ACIS Logo 2015 ACIS Book and Dissertation Prizes

On behalf of our organization, ACIS Vice President Brian Ó Conchubhair and the chairs of each of the ACIS prize committees are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s book and dissertation prizes. The winners will be honored at the General Business Meeting at the ACIS National Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, March 27, 2015. Information on these prizes and on this year’s awards committees can be found on the book and dissertation prize page.

The 2015 winners for books published in 2014 are:

Rhodes Prize for Literature and Language

Damien Keane, Ireland and the Problem of Information Damien Keane
University at Buffalo
Ireland and the Problem of Information: Irish Writing, Radio, Late Modernist Communication
Penn State University Press, 2014

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

Examining the complicated ways that information circulates through various media, Damien Keane’s Ireland and the Problem of Information: Irish Writing, Radio, Late Modernist Communication turns to the period around the second World War to examine how the “problems” produced by a new and astonishing flood of knowledge pouring from intercontinental radio broadcasts affected recently independent Ireland. Using radio transmission as its operating motif, this study places Ireland in a global context and demonstrates how national understanding was shaped by the rise of new media in Ireland and abroad. Keane offers readers fresh archival material and astute close readings to successfully undermine long-standing assessments of this period as one characterized by Irish inwardness and exceptionalism. He insists that Irish modernism was disseminated not only by literary texts but also by global networks of communication, and draws attention to the influence of these networks on late modernist writers such as Samuel Beckett, Walter Starkie, and Francis Stuart. By offering an innovative approach to long-standing concerns in Irish Studies, Ireland and the Problem of Information demonstrates the real value of transnational studies to the field more generally.

Duais Leabhar Taighde na Bliana/ACIS Prize for Books in the Irish Language

Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh and Aoileann Nic Gearailt, Sáirséal agus Dill 1947-1981 Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh
Independent Scholar
Aoileann Nic Gearailt
Institute of Technology Tralee
Sáirséal agus Dill 1947‒1981: Scéal Foilsitheora
Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2014

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

Sáirséal agus Dill 1947‒1981: Scéal Foilsitheora by Cian Ó hÉigeartaigh and Aoileann Nic Gearailt tells the inspiring story of the most important Irish-language publishers in the modern period. This book, written by the son and daughter of the founders of the press, is undoubtedly and clearly a labor of love: it gives the reader a powerful and intimate portrayal of Irish language activism, and of courage and dedication. Modern Irish language literature would not exist without Sáirséal agus Dill. Among their authors are Seán Ó Ríordáin, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, and Liam Ó Flaithearta; the list goes on. This wonderful book, beautifully written and presented, does this remarkable story proud.

James S. Donnelly, Sr., Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences

Ciaran O'Neill, Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility, and the Irish Catholic Elite Ciaran O’Neill
Trinity College Dublin
Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility and the Irish Catholic Elite 1850‒1900
Oxford University Press, 2014

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

Ciaran O’Neill’s Catholics of Consequence: Transnational Education, Social Mobility, and the Irish Catholic Elite 1850-1900 breaks new ground in addressing a compelling dimension of nineteenth-century Irish history: Irish Catholic elite educational culture. Using inventive methodologies, O’Neill explores the worldview of Irish Catholics willing and able to send their children to boarding schools at home and abroad. Catholics of Consequence offers a rich tapestry of pedagogical patterns and parental attitudes and behaviors that both defined and defied the norms of the time, and he admirably expands our knowledge of a distinctive socio-economic and political power-base in later nineteenth-century Ireland. We members of the Donnelly Prize Committee heartily congratulate Ciaran O’Neill on producing a work that will stimulate renewed interest and fresh scholarship on the provocative and intertwined subjects of class and education at a pivotal juncture in Ireland’s modern history.

Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertation

Aidan Beatty
University of Chicago
“The Life That God Desires: Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism 1884‒1938”
University of Chicago, 2014

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

Aidan Beatty’s “The Life that God Desires: Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism, 1884-1938” succeeds brilliantly in the difficult task of shedding fresh light on a hoary historiographical topic: modern nationalism. He comes obliquely at the subject, focusing on masculinist ideology and the “political work” it could do for nationalists rather than on the concept of the “nation” itself. This choice sets his study outside the field-dominant binaries of “republican” and “revisionist” approaches, and with powerful results. He is able to argue, for instance, that we should not think of the period 1916-23 as a revolutionary historical rupture but rather as closely connected to a gender-driven politics dating back at least to the 1880s. Ireland’s emergence into the modern is thus elongated, and culture is interwoven with politics in ways that make both look simultaneously more clear and more fascinating. Innovatively, the thesis is constructed as a comparison between two of Europe’s chief outlier communities, Irish and Jews, thus highlighting the peculiarities and the contexts of the Irish tale. In doing so, it is a model for engaging theory. Beatty is fluent in a variety of theoretical languages and interweaves them fluidly throughout the text so that they explicate and never obscure. Moreover, he excels in the foundational craft of the historian, storytelling. Whether covering sports or policing, the body or language revival, he brings his subjects richly to life. This is a powerful argument elegantly told. Beatty has not only managed to find new things to say in a crowded field but, in doing, has produced a study with the potential to reconfigure that very field.

Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture
and Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Books

Nicholas Wolf, An Irish-Speaking Island Nicholas Wolf
Glucksman Ireland House, New York University
An Irish-Speaking Island: State, Religion, Community, and the Linguistic Landscape in Ireland, 1770‒1870
University of Wisconsin Press, 2014

Read the Murphy Prize Committee's Citation

Nicholas Wolf has produced an assertive and thoughtful book that helps us to understand Ireland from the time of Grattan’s Parliament through the Act of Union and then the Famine to the Land Wars, not so much as a culture in transition between two exclusive language traditions, but as a lived bilingual reality. The richer appreciation he brings us of that society is invaluable to scholars of Irish history and literature alike, and will serve to encourage new thinking about Ireland’s linguistic past. An Irish-Speaking Island is a deeply researched and referenced study that draws on archives and sources in both English and Irish, which is exceptional for a work of Irish cultural history by an American scholar. The prose is precise, pertinent, and even provocative, while the thesis provides a fine example of a thoughtful and well-researched challenge to longstanding interpretations. The narrative provided has detail and drama, while the argument offers conviction and insight. Of particular interest to literary scholars will be the third chapter on bilingualism and the wit and humor of the Irish which casts Irish writing from Maria Edgeworth on through to Beckett and Brian Ó Nualláin in new light. Libraries and active scholars will want to put this work up on their shelves next to Philip O’Leary’s recent and capacious studies.

Read the Durkan Prize Committee's Citation

Wolf’s study draws intelligently and exhaustively on archival records to detail the persistence of the language during an era when – according to our long-standing assumptions – Irish was supposedly dying yet – as Wolf amply substantiates – was in fact everywhere in use. Here linguistic documentation fuses with historical analysis as Wolf considers the ways Irish speaking communities kept communication open and forced government and religious institutions (including the law and education) to accommodate. Our committee sees this book as a conversation changer, a paradigm changer, a critical impetus to new lines of debate – and, as one committee member has written, “assiduous and lively all the way.”