The HOTCUS Article Prize and Early Career Article Prize recognize the outstanding research being published by HOTCUS members. A prize of £100.00 will be awarded to the best article on a twentieth-century US history topic published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal during the previous calendar year. All the details for the 2024 round of applications is available at HOTCUS Article Prizes.

The 2023 HOTCUS Article Prize was awarded to Zoe Colley (University of Dundee) who won the first prize for her article “Erasing Minds: Behavioral Modification, the Prison Rights Movement, and Psychological Experimentation in America’s Prisons, 1962–1983” published in the Journal of American Studies.In their comments, the committee praised Colley’s work, highlighting that:

“In her compelling analysis of the use of behavioural modification programmes in the American penal system in the 1960s and 1970s, Zoe Colley convincingly establishes the critical role that psychologists and psychiatrists played in the development of the carceral state in the latter 20th century. Centring her analysis on the Marion Federal Penitentiary, Colley illustrates how behavioural scientists used psychological torture to “correct” perceived deficiencies in politically radical men, employing techniques such as brainwashing, sensory deprivation, or the use of psychotropic substances to subjugate them beneath the guise of rehabilitation. Although Colley’s article details the horrifying experiences that Black nationalists, Chicanos, and other politically active prisoners underwent while locked in Marion, her work also shines a light on the organized resistance and political solidarity of these men. Coordinating strikes, legal challenges, and external campaigning these men successfully resisted this dehumanization, even though they were ultimately unable to prevent the rise of the supermax system in the 1980s and 1990s. By examining this institution and the wider discourse about penal reform, Colley has refined our understanding of the transition from rehabilitation to more punitive measures within American penitentiaries and encourages us to think more broadly about the intersections between the histories of psychology, the penal system, and the prison reform movement.”

The committee also awarded an honourable mention to Katharina Rietzler (University of Sussex) for her article “U.S. Foreign Policy Think Tanks and Women’s Intellectual Labor, 1920–1950” publlished in Diplomatic History.

Many congratulations to Stephen Colbrook (University of Oxford) who won the 2023 HOTCUS ECR Article Prize for his article “Clandestine Networks and Closeted Bureaucrats: AIDS and the Forming of a Gay Policy Network in California”  published in the Journal of Policy History

The committee commended this work, noting that: 

“Stephen Colbrook’s innovative article painstakingly pieces together the efforts of California’s gay civil servants and lobbyists to influence the response to the AIDS crisis, providing a critical intervention that refocuses our attention on the role of individual states during the early years of the epidemic. Examining the development of state legislation, Colbrook shines a light on how openly gay civil servants were able to cultivate bipartisan networks of support to help develop less intrusive measures that could protect those living with the virus from being discriminated against in access to healthcare, employment, and housing. The article also demonstrates how such campaigners gained support for such progressive measures by couching their advocacy in the language of fiscal conservatism and respect for individual rights that would appeal to California’s conservatives and the political climate of the 1980s. Furthermore, Colbrook is able to uncover how such policy makers relied on their contacts in the gay and lesbian community and a secret network of closeted bureaucrats in California’s civil service to relay concerns of institutional homophobia and inform their approaches. Although such efforts were kept off the official record, Colbrook has managed to employ interviews to corroborate the influence of this clandestine network and reframe our understanding of contradictory roles of the closet and coming out in the gay and lesbian rights movement. By focusing on state politics and individual policy makers, Colbrook’s intervention in histories of the AIDS crisis not only nuances our understanding the political response to the epidemic but illustrates the paradoxical relationship between openly gay activists and closeted individuals in the politics of the late 20th century American history.”  

The committee also awarded an honourable mention to Catriona Byers (King’s College London) in the ECR category for her article “Rethinking New York’s ‘dark shadow’: managing the unclaimed dead on Hart Island, 1869 to the present day” published in Architecture_MPS.

Previous Winners:

2022: Christian O’Connell (University of Gloucestershire) ‘A Roman Holiday? African Americans and Italians in the Second World War’ in History.
Early Career: Emma Day (University of Oxford) ‘The Fire Inside: Women Protesting AIDS in Prison since 1980’ in Modern American History. For details of the committee’s citations click here.

2021: Patrick Hagopian (Lancaster University) ‘The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Politics of Post-Racialism,’ in History and Memory.
Early Career: Sarah Thomson (University of Edinburgh)  ‘Presidential Travel and the Rose Garden Strategy: a case study of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 tour of Europe,’ in Presidential Studies Quarterly. For details of the committee’s citations click here.

2020: Kaeten Mistry (University of East Anglia) ‘A Transnational Protest Against the National Security State’: Whistle-Blowing, Philip Agee, and Networks of Dissent’ in Journal of American History. For details of the committee’s citation, click here.

2019: Daniel Matlin (Kings College London) ‘ʺA New Reality of Harlem”: Imagining the African American Urban Future during the 1960s’ in Journal of American Studies. For details of the committee’s citation, click here.

2018: Christopher Phelps (University of Nottingham), “The Sexuality of Malcolm X” in Journal of American Studies. For details of the committee’s citation, click here.

2017: Maria McGrath (Bucks County Community College), “Living Feminist: The Liberation and Limits of Countercultural Business and Radical Lesbian Ethics at Bloodroot Restaurant” in The Sixties: Journal of History, Politics and Culture. For details of the committee’s citation, click here.