modern British seafaring and mapping, and Indian and Bengali decolonization. The first of our two lunchtime roundtables followed, with panelists discussing the state of British society and politics in the months following the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. The afternoon saw panels on subjects like nineteenth-century prison reform and punishment and violence, hunger, and identity in colonial Africa. Following this, conference attendees convened to hear Anna Clark of the University of Minnesota deliver the Britain and the World Lecture. Dr. Clark’s talk, “The British Empire, Biopolitics, and Human Rights,” intriguingly wove together a variety of domestic British sociopolitical and cultural dynamics that contributed to a British vision of global human rights based on the sanctity, protection, and improvement of the human body. The annual conference dinner party was held Friday evening at the Scholz Beer Garten, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Austin. The excellent food, beer, and conversations that occurred over the first two were a true a highlight for many.

The final day of the conference, Saturday, saw panels on topics like early modern piracy, post-1945 British-European relations, and the environment, medicine, and morality during the Victorian era. Our second lunchtime roundtable featured panelists discussing an important issue related to the methods, principles, and heritage that underpins the study of the British world, namely the Atlantic and global models of inquiry. After this, conference attendees enjoyed panels on topics such as Angl0-Chinese relations, imperial exhibitions, and Irish emigrants in the Atlantic world. In the early evening, everyone convened to hear our Keynote Address, delivered by Jane Ohlmeyer of Trinity College Dublin on the topic of “Eastward Enterprises: Colonial Ireland, Colonial India.” In a dynamic and lively talk rich in images and detail, Dr. Ohlmeyer’s lecture was a fantastic way to close a conference marked by a particularly high level of interaction and engagement in plenary events—a result perhaps of a general meeting hall that was happily conducive to audience participation. After the lecture, the conference adjourned, with attendees enjoying food and drinks out on a last night in Austin.

The British Scholar Society would like to thank all who attended the conference for making it such a successful and enjoyable event. Special thanks go to those who were involved in its planning, communication, organization, and logistics, especially Michelle D. Brock, Robert Whitaker, Bryan S. Glass, Martin Farr, Leslie Rogne Schumacher, and Helene von Bismarck. We also would like to thanks the following sponsors of the conference: British Studies, University of Texas at Austin; College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas at Austin; Department of History, University of Texas at Austin; Edinburgh University Press; Hilton DoubleTree University Area; Palgrave Macmillan; Piatra Inc.; and the Scholz Beer Garten. Finally, the Society not only welcomes those who attended this year’s conference back for our next conference, but we also welcome those of you reading who have not yet attended our annual event to submit an abstract for the coming one. We hope to hear from you in the coming year and to see you at the 2016 conference, which we are excited to announce will occur in London, at the University of London’s Senate House.

II. New General Editor, with Remarks by Outgoing General Editor Bryan S. Glass

One of the first actions at this year’s Britain and the World Conference was the ceremonial passing of the General Editor baton from our founding General Editor, Bryan S. Glass, to our new General Editor, Martin Farr. We thank Dr. Glass for all his hard work, vision, and expertise over the years, and we are happy to say that he will continue to have a central role in the Society as we look to our very exciting future as an organization under Dr. Farr’s and the rest of the Board’s management. We are also seeing another change on the Board, with Gregory Barton stepping aside as Editor-in Chief of our journal Britain and the World to focus on his many and varied research initiatives. With these changes in mind, below are remarks from Dr. Glass on the past, present, and future of the Society, reproduced from this year’s conference program and which should be of interest to those unable to attend:

“The 2015 Conference also marks the end of my tenure as General Editor of The British Scholar Society. It has been an honor and a pleasure serving the field of British history over the past nine years in this capacity. As Martin Farr takes over I am happy to report that the Society has never been stronger. Our journal, Britain and the World, is ranked 35th in the world by the Thomson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index. The Britain and the World book series continues to publish groundbreaking monographs and anthologies that are defining the study of Britain in the twenty-first century. As evidenced by this year’s program, our conference continues to go from strength to strength. As we move into our second decade next year I am very excited about what the future holds for our Society.

“The success of the Society, however, would not be possible without the help and support of our band of dedicated scholars. While numerous volunteers have given us great assistance over the years, certain members of our team deserve special mention. Michelle Brock and Robert Whitaker have helped me to shape the Society from a graduate student-run informational website to the multifaceted organization that exists today. Martin Farr came on board in 2009 and he has been a source of unwavering energy and enthusiasm for the past six years. Michelle, Robert, and Martin are always there for the Society and me. Thank you for your unwavering dedication.

