The Brian McConnell Book Award

No award was given in 2017.  The 2016 award went to Keagan LeJeune’s Legendary Louisiana Outlaws: The Villains and Heroes of Folk Justice (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 2016). This work offers access to a legend cycle grounded in place and in social history, both local and statewide. LeJeune traces legends from the early years of Louisiana as it moved from a French and Spanish enclave to an American state up through the 1930s. LeJeune convincingly outlines how the Louisiana legend cycle about outlaws serves to maintain local identity today, particularly in the “Neutral Strip” bordering Texas. Of particular note are the intricacies of folk and institutional justice in the context of these legends, the legacy of the Civil War and resentment over incursions by Jayhawkers from the northern states, and the role that tourism and ostension play in sustaining the legend cycle. The analysis brings to bear extensive archival research and field work and relied on nuanced application of historical, legal and legend scholarship. This book makes a significant contribution to the field by presenting a compelling analysis of legends little known outside the region where they are told. The committee was also particularly impressed by the accessibility of the text, a fact that commends it for use in the classroom as well.

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 31st 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 31st 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. 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:

Carolyn Ware
2171 Oleander Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Please contact Carolyn Ware with any questions at

Recent winners

Keagan LeJeune, Legendary Louisiana Outlaws: The Villains and Heroes of Folk Justice. Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 2016.

Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle, Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype over Teen Sex. New York and London: NYU Press, 2014.

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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