Welcome to this week’s edition of SPOT Newsletter. Before we begin with our summary reviews I would just like to apologise for the late posting of this entry. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the History SPOT project. Hopefully we will be back on track next week with several more podcasts to discuss.Best wishes, Matt IHR Project Officer, History SPOT
Duncan Stone talks about cricket in this week’s Sports and Leisure History seminar. Many studies have been carried out about the differences (both real and imagined) between the north and south of England. Stone takes these regional studies to look at the difference between perceptions and characteristics of regional cricket clubs and in particular their supporters. He uses the case studies of Yorkshire and Sturry cricket clubs to demonstrate the differences. Using, in part, results from a questionnaire to the supporters of both clubs, Stone shows that whilst Yorkshire’s stereotype is accepted both internally and externally, Sturry supporters find it more difficult to identify themselves with a particular characteristic.
Meanwhile, Dhan Singh presents to the Metropolitan History seminar the findings from his PhD thesis. Between the 1880s and 1940s Buenos Aires transformed into a modern metropolis through a process called ‘metropolisation’. With immigration from Europe and emigration from the countryside, the city grew massively over a generation. In parallel to the population growth was the increase in urban amenities including communication networks. Buenos Aires underground railway became a symbol for the city’s vitality and growth. Singh’s study highlights, above all, that a history of the underground railway is more than a study of its technical achievement but a study of the urban society itself. The railway is an important element in the daily movement of people from the periphery to the centre of the city and at the same time its’ study allows us a glimpse of working class life, mobility and perception of itself.
Another paper given this week this time to the British History in the Long 18th Century seminar, compliments Singh’s discussion of Buenos Aires very well. Whilst Singh focused on working class movements, Joanna Innes reflects on the early attempts to improve workers rights in 18th century Britain. In November 1795 Samuel Whitbread (the future owner of Whitbread brewery) petitioned Parliament to pass a bill for a minimum working wage. The bill was later rejected in large part because the Prime Minister of the time, William Pitt, proposed his own alternative bill designed to extend ‘the blessings of progress’ to the poor of Britain. This bill also failed but, as Innes tells us it acted like a ‘straw in the wind’ eventually leading to actual reforms that benefitted the poor. Innes argues that Pitt’s abortive proposal was an unusual initiative in politics of the eighteenth century, but that by looking at the wider context of charity work and local community activities it reflects a growing attempt to reform the manners of individual lives. These attempts to improve society and provide the conditions for cultural change help to explain why Whitbread and Pitt’s abortive bills are important landmarks in British cultural history.
In addition this week we have two papers from the joint University of Paris IV and IHR Franco-British seminar series. The first by David Crouch summarises the historiography of English medieval society stretching from William Stubbs, Frederick Maitland and Frank Stenton to present thoughts and in particular the debates concerning feudalism and bastard feudalism. Crouch argues that English historians all too often still view the English situation as exceptional when anything but was the case. Indeed, Crouch takes a still uncommon approach of comparative studies between English and French medieval society. The second session was given by Géraldine Vaughan who reflects on Irish immigration into Scotland from a local perspective. This paper, given in French, focuses on the period 1851-1918.Franco-British History Seminar 13 January 2011 David Crouch (University of Hull) New research in the English medieval aristocracy Sports and Leisure History Seminar 17 January 2011 Duncan Stone (University of Huddersfield) Regional Cricket Identities: The Construction of Class Narratives and Their Relationship to Contemporary Supporters British History in the Long 18th Century 19 January 2011 Joanna Innes (Somerville College, Oxford) Pitt and the poor laws: government and the politics of social policy in the 1790s Metropolitan History Seminar 19 January 2011 Dhan Singh (CMH/IHR) Under Metropolis: exploring the cultural history of Buenos Aires underground railways (c.1886-1945) Franco-British History Seminar 20 January 2011 Géraldine Vaughan (Université de Rouen) Penser l’immigration irlandaise en Ecosse á partir de l’échelle locale, 1851-1918 Reflection on Irish immigration into Scotland from a local perspective, 1851-1918