“Also, Wm. Roger Louis deserves a great deal of the credit for the intellectual trajectory of the Society. As my supervisor, he encouraged me to start the conference and the journal. It is difficult to believe that it has been almost a decade since I stood in his office as he told me that British historians needed additional outlets to present their research and publish their findings. Then he sent me on my way to see what I might do about this. All along he has supported the Society in countless ways. Thank you for being a constant inspiration and an even better friend, Roger. My tenure is not the only one that is coming to an end. Gregory Barton, who has served as the Editor-in-Chief of our journal since its foundation in 2008, is stepping aside after the September 2015 issue is sent to press on 1 June. Greg’s dedication to developing a world-class journal has been unwavering over the past eight years. Our journal’s high citation index ranking is incontestable proof that Greg achieved his goal with spectacular success. We will all greatly miss working with Greg on the journal as he focuses on his numerous research projects. Thank you, Greg, for all that you’ve given to the Society over the years.”

III. New General Editor on GE2015

Signifying the reach and impact of The British Scholar Society, we are pleased to report that our new General Editor Martin Farr was called on by the media during the lead-up to the 2015 UK General Election for his expertise on contemporary British society and politics. Below is a list of Dr. Farr’s contributions to the national and international discourse on what all will agree was, what with the rise of the SNP in Scotland so close on the heels of last year’s IndyRef, clearly one of the most important elections in the last few generations:

IV. Assistant General Editor in the Journal of British Studies

We would like to draw attention to Assistant General Editor Michelle D. Brock’s recent article in the Journal of British Studies, “Internalizing the Demonic: Satan and the Self in Early Modern Scottish Piety.” This important article shows that Dr. Brock, an assistant professor at Washington & Lee University, is fast becoming recognized as an international expert on the topic of early modern religion in the British world. Those interested can read the abstract of Dr. Brock’s article at the following link, which also provides citation information for those who would like to view/download her article via their respective institutional subscriptions:

V. Assistant General Editor at PAX East

Assistant General Editor Robert Whitaker continues to be recognized as a leading figure in the field of history and video games, as illustrated by his participation in a panel, “History in Games: The Big Questions,” at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East convention in Boston recently. Dr. Whitaker’s appearance in Pax East, which is attended by tens of thousands of gaming industry professionals, signifies the range of compelling and relevant areas of interest that characterizes the Society’s leadership and members. Interested parties can read a description of Dr. Whitaker’s panel at the link below:

VI. Associate Editor’s Call for Contributors to Project on Europeans in the Middle East

Associate Editor Leslie Rogne Schumacher has put out a call for contributors to a volume he is editing on Europeans in the service of the Ottoman sultans, Egyptian khedives, Persian shahs, and other Middle Eastern leaders during the region’s nineteenth-century “age of reform.” Dr. Schumacher’s volume seeks to rectify an oversight in the literature on the East-West relationship in that, although there is vibrant discussion on Europeans who served their own governments in the Middle East and a number of works exist on Europeans in service to early modern Middle Eastern leaders, there are relatively few unified and focused works on the vast numbers of military, political, economic, and educational “experts” who were employed by Middle Eastern leaders for the purpose of modernization and development during the nineteenth century. Those interested in contributing to this project can email Dr. Schumacher at lesliedotschumacheratgmaildotcom  (lesliedotschumacheratgmaildotcom)   for more information, including more details on the scope of the book, instructions on how to submit an abstract, and publisher information.

VII. Sad Passing of Distinguished Colleague

We heard with sadness of the passing of a leading historian of the British world, Sir Christopher Bayly, on 19 April in Chicago, IL, where he was serving as the Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. Professor Bayly had a distinguished career at Cambridge University and was known as a leading figure in the study of the history of the British Empire and South Asia. In recognition of his achievements, Professor Bayly was awarded the Wolfson Prize in 2005, was knighted in 2007, and enjoyed membership in a host of scholarly and honorary societies. Professor Bayly’s obituary in the Telegraph can be read at the following link:

VIII. CFP: Annual MBHN Conference

The Modern British History Network will hold its annual conference 16-17 June 2015 at Strathclyde University. Proposals for papers must be submitted by Friday 15 May to Dr. Emma Newlands (edotnewlandsatstrathdotacdotuk  (edotnewlandsatstrathdotacdotuk)  ). More information on the conference, including details on its keynote speakers, can be found at the following link:

IX. CFP: Political History Network Meeting

We would like to draw our readers’ attention to the following CFP from the Political History Network:

“The next meeting of the Political History Network will take place on Wednesday 24th June at 2.00pm at the University of Winchester. As usual papers, from PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, on any political topic in the nineteenth or twentieth century relating to any part of the world are welcome. The meeting is being facilitated by Richard Aldous of the University of Winchester to whom proposals for papers and indications of intended attendance should be sent (RicharddotAldousatwinchesterdotacdotuk  (RicharddotAldousatwinchesterdotacdotuk)  ). Directions to the meeting will be issued by Richard nearer the time. The venue is within easy walking distance of Winchester station; however should you wish to drive Richard will make parking arrangements for you.”

X. Book of the Month

May 2015: A Merciless Place: The Lost History of the Convicts sent to West Africa and the Settlement of Australia by Emma Christopher

Reviewed by David Andrew Roberts, University of New England

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