This post has kindly been written for us by Dr Matthew Phillpott, SAS-Space Manager and SAS Digital Project Officer.
For 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.
[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]
History Spot has been a much-used and well-liked tool in the two-and-a-half years of its existence and has provided access to training materials and hundreds of podcasts and seminars to thousands of researchers throughout the UK and the world. Now, though, it has outgrown the systems on which it was originally built and we are making some changes which will, we hope, make it easier to find and access the materials which up till now have been available on History Spot.
Everything which was formerly accessible via History Spot has been retained and will continue to be available to researchers, but different types of resource are now to be found in different ways:
1) IHR Podcasts have been merged into the main IHR website at history.ac.uk and can be located and downloaded for free and without registration via the Events menu (under Podcasts: or follow this link: http://www.history.ac.uk/podcasts).
2) Online Research Training Courses can be reached via the Research Training pages on the IHR website (http://www.history.ac.uk/research-training/online). To access chargeable courses an account is still necessary. All the old History Spot accounts have been retained and will function with the new system, but on the first occasion that they are used it will be necessary to reset the password by following the procedure for a forgotten password (to change your password straight away, use this link: http://training.historyspot.org.uk/login/forgot_password.php). All the free and non-chargeable online courses, however, can now be accessed without an account or password by using the Login as a Guest button.
We hope that this will not cause too much disruption and that with the new arrangements even more historians and researchers will be able to use the tools that we provide and that History Spot has helped to popularise.
Abstract: In the early decades of the 20th century the London Underground was transformed from being simply a pioneer urban transit system into becoming the most powerful influence on the metropolitan landscape of any world city. This was entirely due to the vision and planning of one individual: Frank Pick (1878-1941) who became managing director of the Underground in the 1920s and the first chief executive of London Transport in 1933. Pick’s ‘total design’ management, through graphics, architecture, communication systems and the design of the entire passenger environment gave the Underground a unique character that is not found on any other metro. His influence is still felt today, an urban design culture which has shaped London’s chaos more than anyone else since Christopher Wren.
Biography: Oliver Green is currently Research Fellow at the London Transport Museum (LTM) and working as an independent museum consultant, lecturer and historian. He began his museum career at the Museum of London in 1974 and was the first Curator of LTM when it opened in 1980. He left to manage local authority museums and cultural services in Colchester, Poole and Buckinghamshire, returning to LTM as its Head Curator in 2001 and leading the curatorial team working on the major lottery funded refurbishment of the Covent Garden museum, which reopened in 2007. He has written and lectured widely on transport art, design and history. His latest book, authored jointly with David Bownes and Sam Mullins, is UNDERGROUND, How the Tube shaped London, published by Penguin Books in association with Transport for London to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Underground.
Abstract: This paper looks at the history of vision in architectural modernity and its failed acknowledgement of the London Underground. While there have been a number of studies of the architecture of Underground stations, including the interiors of the network – the Underground corridors and station platforms – the specificity of the visual regimes that the Underground establishes has been overlooked.
The paper aims to demonstrate that the establishment of the Underground represents modernity’s unacknowledged conjunction of interiority, mobility and imaging, which locates it at an interesting intersection of well-rehearsed arguments regarding the regimes of vision established in the era of the railways, the visual regimes associated with architectural interiors of modernity, and the regime of moving images that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. In order to do this, I will look at the history of perspective in relation to the architectural interior, as elucidated by Nicholas Temple in Disclosing Horizons; the visual regimes established by the railways earlier in the nineteenth century in the interpretation of Wolfgang Schivelbusch in The Railway Journey; and the conception of mobile imagining in film, offered by Gilles Deleuze in Cinema1 and Cinema 2. The aim is to show that London Underground, as the first underground transportation system of its kind, established a model of mobile architectural imagining that brought together several trajectories of vision, yet remains unacknowledged as such in the histories of modernity.
Biography: Marko Jobst has a DIA from Belgrade University and March, MSc and PhD from The Bartlett, University College London. He is a senior lecturer in Architecture at Greenwich University and has written for The Architects’ Journal on architecture and film. He writes about the London Underground and Gilles Deleuze and is interested in film, philosophy and experimental writing. He also contributes to Mikser in Belgrade.
