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New reviews: unbelief, Charleston Syllabus, Wessex Danes and ancient wisdom (again)

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Martin Luther, as ever the life and soul of the party…

First up this week we have Dominic Erdozain’s The Soul of Doubt: the Religious Roots of Unbelief from Luther to Marx, as Charlotte Methuen and Dominic Erdozain discuss a fascinating study of the ways in which religious faith could open the door to doubt (no. 2031, with response here).

Then we turn to the Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence, edited by Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams and Keisha N. Blain. Lydia Plath praises an innovative crowdsourced response to the tragic events of Charleston (no. 2030).

Next up is Danes in Wessex : the Scandinavian impact on southern England, c.800-c.1100, edited by Ryan Lavelle and Simon Roffey. Jeremy Haslam reviews an edited collection which should provide all students of the period with material to ponder and enjoy (no. 2029).

Finally, we also have a lengthy response by Dmitri Levitin to our earlier review of Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science: Histories of Philosophy in England, c1640-1700, which you can read here.

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Searching for Jewish resources on the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Codex Manesse, fol. 355r

This blog post aims to address some of the potential problems that may be experienced by users new to the bibliography.

We wanted to do this using an example, and so we thought we’d pick a popular topic of research, Jewish history, in which area recent publications include Sharks and Shylocks : Englishness and otherness in popular discourse on ‘the City’ 1870–1914, The Irish Free State’s first diplomats : jealousy, anti-Semitism and revengePerformance anxiety and the Passion in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament and Isaac and Antichrist in the archives. With such broad examples of subject matter, the following steps are designed to help you maximise the search features of the BBIH, and to tailor the search results to your specific interest.

For a simple search, covering all periods, the BBIH has 2692 entries:

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While this is informative for statistics and general coverage, the resources are too broad for those undertaking more specific research. Therefore narrowing down the period covered would filter the results further. For example, Jewish people in the medieval period:

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Which produces the following 486 results:

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Click to enlarge

This has narrowed the results down considerably. However, if your research interest is in a particular field, for example medieval Jewish women, you can locate exactly the right resources by going into ‘Advanced Search’. Choose ‘Jews’ from the Subject tree or type ‘Jews’ in the search box, then type ‘women’ in the Subject tree, making sure to select ‘and‘ rather than ‘or‘ from the Boolean functions:

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Insert the search terms (using the insert/close button) and once again apply the same date range. It is clear that the search results have narrowed considerably (to 28):

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Clicking on the search button then displays the details of the resources.

The SEE ALSO options on the main search for ‘All index terms’ can also provide prompts for other areas of exploration:

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Another useful tip for general browsing is to go into the record to see how the subject hierarchy has searched through the subject index to arrive at the result:

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To receive notifications of new resources, please sign up to our email alert option. The bibliography is updated three times a year, and you will be alerted to any new material in your chosen subject field. For additional medieval Jewish resources and reviews, see Dean Irwin’s Towards a Bibliography of Medieval Anglo-Jewry.

Initial image – full citation: Süßkind, der Jude von Trimberg (Süsskind, the Jew of Trimberg), portrait from the Codex Manesse.

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New reviews: Benjamin Franklin, medieval popes, Arthur Balfour and race and the American Revolution

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Benjamin Franklin in London

Our reviews this week kick off with George Goodwin’s Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father. Angel-Luke O’Donnell and the author discuss an immersive biography, useful for anyone interested in 18th-century sociability (no. 2028, with response here).

Next up Benedict Wiedemann reviews two different but equally valuable approaches to the medieval papacy, Popes and Jews 1095-1291 by Rebecca Rist and Pope Innocent II (1130-1143): The World vs the City, edited by John Doran and Damien J. Smith (no. 2027).

Then we turn to Balfour’s World: Aristocracy and Political Culture at the Fin de Siècle by Nancy W. Ellenberger. Andrew Hillier praises a fresh and illuminating perspective of what would otherwise be familiar territory (no. 2026).

