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Western Conference on British Studies

Call for Proposals

EXTENDED Call for Proposals 
While we have had a good response so far, we are missing some long-time participants. We also understand that as the end of the term is upon us, many things might slip through the cracks. As a result, WCBS is extending its call for paper until 1 June.

2022 Annual Meeting
Oklahoma City, OK
2 – 3 September 2022

The next WCBS annual conference will be held at the Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on 2-3 September, 2022.

This year, WCBS is returning to a thematic approach to conferencing and has selected the idea of emergence as this years’ theme. Emergence can have many meanings including, but not limited to, the emergence of an idea, or a movement, or even the emergence of a struggle. ‘Emergence’ is an all-purpose idea that will allow scholars to explore numerous aspects of British Studies.

The WCBS Program Committee seeks to design a meeting that is both interdisciplinary and wide-ranging in its temporal span. Scholars of Britain, the British Atlantic World, and the British Empire broadly defined are invited to participate.

Professor Lynn MacKay of Brandon University, Canada, will deliver the conference’s keynote lecture.

The committee welcomes proposals for both individual papers and full panels, and it encourages graduate student submissions. Proposals should include a 250-word abstract of each paper and a short curriculum vitae for each participant. Full panel proposals should also include a brief description of the panel’s overall aim and indicate clearly the panel’s organizer and primary contact.

The conference will also feature a poster session for undergraduate students; please contact the conference organizers for more information on this session.

Please submit proposals, in Word format, via email with ‘WCBS 2020’ in the subject line to by the end of the day on Friday, 15 April 2022.



Thomas (Tom) C. Kennedy (1937-2017)

Tom Kennedy (University of Arkansas), historian, sports fan, singer, poet, husband, father and grandfather, and a long time member of the Western Conference on British Studies and great friend to many in the organization (and father to one), passed away in late January.  Tom taught in the History Department of the University of Arkansas for nearly forty years.  His research focused on Quakers and Quakerism in Britain and the United States and included publications such as British Quakerism 1860-1920: The Transformation of a Religious Community (Oxford University Press, 2001) and A History of Southland College: The Society of Friends and Black Education in Arkansas (University of Arkansas Press, 2009).  WCBS members will know of Tom’s long service to the organization, including stints as Program Chair and President (1985-86).  A fitting tribute appears in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

WCBS Calgary Review

Over 70 scholars came together on a  sunny weekend in Calgary Alberta to participate in the 41st annual meeting of the WCBS.  Panelists came from across the Western CBS ‘region’ and we were also joined by presenters from Arkansas, California, British Columbia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Ontario, Pennsylvania, parts of the UK, as well as a number of local students from Alberta post-secondary institutions. Many of the 19 panels were tied in to this year’s theme, “Crisis, Conflict, Conciliation” and included papers from literary scholars, medievalists as well as historians of Britain and its Empire.

Highlights of the meeting included a thought provoking plenary address from Professor Stephen Heathorn (McMaster University) on Douglas Haig and historical memory, and the customary presidential address by outgoing WCBS president, Greg Smith (University of Manitoba) on potentially criminal children in eighteenth-century London.  We were also joined by NACBS Vice President, Susan Pennybacker (UNC Chapel Hill) who is making the rounds to regional CBS meetings to engage members in discussions about national business.

All graduate student presenters are encouraged to submit their paper (as read at the conference) to the Bob McJimsey prize committee by 1 November, 2014.

Recent Publications by WCBS Members

Ward, Joseph P., ed (Utah State). European empires in the American South: colonial and environmental encounters. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2017.

Winter, David R. (Brandon Univ.) “Becket and the Wolves: Imagining the Lupine Welsh in a Thirteenth-Century Latin Preaching Exemplum  from Llanthony Secunda Priory.” In T. Sharp et. al., eds. From learning to live: schools, law and pastoral care in the Middle Ages: essays in Honour of Joseph W. Georing. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2017.

Prasch, Thomas. (Washburn Univ.) “Cannibalism as cultural critique: Peter Greenaway’s The cook, the thief, his wife, and her lover (1989) and Thatcherism.” In Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper, eds.  What’s eating you?: food and horror on screen. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Levine, Philippa. (UTexas Austin) “A child of decolonisation.” In Antoinette Burton and Dane Kennedy, eds. How empire shaped us. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Rosenheim, James. (Texas A&M) “The Pleasures of a Single Life: Envisioning Bachelorhood in Early Eighteenth-Century England.” Gender & History 27:2 (2015): 307-28.

Levine-Clark, Marjorie. (Univ. Colorado Denver) “Gendered roles, gendered welfare: health and the English Poor Law, 1871-1911.” In Tracy Penny LIght, Barbara Brookes, Wendy Mitchinson, eds. Bodily subjects: essays on gender and health, 1800-2000. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015.

Frank, Christopher. (Univ. of Manitoba) “The Sheriff’s Court or the Company Store: Truck, the Arrestment of Wages, and Working-Class Consumption in Scotland, 1837-71.” Labour History Review 79:2 (2015): 139-165.

Lubenow, William C. (Richard Stockton College) “Only connect”: learned societies in nineteenth-century Britain. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2015.

Sheetz-Nguyen, Jessica A. (Univ. Central Oklahoma) and Marilyn Button (Eds.). Victorians and the case for charity: essays on responses to English poverty by the state, the church, and the literati. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2014.

Brundage, Anthony and Richard A. Cosgrove. (Univ. of Arizona) British Historians and National Identity: From Hume to Churchill. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014.

