BARS First Book Prize 2015: Judges’ Report

Following up on the announcement that Orianne Smith’s Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy Rebellious Daughters, 1786–1826 was selected by the judges from a strong shortlist as the inaugural winner of the BARS First Book Prize, please see below for a statement from the judges on the shortlisted books and on the timetable for the 2017 prize.

– — – — – — –

BARS First Book Prize Shortlist 2015

Panel: Emma Clery (Chair), Ian Haywood, David Higgins, Susan Valladares.

It’s been heartening to find that news of the death of the academic monograph has been slightly exaggerated, and that British publishers are continuing to invest in new scholars. At the same time, getting a book into print remains a massive challenge and a huge achievement and all the nominated authors are prize-winners in that respect.

The following remarks are extracts from the views of the judges on the short-listed works, cited in the award ceremony speech:

Jeremy Davies, Bodily Pain in Romantic Literature (Routledge, 2014): intellectually adventurous and highly interdisciplinary…It successfully manages the difficult trick of combining theory-based erudition and accessibility, bringing a wealth of material from ‘pain studies’ and ‘medical humanities’ into the realm of Romantic literary studies.

Mary Fairclough, The Romantic Crowd: Sympathy, Controversy and Print Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2013): brings philosophy, science and politics together with literature, journalism and visual culture to create a rich, nuanced and original account of debate on the nature of the crowd…a brilliant extension of the question of sympathy into consideration of virtual crowds generated by the mechanisms of the press and the postal system.

Maureen McCue, British Romanticism and the Reception of Italian Old Master Art, 1793-1840 (Ashgate, 2014): the compelling chronicle of a quiet revolution, as the middle class stealthily acquire cultural capital through cultivating taste and exploiting new public forums for the consumption and appreciation of art…a major contribution to our understanding of the power of modern print media.

Orianne Smith, Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy Rebellious Daughters, 1786–1826 (Cambridge University Press, 2013): corrects the gender imbalance of previous work on literary enthusiasm by shedding light on the previously obscured role of women writers in apocalyptic discourse…a tremendously fluent and incisive study, making surprising and productive use of speech-act theory to bring out the performative dimension of prophetic writing.

As it happens, all of the short-listed books have ‘Romantic’ or ‘Romanticism’ in their title. This wasn’t a criterion of the competition, but each makes a persuasive case for the significance of the Romantic era as a pivotal historical moment, and consequently Romantic Studies comes away as a winner too. Thanks to the authors for this endorsement!

The next competition will open in September 2016, for any work in the field of Romanticism published between January 2015 and December 2016. Criteria will be circulated closer to the time, and nominees must be members of BARS. The winner will be announced at the next BARS International Conference, at York University, July 2017.

– — – — – — –

If you’d like to find out more about the shortlisted books, the BARS Blog has interviewed all four of their authors for the Five Questions series:


1 thought on “BARS First Book Prize 2015: Judges’ Report

  1. Pingback: Orianne Smith, English, Wins Inaugural British Association of Romantic Studies First Book Prize | UMBC Insights Weekly

Comments are closed.