Professor Nicholas Rogers, distinguished research professor in history, has won the 2013 John Ben Snow Prize for his book Mayhem: Post-War Crime and Violence in Britain, 1748–53. Sponsored by the North American Conference on British Studies, the prize is awarded annually for the best book by a North American scholar of British Studies for the period from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. Rogers received the award at this year’s meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies in Portland, Oregon.
After the end of the War of Austrian Succession in 1748, thousands of unemployed soldiers and seamen found themselves on the streets of London ready to roister the town and steal when necessary. Mayhem explores the moral panic associated with this rapid demobilization.
“In a book both erudite and engaging, Professor Rogers makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the political and social history of mid-eighteenth-century England,” writes the prize committee. “Rogers establishes a sense of real communities responding to real problems and demonstrates how the connections between them meant the generation of a real sense of crisis, especially when allied to the ambiguity of a military victory that felt a lot like a defeat.”
Rogers is one of the world’s leading scholars of the political culture of 18th-century British and Atlantic worlds.
In his writing, Rogers blends keen insights into the nature and operation of the early modern state with a detailed understanding of the social and cultural contexts in which it functioned. He has explored a remarkably diverse range of topics, from reactions to press gangs in British ports to religious conflicts amongst London’s crowds, from food riots to public reactions to blunders made by admirals, and even the genealogy of Halloween festivities. His compelling prose, intellectual rigour, powers of synthesis and painstaking archival research has allowed him to produce works that have served as models for subsequent writers on these and other topics.
In 1999, Rogers was awarded the Wallace Ferguson Prize for his book Crowds, Culture and Politics in Georgian Britain, a study of 18th-century Britain that fundamentally transformed our understanding of early modern Britain and prompted historians to reconsider how they treat the interplay between politics and culture. He brilliantly and persuasively mapped the pathways of political power and identified those who opposed, resisted and deflected its effects.