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Jacobs Recipient of 2009-10 Hixon Fellowship

Edward Jacobs, associate professor of literature in Old Dominion University's English department, is the 2009-10 recipient of the Robin L. Hixon Faculty Research Fellowship. Jacobs will use the fellowship to complete a long-standing project analyzing the history and cultural effects of changes in the content, organization and graphic layout of British newspapers in the early 1700s and mid-1800s.

This period spans the time from when newspapers first consolidated their position as a mainstay of Britain's print-based public sphere to when they adapted to the emergent technologies and the social changes that defined the "Victorian" periodical press.

Previous research by Jacobs on John Cleave's Weekly Police Gazette, the best-selling unstamped newspaper of the so-called "War of the Unstamped Press" in 1830s Britain, uncovered copies of early issues that were not known to exist.

Jacobs, who joined ODU in 1992, has written several recent essays related to his research on British newspapers and his work on understanding how the actual, physical, bibliographical forms of publications interacted with their content and their readership.

With Manuela Mourão, also an associate professor of English at ODU, Jacobs recently co-edited and wrote the introduction to a new edition of William Harrison Ainsworth's "Jack Sheppard," a historical novel based on the exploits of a thief who was executed in 1724 (Broadview Press, 2007). The novel was blamed for inciting working-class crime and vagrancy for decades after its 1839 publication.

"I'm honored and delighted to be the recipient of the Robin L. Hixon Fellowship," Jacobs said. "In the current economic climate, it's a rare privilege to receive a fellowship like this one, and I'm especially happy to receive one that honors and continues Mrs. Hixon's lifelong service to the arts in our community."

The fellowship, established in 2008 by Board of Visitors member and former rector, James Hixon, is a memorial gift to honor his wife and her love of reading. The fellowship will reduce the teaching load and offset the costs of research for a faculty member of the English department engaged in writing a book-length manuscript or compiling a substantial body of research.

"This fellowship will allow me the research time to complete a project on British newspapers of the 18th and 19th centuries that has occupied me for nearly a decade, and it will also pay for rights to reproduce images from newspapers that I would otherwise have to pay for out of my own pocket. It's really an honor and a godsend," Jacobs said.

This article was posted on: June 15, 2009

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