British Academy honour for Nottingham scholar

Prof Julie Sanders
02 Aug 2012 22:35:16.727


A University of Nottingham academic has been honoured by the British Academy for her research into the literary landscape of Britain.

Professor Julie Sanders has won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in international women’s scholarship.

Professor Sanders received the award for her latest book in the field of literary geography — an exciting new area of research that connects English literature with cultural geography, landscape history and archaeology, and performance studies.

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‘The Cultural Geography of Early Modern Drama 1620-1650’ examines how drama can give us a revealing ‘map’ of how people thought about the places in which they lived.

International recognition

Professor Sanders, Head of the School of English at The University of Nottingham, said: “I am thrilled to be awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for this book.

“When you look at the list of former winners it’s totally humbling: Hermione Lee, Marina Warner, Gillian Beer — one of my own wonderful tutors as an undergraduate — Claire Tomalin... It's such an honour to be a part of the history of this prize for international women’s scholarship and I only hope I am as half as good a role model to my students as so many women academics have been for me in my career.

“It's also especially lovely to win for this book, which is a product of my research collaborations at The University of Nottingham. Since taking up my Chair in the School of English in 2004 I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working alongside colleagues in the School thinking about literary geographies and theories of space but also a wonderful group of cultural geographers in the School of Geography, in particular Professor Stephen Daniels, and not least through the vehicle of the multidisciplinary Landscape, Space, Place Research Group which we co-direct.

“It's amazing to see something you loved working on and thinking about get picked up and appreciated in this way and I'm hugely grateful to the British Academy for this recognition.”

Professor Stephen Mumford, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, said: “Many congratulations to Julie on receiving this award from the British Academy. This is a wonderful achievement and testament not only to the quality of her work but also the strength of research collaborations between academics here at Nottingham.”

Fascinating times

The early 17th century is particularly interesting because it was when habitats such as forests and fens became a special focus of government policy and popular protest, when new modes of travel and communication such as coaches and postal networks were emerging, and changing the way people understood the country in which they lived. It was also when some of the best-known areas of London, such as Covent Garden, were first conceived and designed.

As well as city streets, squares and urban spaces, Professor Sanders’s book looks at coastlines, rivers, and arctic landscapes of ice and snow to which whalers travelled at this time and returned with dramatic stories of their experiences — which were then re-imagined by the dramatists of the day.

Shakespeare had died by 1620 but other significant playwrights and poets of the day were actively responding to the geographies in which they lived and through which they travelled, including Ben Jonson and John Milton.

Professor Sanders’s book also looks at lesser known writers who produced work in regional households and for schools, the idea being to give as detailed a picture as possible of the way in which drama and geography interacted at this time.

A fellowship of scholars

The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. The Academy is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars elected for their distinction and achievement.

The Rose Mary Crawshay prize has been given to outstanding female scholars for more than 120 years. It began in 1888, when Mrs Crawshay established ‘The Byron, Shelley, Keats In Memoriam Yearly Prize Fund’. In 1914, some years after her death, the Charity Commissioners transferred the administration of the prize fund to the British Academy.

Each year the prize is awarded ‘to a woman of any nationality who, in the judgement of the Council of the British Academy, has written or published within three years next preceding the year of the award an historical or critical work of sufficient value on any subject connected with English Literature, preference being given to a work regarding one of the poets Byron, Shelley and Keats’.

Professor Sanders will receive the prize at a formal awards ceremony in London, in November 2012.

‘The Cultural Geography of Early Modern Drama 1620-1650’ is published by Cambridge University Press.

— Ends —

PICTURES of Professor Sanders are available from

More information is available from Professor Julie Sanders, Head of the School of English, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 846 7040

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Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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