Rutgers British Studies Project

rsbcThe energy, strength, and potential of British studies at Rutgers have been plain to see in the activities organized and sponsored by the RBSP since its founding two years ago. Beginning in 2007, the RBSP has established a clear sense of its mission, advanced faculty research, stimulated fruitful graduate student projects, and fostered a vital intellectual community.

The primary locus for forging our conception of British studies thus far has been the ongoing series of faculty workshops that have allowed scholars to share their work across departmental lines. These workshops have helped consolidate a powerful spirit of collaboration, and the range of work-in-progress by professors at all ranks and from three departments (History, English, and Political Science) exemplifies our goals. These workshops have enabled rigorous discussion from a number of disciplinary vantage points, each seminar being valuable in itself as well as offering continuity for ongoing conversations.


The RBSP also has begun to cultivate its relationship to audiences both within the university and in the greater, mid-Atlantic region through a series of lectures by visiting senior scholars many of whom have focused explicitly on themes discussed and debated in our workshops. These lectures have publicized our concerns to the entire Rutgers community, including faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from a number of departments besides English and History, including Political Science, Art History, Anthropology, and Philosophy. As part of each visit, outside speakers have conducted seminars with graduate students from various departments, who have been able to discuss their own work as well as that of the visiting lecturers. These seminars have enabled our graduate students to share their own ideas across disciplines in ways that enrich their emerging scholarship.

During the past two years, the RBSP also has sponsored two day-long conferences on methodological issues that are vital to the study of British history and culture in two different periods. The first conference, “Historicism and its Discontents,” brought together a number of distinguished visiting scholars to discuss the implications of new historical methodologies for the study of early modern English culture. The second, “Making History: Rethinking Master Narratives,” focused on the controversial status of generalizing and inclusive historical narratives in a postmodern age of increasingly specialized and fragmented knowledge.

The experience of the past two years has made it clear that we can consolidate the intellectual achievements of the interdisciplinary turn in British studies and the humanities, foster its growth in the future, and stimulate both faculty and graduate student research in the present. We anticipate that by sharing our strengths with interested academics, we in turn will be vastly enriched by their intellectual offerings. But we also believe that as a major public research university, Rutgers is particularly suited to serving as the institutional and intellectual center for the many people in the region, whether academics or non-academics, with an interest in British studies.

 

Coordinators

Alastair Bellany

Department of History, Rutgers University

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Ann Baynes Coiro

Department of English, Rutgers University

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Seth Koven

Department of History, Rutgers University

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John Kucich

Department of English, Rutgers University

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Michael McKeon

Department of English, Rutgers University

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