All manner of excitement last week at the IHR, with the prestigious Gerald Aylmer Seminar receiving a number of uninvited guests, as student protestors were diverted from their occupation of the Vice-Chancellor’s offices by the lure of the post-seminar sandwiches. The stern intervention of our events officer saw them off, but I think there’s a lesson here for any university seeking to deal with unwelcome demonstrations – no matter how righteous the cause, students will always prioritise free food…
Back to more serious matters, and this week’s reviews. We begin with Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg, which Christopher Smith believes represents a scholarly feat few writers could hope to match, engagingly tracking the history of how influential thinkers negatively interpreted Judaism to better understand their own religions and society (no. 1558).
Then we turn to Annette Aubert’s The German Roots of Nineteenth-Century American Theology. Daniel Ritchie and the author discuss a work which should be eagerly read by all modern religious historians with an interest in the development of Reformed theology in the United States (no. 1557, with response here).
Next up is Sovereignty Transformed: U.S.-Habsburg Relations from 1815 to the Paris Peace Conference by Nicole M. Phelps, found by Stephen Tuffnell to be a highly calibrated examination worthy of a place on the shelves of European and American historians alike (no. 1556).
Finally Peter Gurney reviews Hard Sell: Advertising, Affluence and Transatlantic Relations, c1951-69 by Sean Nixon. His view is that despite its valuable insights in the end this book, like many of the commodities it considers, promises more than it delivers (no. 1555).
Over the past year we have been running a monthly British History Online photo competition. All those photos added to our Flickr group in the previous month have been entered into a pool and scrutinised by my judicious and sharp-eyed colleagues in IHR Digital. I then aggregated all the votes to produce a shortlist, which was then further voted upon by British History Online’s academic advisory group.
This month we had two runners-up, in no particular order. One was Fountains Abbey by a veteran of the photo competition, Bill Tennent, the frantic-photographer:
This kind of geometrical, receding composition is a tricky one for any photographer and Bill has done a great job of giving us a sense of depth and space while keeping everything in balance. I also like the somewhat eerie bright green walls and column bases.
Almost everything we can see in this photograph is, or appears to be, stone – except that out-of-place window, with the light streaming through. Particularly evocative are the empty coffins, perhaps brought from elsewhere, their contents presumably scattered or reburied.
who knows the fate of his bones, or how often he is to be buried? Who hath the oracle of his ashes, or whither they are to be scattered?
Thomas Browne, Hydrotaphia, Urn Burial
The prize is that the winning photo has the glory of appearing on our British History Online homepage for a month. Our last winner, now in that prestigious position, is The Paris House at Woburn, by Jason Ballard:
The Paris House, although clearly in the English style, was built in Paris for an international exhibition on architecture held in 1878. It was designed by Gilbert Redgrave and was actually prefabricated and constructed on the site – although it is a bit more elegant than the prefabricated classrooms of my school days. It now stands in Woburn Park, and Jason has caught the character of the house and its surroundings beautifully, including the quintessentially English greens of a country that receives a healthy amount of rainfall.
It is appropriate (although entirely coincidental) that the house stands on the Duke of Bedford’s estate, because he liked it so much he had it shipped to England. The Institute of Historical Research (and the entire central University of London) also stands on estates owned by the dukes of Bedford. Most of the roads around our offices are named after members of the family: Russell Square, Woburn Place, Malet Street, Bedford Square…
We’ve very much enjoyed judging the photo competition over the past year, and we’d like to thank everyone who contributed photos to the group. Anyone is welcome to continue adding to the Flickr group, if they’d like to.
With each week seeing a new series of claims and counter-claims about the viability of an independent Scotland, now seems an appropriate time for us to review a new book by Michael Fry, a self-declared former Scottish Conservative now supporting the nationalist position. Ian Donnachie believes A New Race of Men: Scotland 1815-1914 is in the tradition of scholarly, thoughtful, popular history and seems likely to command a wide audience (no. 1552).
Elsewhere, Eloise Moss and Lucy Bland discuss Modern Women on Trial: Sexual Transgression in the Age of the Flapper which shows how the historiography on women’s sexuality in inter-war Britain has progressed during the last two decades (no. 1554, with response here).
Then we turn to Crossings: Africa, the Americas and the Atlantic Slave Trade by James Walvin, which Matthew Mitchell finds a highly coherent account that nevertheless manages to convey a satisfyingly complex view of its subject (no. 1553).
Finally Estelle Paranque thinks that the strength of The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor by Charles Beem and Dennis Moore is that it highlights and encapsulates the concerns and hopes that represented the power of a queen during the early modern period (no. 1551).
The library, Trinity College Dublin. Eighteenth-century watercolour by James Malton
An update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 26 February. Over 4,000 new records have been added; over half of these are for publications of 2013-14. Some 700 new records relate to Irish history while 186 deal with the history of London.
