Happy New Year!  Welcome to the first edition of 2011’s SPOT Newsletter.  Today we have uploaded 3 podcasts from the Franco-British History seminar held jointly by the IHR and the University of Paris, our first screencast, and podcasts from our recent conference on circulation and congestion in relation to world transport networks.  As always, here is a brief synopsis of what you can find in these new resources. 

The first of the Franco-British History seminars held in December is a discussion of the theoretical and historical analysis of patriarchalism with particular reference to an intellectual biography of Sir Robert Filmer (1588-1653).  Dr Cesare Cuttica discusses Filmer’s attempt to retain the patriarcical idea of politics and kingship in the face of growing (and eventually successful) replacement of it by empirical political approaches.  The opposing viewpoint was advocated particularly by John Locke (1632-1704), who was widely known as the father of Liberalism, and who fought against views of Absolute Monarchy, such as those advocated by Filmer.  

In the second paper offered to the Franco-British History seminar in December, Charles-François Mathis discusses his recently published book, In Nature We Trust: Les paysages anglais à l’ère industrielle (The English Landscape in the Industrial era).  Mathis examines in this book the motivations and ideology of industrialisation and urbanisation between 1750 and 1914.  In particular he is interested in the first movement towards the conservation of nature as a reaction to industry and population migration to city settings.  [Note : This podcast is in French]

Representing our first podcast recorded in 2011, the Franco-British History seminar played host to Neville Kirk, who discussed comparative and transnational social and political labour history through his own relationship to the topic.  Kirk explains the strengths and weaknesses of the study of comparative labour history through his own autobiography.  Starting at Warwick with his MA in comparative studies of Britain and America, Kirk stresses the importance of John D. French (historian of modern Latin America) who brought together as a systematic study supranational processes (industrialisation, demographic change, imperialism etc) and extra-national connections (exchanges, movements of people, exchange of ideas etc).  Moving on to his PhD at Pittsburgh, Kirk changed perspective by focusing on a local study of labour history in the Manchester region post-Chartism.  From there Kirk expanded his interest to comparative histories of Britain, USA, and Australia and for the last 20 years has focused on Nation, Empire, and Race and how these factors interact with questions of class.       


Blocked arteries: circulation and congestion in history

In November and December of last year parts of London came to a standstill due to student protests over tuition fees and funding cuts to Higher Education.  Not long before, London’s commuters had faced several days of difficult travel due to strike action by London’s Underground staff.  A few weeks later access to London again became almost impossible (at least from the Kent side) due to freezing conditions and the inability of the ‘third rail’ to cope with snow and ice.  In addition traffic on the roads mounted up, parts of the transport network became unusable and many people had to abandon their cars altogether.  As the snow descended airports across the country closed and many thousands of air passengers had no choice but to bunk down in airport departure lounges waiting and hoping that a plane would eventually take them to their destinations before Christmas arrived.  These recent events in Britain (and I admit I have given a very London-centric example here), shows just how relevant a conference on transport networks can be.  Congestion and blockages (Blocked Arteries if you will) continue to be a major issue. 


It is therefore for these reasons that a conference examining the history of circulation and congestion is so important.  Not only is the subject highly relevant today but a study of its history, and of the history of responses to congestion, can hopefully help us to develop new responses, and make way to improve the infrastructures that play a role almost daily, in each of our lives. 

We are therefore very pleased to be able to present to you now, a selection of podcasts derived from that conference. 


Back in November we uploaded a podcast from the Voluntary Action History seminar about a Kipling poem entitled The Absent-minded Beggar.  The poem, if you recall, was used by the Daily Mail newspaper as the centre for a fund-raising campaign to help returning soldiers from the South African War.  Dr John Lee very kindly provided us with a copy of the accompanying slide show and agreed to allow us to turn it into a screencast.  A screencast (for those that might not know) is a recording of what is happening on a screen weather that is of a slide show, following the mouse pointer around a screen, or demonstrating software applications (including computer games), and much more.  In this instance, we have synchronized the podcasted audio recording with the copy of the slide show.  This is the first time that we have attempted something like this and we very much hope to bring more of them to you in the future.  Numerous studies have suggested that the combination of slide show with audio has powerful pedagogical benefits.  At the very least I think it helps to clarify and illustrate what Dr John Lee discussed in his paper in a way that neither the audio nor the slide show alone was able to purvey.   


Franco-British History Seminar

2 December 2010

Cesare Cuttica (University of Sussex)

The villain of the history of political thought and a new interpretation of patriarchalism: studying Sir Robert Filmer (1588-1653)


16 December 2010

Charles-François Mathis (Paris 4)

autour de son livre In Nature We Trust, Les paysages anglais à l’ère industrielle (PUPS, 2010)


6 January 2011

Neville Kirk (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Comparative, Transnational and Imperial Labour History: Britain and Australia from the late 19th Century to the Interwar years


VAHS Screencast

22 November 2010

John Lee (University of Bristol)

Following ‘The Absent-minded Beggar’: a case-history of a fund-raising campaign of the South African War


Blocked arteries: circulation and congestion in history

25-26 November 2010

Various speakers