London Angel Underground station escalators (wikipedia)
Abstract: During the 1920s and 30s, as the Underground network expanded outwards and passenger numbers increased, Tube stations were designed (or redesigned) with a particular emphasis on speeding up and regulating the flow of passengers from the streets onto the trains. The symbolic and spatial centres of these new designs were the automatic escalators, a technology that accorded with the Fordist conveyor belt and which deployed similar logics of individuation, regulated (im)mobility and unthinking, disciplined habit. This paper returns to the early years of the Underground escalator to explore what was at stake within this administrative technology and how it reconfigured the historic relationship between architecture, the Underground environment, and corporeal patterns of movement and attention.
Biography: Richard Hornsey is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and the author of The Spiv and the Architect: Unruly Life in Postwar London (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). He is currently working on a project about the bureaucratisation of movement in interwar London, including an exploration of the administrative choreographies then being built into the Underground. His article ‘Listening to the Tube Map: Rhythm and the Historiography of Urban Map Use’ is coming out in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space in August 2012.
Abstract: When we think of Seamus Heaney we tend to turn to the landscapes of his native Co. Derry, to the anxious negotiations of identity and national affiliation articulated via his poetry, to his attempts to situate the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ within a mythological continuum that stretches back to Iron Age times. While it is true that the ‘matter’ of Ireland has remained at or near the centre of his poetry for over forty years, other locations have in fact figured prominently and persistently in his work. One of these locations is London; more specifically, the London Underground. In some respects it is not surprising that the Underground has featured in the work of a poet who has constantly been drawn to what lies beneath the visible ground, has been drawn to the land as a repository of objects, histories, and cultural memories. Heaney is also a poet who has regularly sensed analogies between contemporary local concerns and universal patterns – most obviously in his frequent recourse to classical myth.
It is the argument of this paper that Heaney’s poems of the Underground extend these propensities to look down into land and to draw upon myth. But more importantly I argue that the poems, especially ‘District and Circle’ published in the immediate aftermath of the July 2005 attacks on the London Transport system, forge what I term a poetics of tube travel fully cognizant of the protocols, the anxieties, and the understated but definably present sense of commonality (in fact, an ethics of travel) foregrounded in the era of perceived terrorist threat and counter-terrorist measures. In staging an absolutely quotidian journey on the Underground, Heaney invokes a tremendously vivid range of memories, sensations, histories, and mythological echoes, to reveal what is at stake in any journey by tube beneath the capital. Heaney’s ‘actual’ journey on the District and Circle lines are inevitably coloured by the innumerable journeys his poems and translation have made featured as they have been (several times in fact) on the Poems on the Underground posters. This sense of literary circulation as complement to his actual journeying is something I will also consider in this paper.
Biography: Tom Herron is lecturer in English and Irish Literature at Leeds Metropolitan University. Author of After Bloody Sunday: representation, ethic, justice (Cork UP, 2007) and editor of Harrowing of the Heart: the poetry of Bloody Sunday (Guildhall Press, 2008) and the new edition of Louis MacNeice’s I Crossed the Minch (Polygon, 2007), he has recently completed an edited collection of critical essays for Bloomsbury entitled Irish Writing London (2012). He has written numerous articles on Irish literature and culture and is currently working on a monograph exploring the place of poetry within the public sphere.
Abstract: Historians have noted that the republic depicted in Harrington’s ‘Oceana’ (1656) allowed little room for political debate beyond the confines of the senate. However, ‘Oceana’ did permit the localities to petition Parliament, allowing some channel for the expression of the popular voice, albeit in a form framed by the phylarchs, ‘the princes of the Tribes’. The Harringtonian circle itself engaged in petitioning activity in 1659, as the restoration of the Rump Parliament in May 1659 revived hopes of a new republican constitution. These political interventions were part of a wider petitioning campaign by the ‘well-affected’ in support of a republican settlement. Ruth Mayers, in her work on the revived English Commonwealth, has argued that these petitions provide evidence of popular support for the republic. However, Harrington’s own view of the value of this petitioning activity, as expressed in Valerius and Publicola (1659) was much more pessimistic, seeing the exercise as essentially fruitless.
