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 10 and are due March 1.
See our awards calendar for all relevant deadlines. Please note that deadlines are subject to change and if needed, will be announced via our social media channels promptly.
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
Congratulations to our 2022 Mitchell Prize winner, Maryam Sikander, for her project, “Oudh Punch (1877-1915): Satire and Parody in the Colonial Contact Zone”! The dissertation examines the transcultural life of Punch in India through the framework of the colonial “contact zone.” This ambitious project demonstrates a deft touch in managing the breadth of translation and archival work as it crosses historical and geographical boundaries. It makes a clear contribution to the study of Victorian periodicals and their transformations in colonial contexts.
An honorable mention also goes to Elizabeth Rawlinson-Mills’s “Bards, Priests and Prophets: The Newspaper Poets of the South African War (1899-1902),” a beautifully written and methodologically interesting exploration of bards, poets, and prophets during the Second Boer War.
Previous winners of the Mitchell Prize include:
- 2021 —Ann M. Hale, “Business Matters: Legal Structures, Roles, People, and Places in the Nineteenth-Century Press—A Case Study of George Newnes Limited”
- Honorable Mentions: Victoria Clarke, “Reading and Writing the Northern Star, 1837-1847″; and Stephan Pigeon, “The Labour, Law, and Practice of Circulating Journalisms in the British News and Periodical Press, 1842-1911”