The Brian McConnell Book Award

In 2015 the committee unanimously agreed that Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle’s book Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype over Teen Sex was most deserving of the McConnell prize. This work advances the work of Linda Dégh, documenting the central role that print and broadcast media play in generating and circulating legends about social problems. It also demonstrates the role of the internet as a seminal conduit for legend transmission. More importantly, this book presents a thorough and innovative methodology to use the web to mine data and to track legend spread, trends, and popularity. The analysis of comments on discussion forums, in blogs and in comments on news article is especially revelatory.  The committee commends the authors for addressing head-on the distinction between the academic genre of “contemporary legend” as a plausible, if exaggerated, truth, and the popular concept of “urban legend” as an untruth in contemporary discourse. Their approach builds upon legend research and provides a middle ground for between folkloristics and sociology, a major contribution that will strengthen both fields.


The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research has established an annual book prize in honor of Brian McConnell. The purpose of the award is to encourage scholarship in the field, to recognize and inspire standards of excellence in contemporary legend publications and to commemorate the life and work of Brian McConnell, a long time member of ISCLR, celebrated crime reporter, author and legend scholar.

The prize is for a book receiving its first publication in the period 1st April to the following 30th March, for award the following summer. Only books published during the proceeding twelve months will be considered. Eligible books will include original material or new scholarly editions of previously published texts, but excludes reprints.

Three copies of each book submitted for the award should reach the judges, c/o the Society’s President, by 30 March. Books submitted for the award will not be returned. The winner will be announced at the Annual General Meeting of ISCLR. The main prize will be the award itself, but the winning author (or authors) will also be presented with $250 (US).

There will be three judges appointed by the Society’s Council, one of whom will be the Society’s President, or First Vice-President. The judges may, at their discretion, consider books which have not been formally submitted for the prize. The winning book will be that which, in the opinion of the judges made the most distinguished contribution to the study of contemporary legend in the year in question.

Books to be considered for the McConnell Award should be sent in triplicate to:

Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby
Department of Modern and Classical Languages
1055 Patterson Office Tower
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506, USA

Recent winners

Eda Kalmre, The Human Sausage Factory: A Study of Post-War Rumour in Tartu. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2013.
Not awarded
Andrea Kitta, Vaccinations and Public Concern in Concern in History: Legend, Rumor, and Risk Perception. New York: Routledge, 2012.
Shelley R. Adler, Sleep Paralysys: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2011.
Not awarded
Not awarded
Diane E. Goldstein, Sylvia Ann Grider, and Jeannie Banks Thomas, Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2007.

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