The New England American Studies Association is pleased to announce the winner of its 2020 Lois P. Rudnick Prize, awarded to the best academic book in American Studies written by a New England scholar or about New England over a two-year period.
This year’s Rudnick Prize goes to Christine DeLucia for Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (Yale University Press, 2018).
The committee has also awarded Honorable Mention to Nina Silber’s This War Ain’t Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America (University of North Carolina Press, 2018).
Christine DeLucia’s Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast challenges traditionally colonist-oriented narratives of the war, moving the Native American experience to the center of her study. DeLucia, a professor at Williams College, coordinates her text around five places in the North Atlantic region, looking at how the war affected the daily lives and mentalities of indigenous Americans as well as European settlers. She draws on a variety of sources, from oral traditions to material culture to environmental studies, highlighting the place of the war in American historical “memoryscapes.” The book’s reopening of this early chapter of American history necessitates a contemporary reevaluation of the ways in which American culture memorializes King Philip’s War.
Nina Silber’s first book, The Romance of Reunion, emphasized the ways in which the South rewrote history by dominating the national narrative with calls for reunion. In her most recent book, This War Ain’t Over: Fighting the Civil War in New Deal America (University of North Carolina Press, 2018) Silber carries that notion forward all the way to World War II, noting the continued popularity of Civil War themes and memorials. Reinvigorating the argument that historical memory helps us to understand and define the present, Silber examines the paradoxical remembrances of the Civil War Era during a period rife with rhetoric about states’ rights, labor and trade organizations, and civil rights agitation. Silber focuses on the unique locus of politics and culture in the creation of an idea of past that harmonizes with the present.
The prize committee had to make a difficult decision among many excellent submissions.