We are pleased to welcome a new section editor to our team, Dr Elaine Murphy of Plymouth University, who will handle material on Irish history, 1640-1800. We now have three editors helping us to deal with Irish history; Dr Beth Hartland (Ireland before 1640) and Dr Marie Coleman (Ireland since 1800) complete our Irish history team.
There have also been some improvements to the metrics; we continue to welcome your feedback on these.
We expect to release the next update in June. You can always find out more about the Bibliography at http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/bbih or, if you already have access to the Bibliography, you can sign up for email alerts so as to be notified each time the Bibliography is updated with records on a subject or subjects of your choice.
To see what academics are researching and writing about today, I’ve noted a few First World War articles that interested me and I hope interest readers.
The first article begins at the beginning, or a few weeks before, with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Adam James Bones in, British National Dailies and the Outbreak of War in 19141, explores the press and their portrayal of how Britain entered the conflict from the reaction to the Archduke’s assassination (sympathetic); the impact of foreign embassies on press reporting (especially from the Germans and Austrians); and the reporting, reactions and forecasts of the outcome of the Austrian Ultimatum. He also examines the link between politicians and the press, especially between Grey and the Fleet Street editors.
For all Britain’s reputation as an animal-loving nation, the next article, The Dog Fancy at War: Breeds, Breeding, and Britishness, 1914-1918 2 by Philip Howell, may cause pause for thought. He discusses the impact of the war and the popularity (or loss of popularity) for some dog breeds such as the dachshund. Even the dog breeder was seen as unpatriotic – dog breeding was seen as a luxury and as a waste of food.
“Next day the German sausage was re-named breakfast sausage, which it has been called ever since, and the Frankenfurters disappeared. They thought all Germans should be pushed out of this country, good and bad alike. A woman who went out leading a little dachshund, had it stoned to death on the pavement, for there was no stemming this ugly tide of racial hatred to which the sinking of the Lusitania had given rise.” 3
On a lighter note and still away from the trenches, Krista Cowman looks at the entertainments for the off-duty soldier in, Touring behind the lines: British soldiers in French towns and cities during the Great War 4. She makes the point that, for many, the war was also the first occasion a soldier visited a foreign country. Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs, she considers how men responded to the new experiences they found in French towns, exploring everyday and mundane activities such as shopping, dining, cinema and theatre and of course the inevitable visit to a prostitute.
Continuing the entertainment theme, More than a Luxury: Australian Soldiers as Entertainers and Audiences in the First World War 5 by Amanda Laugesen discusses the crucial importance of live entertainment to soldiers on the Western Front - ‘something more than a luxury—they are a necessity’ as an Australian trench newspaper asserted. It also examines entertainment and audience experiences in order to reveal something about soldiers’ interaction with popular culture, as well as the trench culture shared by soldiers.
Continuing the veterans theme there is Michael Hammond’s, War Relic and Forgotten Man: Richard Barthelmess as Celluloid Veteran in Hollywood 1922-1933 8 which explores the role of popular Hollywood film culture in the construction and commemoration of the war using the films of actor Barthelmess. In The Enchanted Cottage (1924) he plays a disfigured veteran who finds love, and in Heroes for Sale (1933), set during the Depression, he portrays a recovering addict veteran struggling in civilian life.
1 The International History Review. 35: 5, 2013 p. 975-92
2 Society & Animals, Volume 21: 6, 2013 p. 546 – 567
3 Bloom, Ursula. Youth at the gate. 1959 p. 95
4 Urban History, 41, 2013 p. 105-123.
5 Journal of War & Culture Studies 6:3, 2013 p. 226-38
6 Journal of Social History 47:2, 2013 p. 263-296
7 First World War Studies 4:2, 2013 p. 201-17
8 Journal of War and culture studies 6:4, 2013 p. 283-301
Bookwheel from Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino Ramelli (1588)
The International Bibliography of Humanism and the Renaissance (IBHR), formerly published by Librairie Droz as Bibliographie Internationale de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance, has been working since 1965 to identify all publications relating to humanism and the Renaissance, interpreted in a broad sense, in terms of both content and chronology. The bibliography will henceforth be published by Brepols, who already publish the International Medieval Bibliography and the Bibliography of British and Irish History (the latter a joint project with the Royal Historical Society and IHR Digital).
In the course of this year the IBHR will undergo major changes and will be relaunched on Brepols’ online platform, Brepolis. Its new search interface will be similar to the one used across all Brepols bibliographic databases and will therefore benefit from the advanced search technologies embedded in them. New features will include linking with online full text where available, and the export of bibliographic references using a variety of software packages (EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero).
In conjunction with these developments, IBHR is seeking support from scholars in relevant fields with a view to extending the coverage provided by the bibliography. The editors are looking for contributors who will identify and index monographs and articles in both journals and books, following a standard citation format, and assigning appropriate keywords, using the IBHR online input platform. Contributors will be remunerated according to the number of complete items submitted.
Contributors should possess:
Access to a research library with strong holdings in European history of the 16th-17th centuries.
A Master’s or doctoral degree in early modern European history or a related subject.