Smith, Greg T. (Univ. of Manitoba) “Long-Term Trends in Female and Male Involvement in Crime.” In The Oxford Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Crime, edited by R. Gartner and B. McCarthy . New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

MacMillan, Ken. (Univ. of Calgary) “To Punish and Correct: the rise of criminal courts in Bermuda, 1615-1622.” Atlantic Studies 10:3 (2013).

S.L. Chester and David R.C. Hudson. (Texas A&M) “The Transportation of Irish Swordsmen to Sweden and Russia and plantation in Ulster (1609-1613).” Archivium Hibernicum, 66 (2013)

Knafla, Louis A. (Univ. of Calgary) Kent at Law, 1602. 4 Volumes. Kew, Surrey: List and Index Society, 2002-13.

Bronstein, Jamie. (Univ. New Mexico, Las Cruces) “Sowing Discontent: The 1921 Alien Land Act in New Mexico,” Pacific Historical Review vol. 82 no. 3 (August 2013): 362-95.

Smith, Greg T. (Univ. of Manitoba) Summary Justice in the City: A Selection of Cases Heard at the Guildhall Justice Room, 1752-1781 Boydell & Brewer for the London Record Society, 2013

MacKay, Lynn. (Brandon Univ.) Respectability and the London Poor, 1780–1870: The Value of Virtue. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2013.

Button, Marilyn D. and Jessica A. Sheetz-Nguyen, (Univ. Central Oklahoma) eds. The Victorian Case for Charity: Essays on Responses to English Poverty by the State, the Church and the Literati. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Press, 2013.

Prasch, Thomas. (Washburn Univ.) ‘“A Strange Incongruity”: The Imaginary India of the International Exhibitions’ Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal 34:5 (2012): 477-91.

Tusan, Michelle. (UNLV) Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide, and the Birth of the Middle East.Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

Sheetz-Nguyen, Jessica A. (Univ. Central Oklahoma)  Victorian Women: Unwed Mothers and the London Foundling Hospital. London: Continuum Books, 2012.

Sheetz-Nguyen, Jessica A. (Univ. Central Oklahoma) “Go ye therefore and teach all nations: Evangelical and Mission Sermons, the Imperial Stage.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Modern British Sermon 1689-1901, edited by Keith A. Francis and William Gibson Robert Ellison, John Morgan-Guy, and Bob Tennant. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

WCBS 2013: Kansas City Report

Thank you to all of our participants at the 2013 WCBS meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.  Attendees were able to attend seventeen panels, ranging in topics from political, cultural and social history, to gender and literature, to Irish Home Rule to aspects of Empire, to single out but a few topics.  Chronological breadth extended from the early modern to the twentieth century.

Many panels took on the conference theme “Borders, Boundaries and Frontiers” including the keynote speaker, Professor Peter Stansky (Stanford) who delivered a fascinating and stimulating talk on British writers and travel literature in the 1930s.

The conference will reconvene for its 41st annual meeting in 2014 in Calgary, Alberta.  As 2014 will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, the program committee is encouraging papers that will speak to the theme:  “Crisis, Conflict, Conciliation”.  As usual, we welcome any papers that take up the theme in both obvious and unique ways, including class or gender conflict, economic crisis, artistic disputes, reluctant conciliation, imagined crises, and so on.

Please encourage any graduate student presenters to submit their papers to the Bob McJimsey Prize committee.  Click on the awards tab.

Recent Publications

Congratulations to Michelle Tusan (UNLV) on the publication of her book:

Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide, and the Birth of the Middle East (University of California Press, 2012) 

Today the West tends to understand the Middle East primarily in terms of geopolitics: Islam, oil, and nuclear weapons. But in the nineteenth century it was imagined differently. The interplay of geography and politics found definition in a broader set of concerns that understood the region in terms of the moral, humanitarian, and religious commitments of the British empire. Smyrna’s Ashes reevaluates how this story of the “Eastern Question” shaped the cultural politics of geography, war, and genocide in the mapping of a larger Middle East after World War I.

The book is also available in a free electronic edition:


Recent Publications by WCBS Members

Marjorie Levine-Clark’s Presidential Address to the WCBS, “The Politics of Preference: Masculinity, Marital Status and Unemployment Relief in Post-First World War Britain” was published in Cultural and Social History: the journal of the Social History Society 7:2 (2010): 233-252.

Louis A. Knafla, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History and Director of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Calgary recently edited a collection of essays with Haijo Westra, entitled Aboriginal Title and Indigenous Peoples: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (UBC Press, 2010).

Report: WCBS 2010 Austin, TX

eting in Austin, Texas in September drew a healthy crowd of scholars from the UK, the USA and Canada, with 20 panels, two plenary sessions and 80+ participants.  As is our customary practice, one of our plenary speakers was outgoing president David Hudson of Texas A&M University.  Dr. Hudson’s talk, entitled “Poles apart? John Redmond, Roman Dmowski, and the road less traveled”, offered some clever exploratory remarks on a subject of comparative history between the Irish National League and the National Democracy movement in Poland.

The other plenary address was by Brian Levack of the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Levack’s entertaining talk, “Demonic Possession in England and Scotland” was delivered before a full audience.

Fr. Gordon McBride (1941-2010)

Richard Cosgrove forwarded the following announcement:

Longtime members of the Western Conference on British Studies will learn with regret of the death on July 10, 2010, of Gordon McBride, an early member of WCBS. McBride earned a doctorate in British history from the University of Cincinnati with a specialization in Tudor history. In the 1970s he was an associate professor of history at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. He left this position to study for the Episcopal priesthood and was ordained in 1984. Since 1985 he served on the staff of Grace St. Paul’s church in Tucson, Arizona. His homilies combined both vocations with frequent allusions to history. McBride is survived by his wife, Dr. Kari McBride, associate professor of women’s studies at the University of Arizona, four children and eleven grandchildren.