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New reviews: Lincoln and Latin America, English clergy, Louis XIV and the Indian Army

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lincolndouglasWe start this week with Slavery, Race and Conquest in the Tropics : Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America by Robert E. May. Phillip Magness and the author debate a book which gives us a Civil War that was both the product of international affairs, and a shaping force on their subsequent course (no. 1717, with response here).

Then we turn to Hugh M. Thomas’s The Secular Clergy in England, 1066-1216, and Katherine Harvey and the author discuss a book which is surely destined to become one of the definitive works in the field for many years to come (no. 1716, with response here).

Next up is Status Interaction During the Reign of Louis XIV by Giora Sternberg. Linda Kiernan believes this book presents historians of the court with a vigorous model to test (no. 1715).

Finally we have George Morton-Jack’s The Indian Army on the Western Front: India’s Expeditionary Force to France and Belgium in the First World War. Adam Prime finds this to be an extremely stimulating book, which should appeal to academics and enthusiasts alike (no. 1714).

New reviews: London women, Tokyo Zoo, Callaghan Government, Mystic Ark

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williamsFirst up is Women, Work and Sociability in Early Modern London by Tim Reinke-Williams. Hannah Hogan and the author discuss an inspiring starting-point for further, in-depth histories of women, work and sociability in early modern England (no. 1713, with response here).

Then we turn to Ian Jared Miller’s The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo, which Jonathan Saha recommends as being important beyond its obvious and substantial contribution to both Japanese history and zoo history (no. 1712).

Next up is Crisis? What Crisis? The Callaghan Government and the British ‘Winter of Discontent’ by John Shepherd. Ian Cawood reviews a concisely written, forensic political analysis of the defining historical myth by which all British political parties still live (no. 1711).

Finally we have The Mystic Ark: Hugh of Saint Victor, Art, and Thought in the Twelfth Century by Conrad Rudolph, which Karl Kinsella believes to be a thoroughly worked out and thoughtful piece of scholarship (no. 1710).

 

Welcome to PORT

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This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Matthew Phillpott, SAS-Space Manager and SAS Digital Project Officer.

PORT01For those of you who have been using the Institute of Historical Research’s online research training platform, History SPOT you will have noticed a variety of changes recently. The sites web address has changed, its name has changed, and its design has changed.

The refit of History SPOT and its transformation into PORT (Postgraduate Online Research Training) is an exciting development. We believed that the old site was beginning to look tired but yet its contents still remain useful and relevant and there is still so much scope for expansion.

In addition the opportunity arose to merge the IHR’s efforts with the wider efforts of the School of Advanced Study (of which the IHR is one component). History SPOT has therefore become PORT, an online research training platform not just for historians, but for all humanities studies.

This is a good thing for historians. The extent of training provision on PORT will rapidly expand over the next few years and a vast amount of it will be relevant to students studying history.  Already, PORT provides additional resources offering advice about completing a PhD and a host of handbooks providing links to modern languages resources. Soon a resource will be launched providing introductory guidance to research using quantitative methods, various videos covering all kinds of research needs, and more ‘history’ focused courses, such as managing your data as an historian.

So please do check out PORT and let us know what you think.

http://port.sas.ac.uk

[Note: Those familiar with History SPOT will see that not all of the old resources are currently online. These just require a quick fix to work with the new design and will be reappearing over the coming weeks]

 

New reviews: Andrew Melville, Ireland and the Congo, Napoleon and the Royal Navy

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Andrew_Melville_upbraids_a_bishop_at_the_court_of_James_VI

Andrew Melville upbraiding a bishop

First up this week we have Andrew Melville (1545–1622): Writings, Reception, and Reputation, edited by Steven J. Reid and Roger Mason. Alasdair Raffe and the editors discuss an edited collection from which there is much to learn, both about a poet and intellectual, and about his religious and political circumstances (no. 1709, with response here).

Next up, Michael Kennedy and Art Magennis’s Ireland, the United Nations and the Congo, and Bernadette Whelan tackles this meticulously researched and tightly argued work of military and diplomatic history (no. 1708).

Then we have to thank Charles Esdaile casting his eye over a number of major works produced to mark the bicentenary of Napoleon’s downfall, as he reviews Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny by Michael Broers; Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815 by Philip Dwyer; Napoleon by Alan Forrest; Napoleon: the End of Glory by Munro Price; and Forging Napoleon’s Grande Armée: Motivation, Military Culture and Masculinity in the French Army, 1800-1808 by Michael J. Hughes (no. 1707, with response here).