Fluency in English, French, German, Spanish, or Italian. Passive knowledge of other European
languages will be considered an asset.
Ability and commitment to deliver one hundred citations each year, or more.
If you are interested in becoming a contributor, the publishers would like to hear from you. Enquiries should be made to Chris VandenBorre, Publishing Manager.
Your deputy editor has returned this week from an ill-fated long weekend in Dorset, where apocalyptic weather conditions turned the drive from London into an eight-hour odyssey, and filled (we saw at least two) the fields with dead cows. And I didn’t get my promised Dorset Knobs and Vinney…
Still, my suffering pales into comparison with that endured by the subjects of our featured book, Banishment in the Early Atlantic World: Convicts, Rebels and Slaves, by Gwenda Morgan, Peter Rushton. Aaron Fogleman and the authors discuss a book full of highlights, and which raises a number of valuable questions for future study (no. 1550, with response here).
Next up, we have Simon Potter’s Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World, 1922-1970, as Brett Bebber reviews a staggering achievement, worthy of attention by scholars of popular culture and British imperialism, in addition to those interested in the business of radio and television (no. 1549).
Then we turn to China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter. For Aaron Moore, this book provides a powerful, readable, and accessible account of the conflict in China (no. 1548).
Finally Julia McClure believes that Global Intellectual History (edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori) contributes to the development of global history by deepening our awareness of the politics, epistemologies, and pluralities of global concepts (no. 1547).
A real treat for medievalists this week, as eminent academics Pete Biller and R. I. Moore engage in a full and frank discussion of the latter’s The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe – a must-read! (no. 1546, with response here).
Next up, we have Revisionist Histories by Marnie Hughes-Warrington, which Jamie Melrose believes contains a wealth of examples of history’s plasticity, without outlining any means to establish the rules of these morphing games (no. 1545, with response here).
Then we turn to David Kynaston’s Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-1959. Malin Dahlstrom thinks that while readable, this volume fails to justify the author’s claim that the period in question marked a turning point in post-war British history (no. 1544).
Finally Ian Miller praises a meticulously researched, well-written and thoughtfully crafted account of infanticide in late 19th-century Ireland, as he reviews ‘A most diabolical deed’: Infanticide and Irish society, 1850–1900 by Elaine Farrell (no. 1543).
We are delighted to have been awarded AHRC funding for a new research project, ‘Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities‘. BUDDAH aims to transform the way in which researchers in the arts and humanities engage with the archived web, focusing on data derived from the UK web domain crawl for the period 1996-2013. Web archives are an increasingly important resource for arts and humanities researchers, yet we have neither the expertise nor the tools to use them effectively. Both the data itself, totalling approximately 65 terabytes and constituting many billions of words, and the process of collection are poorly understood, and it is possible only to draw the broadest of conclusions from current analytical analysis.
A key objective of the project will be to develop a theoretical and methodological framework within which to study this data, which will be applicable to the much larger on-going UK domain crawl, as well as in other national contexts. Researchers will work with developers at the British Library to co-produce tools which will support their requirements, testing different methods and approaches. In addition, a major study of the history of UK web space from 1996 to 2013 will be complemented by a series of small research projects from a range of disciplines, for example contemporary history, literature, gender studies and material culture.
I got an email this morning from one of the readers of British History Online. It was from a 90-year-old lady in South Africa who expressed her delight at being able to read about her childhood home in Surrey. She had wanted to express her gratitude for having a resource like British History Online that evoked memories from the better part of a lifetime ago, from thousands of miles away.
This email was the first piece of feedback from a reader I’d received since taking over a few weeks ago as the new Project Manager. I’d like to think it will all be that easy – perusing nice letters from satisfied users of our collection. But I’ve learned quickly that there’s plenty of work to be done.
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Adam Crymble. Like many of you, I fancy myself a bit of a historian, be that amateur or professional. I’ve done some traditional historical work, both as a family history researcher and in an academic setting teaching Early Modern British history at King’s College London (where I did my PhD in 18th century British history). And I’ve also had a fair bit of experience building websites over the years. I’m hoping to combine those interests to continue to bring a great and expanding set of resources to you that you can trust, via the British History Online website.
Stepping into a project that’s been running for more than a decade can be a bit daunting. There’s already so much content here that I need to get my head around. So many great ideas that have already been implemented. But there’s also places we can grow. The big task for this year is to help the rest of the team put together a new website to hold our content. The web has changed a lot in the last few years, and we’re excited about the possibilities of making the website even easier to use and make the content even easier to find.
We’re also excited about a number of new partnerships we’re pursing that we hope will bring even more great historical resources to the web for the first time. I’d like to invite you to get in on the ground floor of that initiative by supporting our collection’s growth, either by subscribing to the site’s premium content (£30) or by making a donation to our digitisation fund.
2014 promises to be a great year for British History Online. I’m pleased to be a part of it, and I’m looking forward to working with you as we build the best collection of British History on the web.