ACIS Logo 2017 ACIS Book and Dissertation Prizes

On behalf of our organization, ACIS Vice President Timothy McMahon 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 were honored at the General Business Meeting at the ACIS National Meeting at the University of Missouri Kansas City, March 30, 2017. Information on these prizes and on this year’s awards committees can be found on the ACIS website.

The 2017 winners for books published in 2016 are:

Rhodes Prize for Literature and Language

Parsons Ordnance Survey Cóilín Parsons
Georgetown University
The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature
Oxford University Press, 2016

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

The committee unanimously agreed that The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature is elegantly and unpretentiously written, approaching abstract theoretical issues with a refreshingly clear style. Parsons succeeds in using a popular critical tool—the concept of topography and space—to engender new readings of his subjects. He analyzes, specifically, the complicated colonial negotiations performed during the production of the state-sponsored map and demonstrates how Irish writers as different as James Clarence Mangan, Synge, and Joyce subsequently appropriated and refigured the representational strategies deployed in the map, including notably its attention to scale. In doing so Parsons convincingly situates the map as part of the modernizing project and suggests its relationship to the development of Irish literary modernism.
The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature exemplifies the high standard of scholarship and the transformative thinking encouraged and celebrated by the Rhodes prize, and we congratulate Cóilín Parsons for his great achievement.

Duais Leabhar Taighde na Bliana/ACIS Irish Language Research Book Award

Gaeilge i Maigh Nuad Seán Ó hÉanacháin
Coláiste an Gharda Síochána
An Ghaeilge i Maigh Nuad
Cló Iar-Chonnacht, 2016

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

Leagan Gaeilge
Déanann an leabhar seo cíoradh agus scagadh ar áit na Gaeilge i gColáiste agus ina dhiaidh sin, in Ollscoil, Mhaigh Nuad ó bunaíodh é sa bhliain 1795. Ar dtús pléitear tacaíocht na cléire don Ghaeilge sna coláistí san Eoraip ó aimsir Sheathrúin Chéitinn. Ansin pléitear réanna diúltacha nuair a bhí dímheas agus cúng-aigeantacht i réim maidir leis an teanga go dtí beagnach deireadh an naoú haoise déag. Ceapadh Eoghain Uí Ghramhnaigh sa phost mar Cathaoir na Gaeilge in 1891, post a fágadh folamh ó 1876. Ach d’ainneoin tús na hathbheochana in Éirinn, níor lean scéal na Gaeilge i Maigh Nuad gan trioblóidí; ní i gcónaí a bhí díograiseoirí i gceannas gnó! Déantar cur síos agus anailís sa leabhar seo ar shaol agus shaothar scoláirí mór le rá mar Eoghan Ó Ghramhnaigh, Mícheál Ó hIcí, Breandán Ó Doibhlin, Pól Breathnach, Tomás Ó Fiaich agus Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. Ba iad na sagairt a chuir an Ghaeilge chun cinn ó bhunú an Stáit, dar leis an údar, nuair nach raibh mórán suime ag na húdaráis inti.
Cé go bhfuil clú agus cáil ar Ollscoil Maigh Nuad mar fhoinse theagaisc agus thaighde na Gaeilge le fada anuas, maraon le forbairtí i múineadh na Gaeilge in Ionad na dTeangacha ansin, níl mórán eolais le fáil go dtí anois faoi na sagairt ar leith taobh thiar tús an scéil agus na deacrachtaí a bhí ag chuid acu fréamhacha doimhne na Gaeilge a chur san ollscoil. Tá sé in am do lucht na Gaeilge saothar na bhfear seo a aithint agus ligeann an leabhar seo seans luach a gcuid oibre agus a gcuspóirí uaisle a thuiscint i gceart.

English Version
This book examines the place of the Irish language in Maynooth College, established in 1795, later known as Maynooth University. Initially the book discusses the role of the Irish language in the lives of clergy studying in European Colleges during the time of Geoffrey Keating. Periods of negativity, disrespect and narrow mindedness came to the fore within the university regarding the language in the early nineteenth century. This continued to almost the end of the century until the appointment of Eoghan Ó Ghramhnaigh to the Chair of Irish Language, a seat which had been left vacant for over fifteen years. But despite the launch of the language revival in Ireland the story of the language within Maynooth is not without troubles; unfortunately those in charge were not always the most enthusiastic! This book examines the life and work of the most dedicated scholars and teachers of Irish in the university. Eoghan Ó Ghramhnaigh, Mícheál Ó hIcí, Breandán Ó Doibhlin, Pól Breathnach, Tomás Ó Fiaich agus Pádraig Ó Fiannachta. Since the establishment of the state, according to the author, it was the clergy who worked for the advancement and development of the language, when the authorities showed little interest.
Although Maynooth University is well known for many years for its exemplary teaching and research in Irish, and latterly for the developments at The Language Centre, there has been little information until now regarding particular priests who lead the way in Irish language scholarship at this institution notwithstanding the difficulties which some encountered in setting those language roots. It is time to recognize the work of these men and this book illustrates the breadth of their work and their noble aspirations.