Finally, we turn to the History of the Royal Navy, and Richard Harding and the series editor Duncan Redford discuss the first three volumes of a new history of the British Navy (no. 1706, with response here).

New reviews: 1812 revisited, Kershaw interview, phenomenology and the history of the psyche

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kershaw2We start with the latest installment in our occasional podcast series. Daniel Snowman talks to Professor Sir Ian Kershaw about his forthcoming contribution to the Penguin History of Europe series (no. 1705).

Next, following his original piece for us last year, Jasper Trautsch has revised and updated his overview of works on the War of 1812, taking into account a number of new publications (no. 1387).

Then we turn to David Carr’s Experience and History: Phenomenological Perspectives on the Historical World. Hanna Clutterbuck thinks this book will be a valuable resource for almost any historian interested in thinking more widely about his or her subject (no. 1704).

Finally we have The Transformation of the Psyche in British Primary Care 1880-1970 by Rhodri Hayward. Roger Smith and the author discuss a book which successfully marries the theoretically reflexive practices of science studies and cultural studies with the empirical precision historians necessarily demand (no. 1703, with response here).

School of Advanced Study makes digital history with new appointment

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Jane_web_largeThe School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London has promoted Dr Jane Winters, currently head of digital publications at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), to a personal chair in digital history. In the post below she explains a little bit about the development of digital history at the IHR.

In the summer of 1996 I was interviewed for my first job at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR). I can remember being asked whether I had ever used the web, to which the answer was an unqualified ‘no’. It’s a sign of how little penetration this new technology had that I got the job anyway. I might not have been familiar with it, but the IHR’s website (then called a ‘hypertext internet server’) had been up and running for almost three years. IHR-Info, which would become the current history.ac.uk website, was funded by Jisc as part of the Electronic Libraries programme (eLib), and this early investment laid the groundwork for twenty years of innovation in digital history within the Institute. In 1999, the IHR’s print and digital publishing activities were unified, although the IHR Digital brand was only applied in October 2010. During the past fifteen years, the department has been involved with a range of major digital research projects, including British History Online, the Bibliography of British and Irish History, Connected Histories, Early English Laws, Reviews in History and the History of Parliament Online. In keeping with the remit of the wider School of Advanced Study, its role has to been to promote and facilitate historical research nationally and internationally – by digitising primary sources, developing new tools, and identifying and mediating new developments in digital research.

All of this activity has been defined not just by innovation but by collaboration and partnership, whether with other institutes in SAS or with other universities, libraries and archives. It is also interdisciplinary, as evidenced by a project such as Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data, which brings together historians, political scientists, computational linguists, and computer and information scientists. As new Professor of Digital History, it is this collaborative and interdisciplinary activity which I am most keen to develop. The most interesting digital research tends to happen in the spaces between disciplines, involving people with a range of complementary subject and technical knowledge. The School of Advanced Study is well placed to foster such collaboration, and to act as a neutral space for the discussion of the significant issues facing us as humans in a digital age.

One of the exciting things about working in a field such as digital history is that you don’t know what will turn out to be important two or three years down the line. At the moment, I am particularly occupied with big data, through involvement with two projects funded by the AHRC (Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities and Traces through Time: Prosopography in Practice across Big Data) and the parliamentary history project that I’ve already mentioned, funded under the Digging into Data Challenge 3. Other areas on which I would like to focus include linked data, open access (of course!), the potential of the archived web for historical research, the communication of research using digital tools, making and materiality, and how humanities researchers engage with sound and moving image. I suspect that this list will look very different in a few years’ time, but it is probably enough to be going on with for now. I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

New reviews: African intervention, medicine and religion, Ireland and colonialism and Jazz Age New York

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millerWe start this week with Elizabeth Schmidt’s Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, as Jason Robinson and the author discuss a book which should prove useful and readable to many of those new to post-Cold War African history (no. 1702, with response here).

Next up is Medicine and Religion: A Historical Introduction by Gary B. Ferngren. Sophie Mann believes this work merits readership from any non-expert seeking a historical perspective on religious attitudes to sickness and healing (no. 1701).

Then we turn to Audrey Horning’s Ireland in a Virginia Sea. Emma Hart reviews a book which is a reminder that as historians move towards ever larger scales of inquiry, they should make sure that they integrate their approach with the insights provided by micro-history (no. 1700).

