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Jan 8, 2008

The Cliopatria Awards, 2007

At the 5th Annual Banquet of the Cliopatricians at the American Historical Association convention in Washington, DC, the winners of The Cliopatria Awards for 2007 were announced. Many thanks to Jeremy Boggs of ClioWeb and George Mason University who designed the logo for The Cliopatria Awards. Thanks also to the judges who made the difficult decisions in selecting winners of the awards from among the many excellent nominations: Ancarett, Timothy Burke, Miriam Elizabeth Burstein, Rebecca Goetz, Paul Harvey, Sharon Howard, Elizabeth Klaczynski, Adam Roberts, and John Carter Wood. They have done a fine job. Here, then, are the winners and brief explanations of the judge's rationale for their decisions:

The Cliopatria Awards

Best Group Blog: In the Middle

In the Middle is a medievalist blog, written by J. J. Cohen, Mary Kate Hurley, Eileen Joy, and Karl Steel. We were impressed by the blog's interdisciplinary approach, its consistently intelligent prose, its effective blend of wit and genuine scholarship, and its ability to follow the medieval wherever it might lead—from popular culture to high theory. In recent months, posts have ranged from Beowulf at the movies to the significance of animals in the middle ages. As one committee member remarked, this is, in many ways, a"model group blog."

Best Individual Blog: Civil War Memory

Kevin Levin's Civil War Memory is an impressive individual blog, with a track record of several years. It commonly offers the best of both military history blogging and history blogging about the broader political, intellectual, and social context of regional conflict. This past year, for example, Civil War Memory has devoted considerable attention to the Lost Cause myth and the quest for Black Confederates.

Best New Blog: Religion in American History

Religion in American History is a well-written blog with a clear focus, a great example of how blogging can be used to present scholarship in a specialist academic field to a much wider audience and to create solid practical resources for teachers and researchers. With a varied mix of commentaries, news, useful announcements and book reviews, the writers engage with both scholarly and popular history issues and show the relevance of religion in history to religious issues today.

Best Post: Timothy Burke,"Knowledge is Inconvenient," Cliopatria, 27 September

In tackling Michael Medved's Six Inconvenient Truths about the Atlantic Slave Trade, Tim Burke performed one of the primary functions of excellent history blogging. He identified bad history and patiently explained what was so bad about it. In light of Burke's argument, Medved's caricature of current scholarship and teaching about the Atlantic slave trade was exposed as a fraud.

Best Series of Posts: Errol Morris,"Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?" Zoom, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three, 25 September, 4 October, and 23 October.

Morris became fascinated by the cannonballs pictured in Roger Fenton's Crimean war photographs,"Valley of the Shadow of Death": was the second photograph, in which cannonballs can be seen scattered on the road,"staged"? Morris' quest for the answer not only demonstrated the process of historical research in action, but also raised a number of pertinent questions about photographs as historical documents. For depth, attention to detail (including a trip to the Crimea!) and narrative flair, this series was unmatched.

Best Writer: Caleb Crain, Steamboats are Ruining Everything

The judges' aim was to reward writing that is well tailored to the history blogosphere, accessible, memorable and consistently history-oriented. Caleb Crain is always readable and thought-provoking; an engaging writer who pays attention to the constraints of the blog format but breaks them with style on occasion.

Congratulations both to the winners of the Awards and to the excellent competition offered by the other nominees!

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