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

Beatty Masculinities and Nationalism Aidan Beatty
Trinity College Dublin
Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism, 1884-1938
Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

The committee for the James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize for Books on History and Social Sciences is delighted to announce the recipient for the 2016 James S. Donnelly, Sr. prize from among twenty-four candidates. The winner is Aidan Beatty, for his book titled Masculinity and Power in Irish Nationalism, 1884-1938. In this welcome comparative study, Beatty draws parallels between nationalist movements in several European countries. The book exposes the narrow framework of much writing about the concept of masculinity, and succeeds admirably in shifting the paradigm of such study for the future.

Beginning with de Valera’s oft-cited 1943 St. Patrick’s Day speech and complicating its enduring legacy of valorizing “vigorous masculinity and submissive femininity,” Beatty offers a continuum of gradually tightening ideals around masculinity-as-nationhood. Building on a core chapter about the events of 1916-1923, the book recognizes the ways in which politics, nationhood, and early 20th century wartime movements are gendered in country-specific ways. Focusing on the Irish male body in both the military and sports; issues of space, power, and masculinity; connections between the Gaelic League and masculinity; and the importance of land possession, Beatty also draws from works on Zionism and nationalism elsewhere. Committee members noted that it is rare indeed to see something so theoretical in Irish historiography, and the author’s approach to masculinity and to gender constructions is new and refreshingly so. In sum, it is truly a bold, innovative study that will inspire much-needed new research.

Adele Dalsimer Prize for Distinguished Dissertation

Marion Quirici
University at Buffalo
“Fitness for Freedom: Disability and Irish Modernism”

Read the Prize Committee's Citation

The dissertation offers a bold and cogent reassessment of Irish literary modernism through the framework of disability studies, demonstrating how the discourse of fitness shapes articulations of freedom and nationhood before and after independence. The project traces the historical emergence of fitness as a benchmark for citizenship, from its origins in Enlightenment philosophy, the eugenics movement, and colonial discourse to its reappearance in Irish cultural nationalism. Quirici argues that modern Irish literature confronts and often dismantles representations of the body politic that emphasize physical and moral soundness, instead celebrating the weak, the “corrupted,” and the vulnerable. The project places familiar Irish authors (Yeats, Gregory, Joyce, Beckett, O’Nolan, Christy Brown, Edna O’Brien) into conversation with discourses of ability in cultural records like GAA publications, political speeches, governmental reports, book reviews, and censorship debates, thereby offering a fresh perspective on well-trod literary ground. By highlighting how the valorization of fitness colludes with other forms of racial, gendered, and sexual marginalization, the dissertation offers a valuable contribution to both Irish and disability studies.

Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Books

Leary Unapproved Routes Peter Leary
Oxford University
Unapproved Routes: Histories of the Irish Border, 1922-1972
Oxford Unviversity Press, 2016

Read the Murphy Prize Committee's Citation

Peter Leary’s Unapproved Routes is a timely and sensitive exploration of everyday life on the Irish border in the half century between 1922 and 1972. This conceptually sophisticated book deftly marries historical and anthropological analysis to critical theory, examining such diverse subjects as salmon fishing, cockfighting, smuggling, and border-crossing roads in order to reveal the ways in which the border simultaneously reified state power and exposed its limits. Leary’s empathetic study of Irish people on the periphery–both spatially and socially–-demonstrates that Partition opened as well as closed opportunities for marginalized groups on either side of the divide. It reminds us, too, that the relationship between official rhetoric, public policy, national identity, and lived experience is complex and contested. The committee is delighted to award Unapproved Routes the Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Book.

Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture

Cashman Packy Jim Ray Cashman
Indiana University
Packy Jim: Folklore and Worldview on the Irish Border
University of Wisconsin Press, 2016

Read the Durkan Prize Committee's Citation

Ray Cashman opens his meticulous ethnographic and folklore study, Packy Jim, with the personal story of driving out to meet Packy Jim for the first time in a remote cabin farm on the border between the North and the State. A local in a Landrover warns him to “be careful with Packy Jim. He can be a bit crabbit.” As this informed volume amply demonstrates, Cashman has been careful with Packy Jim McGrath. Using a human subject for a fifteen-year ethnographic study presents immense challenges, and Packy Jim negotiates these with grace and with style. In considering Packy Jim’s stories and beliefs through a variety of lenses — historical, political, ethnographic, cultural, place- and time-based, and religious — Cashman aims for a carefully defined “worldview.” In his introduction, he explains in admirably straightforward language the goals of his work: “worldview […] understanding the world from the perspective of others is, for me, the point of studying folklore.” Cashman extrapolates cultural meaning from Packy Jim’s stories, balancing extensive folkloric fieldwork and the academic apparatus of the discipline with a nuanced and personal understanding of human experience. In turn, the understanding of “worldview” Cashman cultivates in Packy Jim augments and informs research in a range of Irish studies fields: literature, history, visual art, geography and environmental humanities, politics, and more. And although the contribution to folklore and to the broad field of Irish Studies is intense, this study also shows the importance of local places and regional understanding, offering a welcome resistance to the globalizing impulse in the field. Not only does Ray Cashman’s Packy Jim contribute a depth of folkloric knowledge to field of Irish Studies, but it is also a pleasure to read. Treating Packy Jim McGrath with respect and privacy, Cashman nonetheless makes his readers feel they know this man, too, and have spent stormy evenings sipping tea or something stronger in his parlor, listening to his stories.