The Journal of the History of Ideas awards the Selma V. Forkosch Prize ($500) for the best article published in the journal each year.

The winner of the JHI's Selma V. Forkosch Prize for the best article published in Volume 80 (2019) is Sophie Smith for "The Language of ‘Political Science’ in Early Modern Europe" (volume 80, no. 2, p. 203–26).

The judging committee provides the following statement:
The Selma V. Forkosch Prize committee has unanimously agreed to award the prize for the best essay published in the Journal of the History of Ideas in 2019 to Sophie Smith for her article "The Language of ‘Political Science’ in Early Modern Europe." The author lucidly explores what it meant to speak of ‘political science’ in Aristotle's key writings on politics and ethics, in medieval Latin commentaries on them, in early modern works on the theme, and in the views that Hobbes constructed in response. She examines with deep learning and great subtlety how ideas of the “political” and of “science,” which separately evolved in this long period, came to be understood in combination as an intelligible object of its own. Her essay, a model of clarity in exposition, examines the role of the texts she studies in raising new questions about the status of “politics” as something that could be investigated and taught and of “political science” itself as field of knowing having a distinctive language of its own.

For a list of the Selma V. Forkosch prize winners click here.


The Journal of the History of Ideas awards the Morris D. Forkosch Prize ($2,000) for the best book in intellectual history each year.

The winner of the 2019 Morris D. Forkosch Prize is Lydia Barnett, for After the Flood: Imagining the Global Environment in Early Modern Europe (Johns Hopkins University Press).

The judging committee provides the following statement:
Lydia Barnett’s After the Flood: Imagining the Global Environment in Early Modern Europe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019) makes a powerful and erudite argument to the effect that learned Europeans were thinking of the Earth’s environment in ways that were both global and involved human agency long before the age of the “Anthropocene” as it is now commonly understood. Crucial to these discussions was the Biblical account of the Universal Flood. Like Creation itself, the Flood was difficult to reconcile with Aristotelian natural philosophy, while its possible effects in the distant past, along with the possibility of a recurrence, prompted often startling speculation concerning the origins of human races, the differences among climactic zones, the separation of the continents, the causes of disease and the future of both mankind and the planet. Attempts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to create what has been called a Mosaic natural science coincided with Europe’s two centuries of religious struggle. Where other modern scholars have tended to assume in the denizens of the Republic of Letters a tolerant, cosmopolitan outlook that bridged competing versions of Christianity, Barnett shows that placing and accounting for the Universal Deluge in geohistory resulted in controversies along confessional lines. Barnett pushes scholars to take more seriously the premodern roots of environmentalist thinking and demonstrates persuasively that theology was not an obstacle to, but a vehicle for an emerging awareness of humanity’s capacity to alter nature on a global scale.


Eligible submissions are limited to the first book published by a single author, and to books published in English. The subject matter of submissions must pertain to one or more of the disciplines associated with intellectual history and the history of ideas broadly conceived: viz., history (including the histories of the various arts and sciences); philosophy (including the philosophy of science, aesthetics, and other fields); political thought; the social sciences (including anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology); and literature (including literary criticism, history and theory). 


No translations or collections of essays will be considered. The judges will favor publications displaying sound scholarship, original conceptualization, and significant chronological and interdisciplinary scope. 


Submissions (three copies of each nominated book) are accepted directly from publishers or directly from authorsThe deadline to submit books published in 2020 is March 1, 2021.  

If you wish to nominate a book, please contact the JHI's managing editor, Ida Stewart, at [email protected] for a shipping address and additional information. 

For a list of the Morris D. Forkosch prize winners click here.