Harrington’s disappointment was understandable: the petitioning activity of 1659 bore little resemblance to the orderly scheme of political communication from periphery to centre mapped in ‘Oceana’. The cliques of the ‘well-affected’ who submitted supportive petitions represented both a far more exclusive political constituency than the Harringtonians had hoped would be involved in settling a new Commonwealth, and a far more varied cross-section of the political nation than the ‘natural aristocracy’ that Harrington believed alone had the right to ‘debate’. Moreover, this petitioning activity was arguably orchestrated by the Rump and its propagandists rather than representing grassroots support for the Commonwealth. Nonetheless, this paper will suggest that the use of petitioning in 1659 to legitimate both the government and its programme set an important precedent that was followed by the Crown into the Restoration era.
Abstract: The East India Company at Home, Domestic Interiors, Public Histories & Material Cultures’ discusses the context and preliminary findings of a 3-year collaborative research project based in the History Department at University College London. In recent decades, the Georgian country house has featured in films, television, tourism and history as an icon of ‘Englishness’ (and, to a lesser extent, of Scottish, Welsh and British identities). This project contrasts this narrowly national representation of the Georgian country house to the increasingly ‘global’ forces that shaped country house construction, purchasing and furnishing in the Georgian era. Its focus is on both ‘Oriental’ luxury objects and the significance of the country home and its furnishings for the families of the English East India Company. How did the aspiration for an ‘English’ home sustain Company men’s participation in colonialism in India? How (and why) were Indian fortunes domesticated through the purchase of country houses in Britain? What role did Chinese, Indian and Japanese luxuries play in building effective country houses? Addressing these issues has involved the East India Company at Home team in new forms of collaboration, new forms of public history, aimed at illuminating the global underpinnings of British national identities.
Charles de Valois, engraving by Pierre Daret (1610-1657)
Rethinking Historical Research in the Digital Age: A TEI Approach, Camille Desenclos (ENC, Sorbonne) Digital History seminar (9 October 2012)
Abstract: Historical research cannot be conceived without a close relation to physical text: paper is still the main source. However the emergence and subsequent multiplication of digital technologies within the historical field have tended to modify the examination of sources. This change is particularly apparent for text editions: how is one to manage the transfer from the manuscript age to a digital one? Can sources be understood and analysed without physical support?
This paper will be based on experiences of using electronic editions of early modern texts, specifically diplomatic correspondences such as L’ambassade extraordinaire du duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux vers les princes et potentats de l’Empire. TEI, a XML-based language, has been chosen for those editions. Using such a structured language – a far cry from the plain text created by classical text editors – implies changing the conception of what an edition is. We need not just think about texts anymore but only about the historical information contained within the text and which has to be highlighted in terms of the research. This requires researchers to think more about what they want and what they want to show in their studies. Above all, it allows researchers to track specific features such as diplomatic formulas and then to facilitate their analysis.
The aim of this talk is to ask if and how digital technologies have changed how historians view sources and even if they have changed the historical studies themselves; how TEI can be used to create new kind of editions. This paper will try to show how, if well used, TEI and digital technologies highlight and add to the results of historical studies.
Biography: Camille Desenclos is currently completing her PhD at the École nationale des Chartes where she is also engaged in leading several projects to create electronic editions of medieval and early modern texts including an edition of the correspondance of Antoine du Bourg. Her PhD is entitled ‘The Communication Policy of France in the Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the Thirty Years War (1617-1624)’. A fundamental part of her PhD research includes creating electronic editions and the encoding and ciphering of diplomatic correspondence and structures in related medieval charters. Camille has given numerous conference papers largely concentrating on the Text Encoding Initiative and its application to her research. She was also a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s last year. An electronic edition of the ‘Ambassade extraordinaire des duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux’ which she has written will be available online shortly.
Abstract: This lecture sought to define the nature of eighteenth century British politics and to explain the context into which it should be placed. There can be little question that traditional accounts have usually defined politics in much too restricted a manner. In the later decades of the twentieth century the sceptical approach to politics of Sir Lewis Namier and his school (inspired by the philosophy of Logical Atomism) was challenged by the optimistic ideology of Professor Sir Herbert Butterfield (inspired by Christian rationalism). For several decades eighteenth century British politics was dominated by this conflict, frequently focused on the status of political parties. To all intents and purposes, this discussion no longer attracts the attention it once did. But what, in the end, was eighteenth century politics about? What was it for? What did it consist of and how may it be defined? This presentation will hope to elicit discussion and ideas on this much neglected topic.