The Sally Mitchell Dissertation Prize is awarded annually to the best Ph.D. dissertation, defended in the previous calendar year, that explores the 19th-century British periodical press (including magazines, newspapers, and serial publications of all kinds) as an object of study in its own right, not as a source of material for other historical topics. Winners of the prize receive a monetary award of $1,000.
The prize was established in 2020 to honor Sally Mitchell, a longstanding and highly valued member of RSVP who served on the organization’s board and its senior advisory committee. She was the author of five books, including the biography, Frances Power Cobbe: Victorian Feminist, Journalist, Reformer, and The New Girl: Girl’s Culture in England, 1880-1915. Much of her work focused on women writers, women’s history, the social history of the period, and the role of periodicals. Sally Mitchell was a committed and ardent mentor of graduate students and worked hard to advance their careers. A list of previous awardees is located below the submission guidelines.
Applications open February 1 and are due March 1.
See the current award calendar for all application deadlines.
Eligible applicants will have successfully defended their dissertation within the previous calendar year (i.e., the 2021 prize winner defended in 2020). Projects range from a variety of disciplinary perspectives focused on any aspect of the periodical press within Britain itself, or in the many countries within and outside of the Empire where British magazines and newspapers were bought, sold, and read during “the long nineteenth century” (ca. 1780-1914).
Applicants should submit the following via our online application portal by March 1:
- An applicant information form with full contact information
- A title page, abstract and table of contents
- A sample chapter (do not submit the full dissertation!)
- The name and email address of their dissertation advisor
Applicants’ advisors will be asked to confirm the successful viva/defense date. After reviewing these materials, the prize committee will solicit full dissertations for further consideration.
The Mitchell Prize winner will be announced in July or August of the prize year.
Questions about this dissertation prize may be directed to the president of RSVP.
Previous Projects and Awardees
Our inaugural 2021 winner of the Mitchell Prize is Ann M. Hale for her project, “Business Matters: Legal Structures, Roles, People, and Places in the Nineteenth-Century Press—A Case Study of George Newnes Limited.” The decision committee offered the following comments on Hale’s project:
“In her comprehensive and compelling study of George Newnes Limited, Ann Hale’s [dissertation] uncovers and assesses the vital role of business and legal frameworks in the periodical press. Her project enables readers to better appreciate the consequences of sole proprietorship, partnerships, and companies and the mutability of these legal and business structures. Drawing on an impressive array of documents, visualizations, maps, and other data as part of a Scalar Digital Supplement, she constructs a carefully scaffolded study that draws well on existing periodicals scholarship and literary theory, including the idea of the chronotope, Guillory’s ideas of remediation, and Linda Hughes’ ‘sideways theory,’ along the way bringing numerous hidden players in the publishing work to light and convincing her readers why, as her title tells us, ‘Business Matters.’”
Two other outstanding dissertations received honorable mentions from the decision committee:
- Victoria Clarke’s “Reading and Writing the Northern Star, 1837-1847”
- Stephan Pigeon’s “The Labour, Law, and Practice of Circulating Journalisms in the British News and Periodical Press, 1842-1911”
Congratulations to Ann and thanks to all for participating!