Two history professors named to the 2016 Ferguson Prize short list

The Canadian Historical Association named history Professors Joan Judge and Alexia Yates to the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize 2016 short list. The prize recognizes an exceptional scholarly book in the field of history other than Canadian history.

Joan Judge
Joan Judge

Judge was nominated for Republican Lens: Gender, Visuality, and Experience in the Early Chinese Periodical Press. Her book explores a neglected era in Chinese history: the period following China’s first 20th-century revolution, the 1911 Revolution, which ended 2,000 years of imperial rule.

A vibrant and, as yet, little studied commercial culture evolved in this period, and the book “uses one of its most striking, innovative — and continually mischaracterized — products, the journal Funü shibao (The women’s eastern times), as a lens onto the early years of China’s first Republic,” said Judge. “Redeeming both the value of the medium and the significance of the era, it demonstrates the extent to which the commercial press channelled and helped constitute key epistemic and gender trends in China’s revolutionary 20th century.”

Republican Lens develops a cross-genre and inter-media method for reading the periodical press and gaining access to the complexities of the past. Involving the analysis of various textual and visual forms, this method highlights a number of key tensions — between reform and commerce, between epic political agendas and everyday concerns, between male strategies and female tactics — that governed the early Republic.

“It also highlights processes central to the arc of 20th century social change and knowledge culture,” said Judge. These include the entrée of respectable Chinese women into public space and the interaction between “Chinese medicine” and scientific biomedicine.

Andrea Yates
Andrea Yates

Yates was nominated for Selling Paris: Property and Commercial Culture in the Fin-de-siècle Capital. Spanning the period from 1870 to 1921, the book unearths the creation of Paris as it veered through urban transformation and insurrection. Yates digs into how land, buildings and apartments were produced, circulated and consumed, exploring a rarely studied period in the city’s development

Selling Paris chronicles people who have not previously been prominent in the story of Paris’s urban modernity: shady real estate agents, hustling speculators, conservative owners of private property, corporations that were beginning to assemble substantial portfolios of property, and of course tenants who found themselves navigating a new, speculatively produced housing landscape,” she said.

Readers can expect to learn about a rapidly changing market, encountering ordinary Parisians as they attempted to make the housing business work for them, as well as getting to know the entrepreneurs who built “the Capital of Light in the shadow of better known processes of state-led urban development,” said Yates. “In each historical moment — including our own — powerful social, political and economic forces align that can frustrate the effort to make real estate a transparent, easily exchangeable commodity.” The struggles over this process form the heart of this study.

The winner — one of the five authors named on the short list — will be announced on May 31 at the CHA Annual Prize Ceremonies in Calgary.