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2017 Cheiron Book Prize: Susanna L. Blumenthal’s Law and the Modern Mind

Cheiron: The International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences has announced their 2017 Book Prize winner. Congratulations to Susanna Blumenthal!

Cheiron awards the 2017 Cheiron Book Prize to Susanna L. Blumenthal (Julius E. Davis Professor of Law and Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota) for Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016). Dr. Blumenthal’s book contributes much to our understanding of the quandaries that lawyers and jurists faced and explored as they considered the appropriate legal relations between human activity and culpability, particularly over the course of the nineteenth century.

During the early years of the American republic, as the precedents following from inherited position fell away, jurists found themselves having to consider matters of standing, evidence, and responsibility in new ways. In doing so, they found that human subjectivity took on new consequences. Well into this process, Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote in 1894, “In a proper sense the state of a man’s consciousness always is material to his liability.” Relying on extensive knowledge of the primary sources (including routine civil and criminal cases), Blumenthal provides historians, psychologists, anthropologists, and other readers with an invigorated understanding of the emergence of refined notions of the individual (generally white men, at that time): they became singular legal persons, and there were circumstances by which such legal persons could be held culpable for their actions or culpability might be limited due to mental impairments of various sorts.

Blumenthal’s prose is lucid and subtle. Her exposition is both magisterial and thought-provoking. For example, the historical examination of the jurisprudence of insanity illuminates contemporary attitudes toward ‘others’—children, women, and slaves.

Members of the 2017 Cheiron Book Prize Committee: Jennifer Bazar, Elissa Rodkey, Gerald Sullivan (Chair), and Phyllis Wentworth.

The 2017 Cheiron Book Prize will be formally presented at the annual meeting of Cheiron, June 22-25, at Mississippi State University, Starkville.

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Call for Submissions: 2016 Cheiron Book Prize, Deadline Oct. 15

Cheiron, the International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences, is currently calling for submissions for the 2016 Cheiron Book Prize. The deadline for submissions has been extended by two weeks; books must now be received by October 15, 2015. The prize will be awarded at 2016 Annual Meeting of Cheiron in Barcelona, Spain.  Full details follow below.

2016 Cheiron BOOK PRIZE

Beginning in 2004, Cheiron: The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences has awarded the Cheiron Book Prize biennially for an outstanding monograph in the history of the social/behavioral/human sciences. For more on Cheiron, including past Book Prize winners, see https://www.uakron.edu/cheiron/

Eligible works for the 2016 Cheiron Book Prize include original book-length historical studies, written in English and published in 2013, 2014, or 2015. Topical areas can include, but are not limited to, histories of psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, sociology, and social statistics. Works that are primarily history of medicine or history of education are not suitable entries, unless they are strongly tied to the history of the social/behavioral/human sciences. Edited collections or anthologies are not eligible, nor are conventional textbooks. Submissions will be judged on the basis of their scholarly character, depth of research, and the importance of their contribution to the field. Submissions can be made by publishers or authors.

Deadline: Two copies of each entry must be received by the committee chair (address below) by October 15, 2015. Books that are released later in 2015 can be eligible for the next competition; only printed books are eligible.

The author of the winning book will receive $500 plus up to $300 in travel expenses to attend the 2016 Annual Meeting of Cheiron in Barcelona, Spain, where the prize will be awarded. Remote-electronic presentation may be arranged, if possible, for a winner who cannot make the meeting. Announcement of the award will be widely circulated to relevant journals and organizations.

To enter the competition, two copies of each entry, clearly labeled “2016 Cheiron Book Prize,” must be mailed directly to the committee chair:
Phyllis Wentworth
27 Tanager Street
Arlington, MA  02476
Email: wentworthp@wit.edu

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