Finally we have Robert G. Parkinson’s Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution. Jonathan Wilson recommends an account that deserves attention from any historian studying early American national identity, racism, western expansion, or print culture (no. 2025).

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New reviews: smallpox, history of philosophy, wonder and the Somme

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Dr. Donald A. Henderson (right), who led the World Health Organization effort to eradicate smallpox, examines a child's vaccination scar in Ethiopia.

Dr. Donald A. Henderson (right), who led the World Health Organization effort to eradicate smallpox, examines a child’s vaccination scar in Ethiopia.

We start this week with The End of a Global Pox by Bob H. Reinhardt, as Susan Heydon and the author discuss a valuable contribution to the literature on smallpox eradication (no. 2024, with response here).

Next up is Dmitri Levitin’s Ancient Wisdom in the Age of the New Science: Histories of Philosophy in England, c1640-1700. William Bulman enjoys a book full of subtly analyzed, elaborately contextualized, extensively detailed, and often interrelated examples (no. 2023).

Then we turn to Keagan Brewer’s Wonder and Skepticism in the Middle Ages, as Stephen Spencer praises a thought-provoking discussion of wonder, skepticism and marvels (no. 2022).

Finally Ross Davies marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme with the second part of his bibliography (no. 2021). Don’t forget to check out this Somme-related blog post by my BBIH colleague Simon Baker as well – http://blog.history.ac.uk/2016/09/the-battle-of-the-somme-have-you-seen-the-big-push-films/.

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New reviews: Federal Writers’ Project, the Philadelphians, Barbarossa and American Myth

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5 Writers Exhibit State FairWe begin this week with Catherine A. Stewart’s Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers’ Project. David Cox and the author discuss a superbly researched, engaging, and insightful book (no. 2020, with response here).

Next up is Jane Lead and her Transnational Legacy, edited by Ariel Hessayon. Liam Temple reviews a valuable and timely collection of essays that offers new direction to those concerned with studying the Philadelphians (no. 2019).

Then we turn to John B. Freed’s Frederick Barbarossa: the Prince and the Myth. Thomas Foerster believes that this book will become the standard work in English on Frederick Barbarossa and 12th-century Germany (no. 2018).

Finally we have Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in 1960s and 1970s American Myth and History by Matthew Wilhelm Kapell. Kendrick Oliver thinks that a more polished and persuasive book would have better explored these worthwhile themes (no. 2017).

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Reviews in History US election special!

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Hillary-Clinton-2016-FacebookLess than a week to go until the US elections, and, thanks to the hard work of our editorial board member Daniel Peart, we are able to present an election special – four books showing the ways in which the current generation of American politicians use history to promote their own brand of politics.

We start with the current frontrunner and potential first-ever woman president, Hilary Clinton, and her Hard Choices. Karen Heath believes this memoir will be of particular interest to students of the political uses of history (no. 2016).

Next up is former Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal’s American Will: The Forgotten Choices That Changed Our Republic. David Tiedemann poses some big questions for the former presidential hopeful (which to be honest he is unlikely to answer… no. 2015).

Then we turn to God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy by another Republican White House wannabe, Mike Huckabee. Roy Rogers discerns, through Huckabee’s frustrations, some useful insights on the state of American conservativism in the age of Donald Trump (no. 2014).

Finally we turn to Ron Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto. Kenneth Owen questions whether the fundamental values this libertarian Republican espouses are closer to those of the Founding Fathers or to Austrian School economists (no. 2013).

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New reviews: US early democracy, medieval merchants, opium trade and Roosevelt

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shaysrebellionWe start this week with Commons Democracy: Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States by Dana Nelson, as Mark Boonshoft and the author discuss a book which offers a coherent paradigm for understanding an important part of the early American democratic tradition (no. 2012, with response here).

Next up is Medieval Merchants and Money: Essays in Honour of James L. Bolton, edited by Matthew Davies and Martin Allen. Chris Dyer recommends a volume which is a tribute to the ingenuity of historians (no. 2011).

