The program formerly known as British Studies is now the Program in British, Irish and Empire Studies (BIES). The change comes as Professor Philippa Levine, former Guggenheim Fellow and 2020–21 Eastman Professor at Oxford University, assumes sole directorial duties after serving as co-Director for several years. The four-decade-old program has been remodeled to better encompass a larger, more inclusive history that includes Ireland, Scotland, and Wales—nations deeply intertwined for hundreds of years—and to focus on themed topics that reflect where the discipline is heading into the future.
“The program is flipping the typical ‘Masterpiece-Theatre-type history’ on its head to broaden the story and the range of expression that truly encompasses the history of this part of the world,” noted Professor Levine. “In doing so, we create a greater freedom and ability to have productive conversations and to grow our ambition in new ways to show how this work is important, both for its own sake, and for its ability to inform our ideas of American- and world history.”
This spring’s virtual speaker series focused on “Brexit One Year On: Nine Sessions on Britain’s departure from the European Union and its Consequences” The programming also features unusual pairings of scholars and thinkers across different eras and regions in discussion and debate, all weighing in from a broad swath of political, academic, and theoretical perspectives.
The program aims to reach an audience and speakers well beyond Texas and the UK, and is also working to make its foci more impactful to UT, by offering its students, faculty, and staff opportunities to think critically, to argue cogently and productively, and to consider the varied opinions and positions within its own community.
BIES also offers a growing roster of competitive undergraduate and graduate research fellowship opportunities, and has awarded over a dozen fellowships each semester during 2021-22, with the hope of growing an even larger cohort moving forward.
Current students in the program are focused on topics such as women working aboard ships as Britain transitioned from sail to steam, working-class self-education practices and ideals in nineteenth-century Britain and Australia, masculinity in punk communities in northern England in the late twentieth century, and more.