The Journal of the History of Ideas awards the Selma V. Forkosch Prize ($750) 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 81 (2020) is Sharon Achinstein, for “Hugo Grotius and Marriage’s Global Past: Conjugal Thinking in Early Modern Political Thought” (volume 81, number 2, pages 195–215).

The judging committee provides the following statement:

The committee has agreed to award the prize for the best essay published in the Journal of the History of Ideas in 2020 to Sharon Achinstein, “Hugo Grotius and Marriage’s Global Past: Conjugal Thinking in Early Modern Political Thought” (vol. 81, no. 2, pp. 195–215). In an extensive examination of the Dutch early modern political theorist, Hugo Grotius, Achinstein traces how the “gendered logic” of marriage, which positioned wives under the guardianship or tutelage of their husbands, extends to political theory and theories of the state. In stunning detail, Achinstein describes how the power dynamics of marriage structure secular political dichotomies; among them, marriage explains unequal relations in contracts, the right of resistance, for example, and more abstract questions of freedom and autonomy. As Grotius’s work had considerable influence on international law, Achinstein provides an impressive discussion of the manner in which conjugal power dynamics structure the framework for colonial law.


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 ($2,500) 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 authors. The deadline to submit books published in 2021 is March 1, 2022.  

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.