Finally we have a review article on Jazz Age New York by Christian O’Connell, in which he tackles Imperial Blues: Geographies of Race and Sex in Jazz Age New York by Fiona I. B. Ngô and Donald Miller’s Supreme City: How Jazz Age Manhattan Gave Birth to Modern America, which demonstrate that its history is a fertile ground for new scholarship, but also reveal the city’s ability to dazzle even the keenest minds (no. 1699).

Version 5.0 of British History Online now available

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BHOhomepageBritish History Online (BHO) is pleased to announce version 5.0 of its website, launched December 2014. Work on the website redevelopment began in January 2014 and involved a total rebuild of the BHO database and a complete redesign of its website.

For over a decade, BHO has been a reliable and accessible resource for primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland. Throughout the years, the project has evolved and adapted to changing technologies, new user demands and a variety of content, but as an eleven-year old web project, it was starting to look its age. We faced a problem very similar to the one described by the Internet Archive: our project had evolved far beyond the capabilities of our website and it was time for a comprehensive redesign of British History Online.

In order to rebuild, we had to start over from scratch. We switched to a new content management system and set about reconstructing our site. All the content has remained the same, but we have created completely new interfaces through which to access it.

The new search interface has been designed in response to user requests to be able to narrow down their search results. By applying one or multiple filters, users can control the level of specificity in their searches. The title search queries series and publication titles, and can be combined with the keyword search to further refine results. The new browse interface allows users to see everything that BHO has at a glance. They can also browse by source type, place, subject or period.

All the changes that we have made to BHO have been to increase the usability and searchability of the site as a whole. We have stripped the site down to its core, but we are eager to add new features over the coming year.

We are also very excited to introduce new subscription levels. With version 5.0, we have added premium page scans to BHO for the very first time. These page scans will be available to institutional subscribers, and we have introduced several new subscription levels to make them available to individual subscribers as well.

Finally, we were inspired by the Society of American Archivists’ Spontaneous Scholarships and came up with a way for members of the BHO community to support one another. We invite BHO users to contribute to our subscription scholarship fund, which will give out free year-long subscriptions to postgraduate students and early career researchers. Learn about how to contribute.

Lots of changes to BHO and we hope our users will be as excited about them as we are (if that is even possible)! We look forward to hearing what you think!

New reviews: Anglo-Saxon theology, Scottish Enlightenment towns, early modern faith and WW1 diaries

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Wulfstan Archbishop of York 1002-1023

Wulfstan Archbishop of York 1002-1023

We start this week with Heaven and Earth in Anglo-Saxon England: Theology and Society in an Age of Faith by Helen Foxhall Forbes. Máirín Mac Carron and the author discuss a book which breaks new ground in considering the widespread Anglo-Saxon population’s engagement with Christian beliefs (no. 1698, with response here).

Then we turn to Bob Harris and Charles McKean’s The Scottish Town in the Age of the Enlightenment 1740-1820, which Ian Donnachie finds to be a formidable and scholarly volume, and a major contribution to urban, social and cultural history (no. 1697).

Next up is The Soteriology of James Ussher The Act and Object of Saving Faith by Richard Snoddy, which Susan Royal welcomes as a major contribution to the field of historical theology (no. 1696).

Finally we have the acerbic Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street, edited by Michael and Eleanor Brock. Iain Sharpe reviews a labour of love carried out with great care and professionalism (no. 1695).

 

New reviews: Scottish gender, Paris 1944, medieval magic and Poland

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carrAnyway, we begin with Gender and Enlightenment Culture in Eighteenth-Century Scotland by Rosalind Carr, as Stana Nenadic and the author discuss a useful and brave attempt to embrace a complex, ephemeral and hard to define phenomenon (no. 1694, with response here).

Next up is Matthew Cobb’s Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris in 1944. Karine Varley praises a book which is meticulously researched, engaging with a range of French, British and American archival sources, as well as numerous first-hand accounts and secondary works (no. 1693).

Then we turn to Magic in the Cloister: Pious Motives, Illicit Interests, and Occult Approaches to the Medieval Universe by Sophie Page. Helen Nicholson believes this study provides a context for the widespread accusations of sorcery and diabolism against political opponents in the 14th century (no. 1692).

Finally we have Brian Porter-Szűcs’ Poland in the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom. Anita Prazmowska is not convinced that this book fills a gap in the market (no. 1691).

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