Then we turn to Ashley Wright’s Opium and Empire in Southeast Asia: Regulating Consumption in British Burma, which Jim Mills believes to be another significant contribution to the revisionist movement in the history of narcotics in modern Asia (no. 2010).

Finally we have Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945 by Roger Daniels, and Alan Dobson is disappointed by a biography focusing on Roosevelt’s spoken words (no. 2009).

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New reviews: nostalgia, the Young King, the Belle Epoque and the New Deal

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Senate House as the Ministry of Information…

We start this week with The Ministry of Nostalgia by Owen Hatherley, as Charlotte Riley recommends a compelling exploration of one way in which the British political establishment and the British public (mis)interpret, (mis)remember, and (fail to) engage with history (no. 2008).

Next up is Matthew Strickland’s Henry the Young King 1155-1183 by Matthew Strickland. David Crouch praises a book whose study of the Young King is carried off with thoroughness and an enviable mastery of the chronicle and literary sources (no. 2007).

Then we turn to what I am sure the reviewer won’t mind me gently saying is a slightly overdue review (the sequel is already out!) – Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends by Mary Sperling McAuliffe. Charles Sowerwine praises a great read for professional historians and the educated lay reader alike (no. 2006).

Finally we have a review article covering The New Deal: A Global History by Kiran Klaus Patel and Great Exception: The New Deal & The Limits of American Politics by Jefferson Cowie. Gabriel Winant believes that in the distance between these two books, a range of new questions to debate for years ahead emerges (no. 2005).

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New reviews: Russian right, British nukes, John Owen and Eamon de Valera

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urpWe start this week with The Radical Right in Late Imperial Russia: Dreams of a True Fatherland? by George Gilbert, as Geoffrey Hosking and the author discuss a good general guide (no. 2004, with response here).

Next we turn to Jonathan Hogg’s British Nuclear Culture: Official and Unofficial Narratives in the Long 20th Century. Richard Brown recommends the first major contribution to what promises to be a significant sub-field of British nuclear history (no. 2003).

Then we have John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat by Crawford Gribben, as Elliot Vernon praises a fluent biography of a difficult historical figure (no. 2002).

Finally Ronan Fanning’s Eamon de Valera: A Will to Power is reviewed by Brian Girvin, who believes this book sets the bar high for any future assessments of de Valera (no. 2001).

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On An Internship

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This post by IHR Digital intern Jaipreet Deo was originally written for Leicester University Student Blogs.

You might remember that I started an internship a couple of weeks ago. I’d just like to comment on a couple of things.

Bad things that could happen on an internship:

  • Having to get there in rush hour
  • An awful boss who makes you do all their dirty work
  • Ending up having nothing to put on your CV
  • Just making tea all the time

Thankfully, absolutely none of these things happened to me while working for IHR (Institute of Historical Research). I worked hours that fitted around my commute, everybody was lovely, I did a huge range of things, and I actually got brought tea. Which was just as well as I found out that my tiny arms were too weak to lift their massive red teapot with one hand.

The work I did while I was there was varied. I proof read, put things online, wrote abstracts, and ended up doing some work for my dissertation. I also did some company tweeting, which gave me a disproportionate sense of power. So a lot of things to put on the CV then.

Also, it was just a nice place to work. Everybody was lovely, there were always biscuits, I had access to a fantastic library, and there was always somewhere interesting to wander to in my lunch hour.

I’m not saying it was all sunshine and roses. I forgot the codes to the doors a couple of times, and after having about 15 cups of tea a day brought to me I’ve started waking up craving the stuff. Damage has been done.

Genuinely, this is a great experience, which gives you a lot of skills to take home. A couple of interns are taken every year from the pool of History students at Leicester, so I’d definitely recommend applying next year. On a related note, I also wrote a post for them on using one of their online resources, Connected Histories, which was immensely helpful. Stick around if you need a hand finding sources.

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