The British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) is delighted to award the 2013 Dingle Prize to David Wright for Downs: The History of a Disability. Published by Oxford University Press this excellent book is a genuine attempt to engage a wide audience of non-specialists in a way that reflects some of the major virtues of current historiography of medicine and science. The judges commented that Wright has produced “a terrific book” and “a little gem”, which “has valuable contributions to make to current debates” in the history of science and medicine. In dealing with the history of Down’s syndrome – a subject for which very few other wide-ranging historical studies exist, but for which there is a substantial secondary literature from other perspectives – Wright has also achieved the Prize’s requirement to “re-examine a well-known historical incident or achievement, or bring new perspective to previously neglected figures or fields in the past.” Wright’s book faced stiff competition from over sixty other nominations, and this represents the largest field of entries ever for this competition.
The judges also strongly commend both D. Graham Burnett’s The Sounding of the Whale (University of Chicago Press) and Jon Agar’s Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Polity). Both books are truly extraordinary in their depth (Burnett) and breadth (Agar), and make significant contributions to the history of science and more broadly to our understanding of twentieth-century history. They are also remarkable in being books that, while written primarily with a scholarly audience in mind, are nevertheless accessible and of interest to a wider audience, and an excellent advertisement for the discipline.
Dr Simon Chaplin (Chair), Dr Tim Boon, Dr Sabine Clarke, Dr Sophie Forgan, Dr Melanie Keene, Dr James Stark (Outreach and Education Committee Chair)
ABOUT THE DINGLE PRIZE
The BSHS Dingle Prize is awarded every two years to “the best book in the history of science (broadly construed) published in English … which is accessible to a wide audience of non-specialists.” The prize is very much in keeping with the Society’s concern to communicate history of science to broad audiences.
The winning book should present some aspect of the field in an engaging and comprehensible manner and should also show proper regard for historical methods and the results of historical research: for example, it might re-examine a well-known historical incident or achievement, or bring new perspective to previously neglected figures or fields in the past.
The value of the Dingle Prize is £300. The Prize was established in 1997 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Society, and is named after the astronomer, physicist, and philosopher of science Herbert Dingle, a founder member of the BSHS and active populariser of the subject. The winning author has the opportunity to present a public lecture on the topic of their book to coincide with the major International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine which will happen in Manchester in July 2013.
For all enquiries and further information please contact:
Dr James Stark 0113 3432021 | firstname.lastname@example.org
In July 2012 David gave a lecture at the Langdon Down Museum: Earlswood, Asylums for Idiot Children & Learning Disabilities in Victorian England. His talk discussed the establishment and early history of medical institutions for children with learning disabilities, facilities that were originally termed ‘asylums for idiots’. It placed the emergence of these institutions within a broader Victorian context, illuminating the contemporary medical interest in childhood disabilities as well as examining the identification of ‘Mongolism’ by John Langdon Down when he was superintendent of the Earlswood Asylum.
David Wright is Professor of the History of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal. He is author of Mental Disability in Victorian England: The Earlswood Asylum 1847-1901 and Downs: the history of a disability (Oxford University Press, 2011).