We kick off this week with John Gaffney’s Leadership and the Labour Party: Narrative and Performance. Christopher Massey believes this book provides vital reading for all interested in Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour Party and the development of political narrative and performance (no. 2196, with response here).
Next up is The Benefits of Peace: Private Peacemaking in Late Medieval Italy by Glenn Kumhera. Alexandra Lee and the author discuss a book which provides a deeper insight into the complicated practices of private peacemaking in medieval Italy (no. 2195, with response here).
Then we turn to Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland, 1920-1940. David Kilgannon praises a book which challenges other historians of 20th-century Ireland to ‘people their pasts’ (no. 2194).
Finally we have The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, edited by Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton. Stephen Spencer recommends a book which adds substantially to our understanding of the sources and the intellectual milieu of their authors (no. 2193).
We begin this week with David Bates’ William the Conqueror. Matthew Bennett and the author debate the extent to which this biography shows sufficient empathy for its subject (no. 2192, with response here).
Next up is Common Writing: Essays on Literary Culture and Public Debate by Stefan Collini. Tim Rogan and the author discuss a collection of pieces which read together for the first time yield a clearer sense of the general preoccupations which unite them (no. 2191, with response here).
Then we turn to Brian Roberts’ Blackface Nation: Race, Reform, and Identity in American Popular Music, 1812-1925. Eran Zelnik highlights the strengths and weaknesses one of the most informative and persuasive recent cultural histories of the 19th century (no. 2190).
Finally we have a response by Amelia Bonea to our previously published review of her book The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India (response to 2149).
We begin this week with Tom Cutterham’s Gentlemen Revolutionaries: Power and Justice in the New American Republic. Lindsay Chervinsky praises a book which offers a complex and active view of the 1780s (no. 2189, with response here).
Next up is From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution: Gender and Family Life in Postwar France by Sarah Fishman. Charlotte Faucher and the author discuss a clear, convincing account of post-war France (no. 2188, with response here).
Then we turn to Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain, edited by Mark Bevir. Alex Middleton thinks this collection represents a missed opportunity given the presence of so many distinguished historians (no. 2187).
Finally we have William Cavert’s The Smoke of London. Elly Robson enjoys a book that opens up new horizons for rich, multifaceted histories of environmental change (no. 2186).
We begin this week with Ronald Hutton’s The Witch: A History of Fear From Ancient Times to the Present. Willem de Blécourt and the author debate – I think it’s fair enough to say that they don’t agree (no. 2185, with response)!
Next up is The Great Cat and Dog Massacre: the Real Story of World War II’s Unknown Tragedy by Hilda Kean. Maggie Andrews and the author discuss a welcome contribution to the ongoing process of chipping away at the pernicious national narrative of the Second World War as a ‘People’s War’ (no. 2184, with response).
Then we turn to Ilya Berkovich’s Motivation in War: The Experience of Common Soldiers in Old-Regime Europe. Joe Cozens enjoys an impressive first monograph from an extremely adept and promising military historian (no. 2183).
Finally we have Commemoration and Oblivion in Royalist Print Culture, 1658-1667 by Erin Peters. Imogen Peck believes it is a testament to the the originality of this book and the liveliness of the field that it succeeds in raising as many questions as it answers (no. 2182).
We begin this week with Into the Heart of Tasmania: A Search for Human Antiquity by Rebe Taylor. Tom Lawson and the author discuss a book which is much more than a straightforward history (no. 2181, with response here).
Next up is Sara Pennell’s The Birth of the English Kitchen, 1600-1850. Rachel Laudan believes this research opens up the possibility of investigating the relationship between changes in the kitchen and the industrial revolution in 18th-century England (no. 2180).
Then we turn to Paying Freedom’s Price: A History of African Americans in the Civil War by Paul D. Escott. Carin Peller-Semmens finds this book fails to paint a historically accurate and suitably complex narrative (no. 2179).
Finally we have Martin Ingram’s Carnal Knowledge: Regulating Sex in England, 1470–1600. Charmian Mansell reviews a book that the reader will find him or herself returning to time and again (no. 2178).
The Institute of Historical Research and the Furniture History Society are delighted to announce that the BIFMO database is now freely available to view online at https://bifmo.data.history.ac.uk.
The initial phase of the project has seen the construction of the BIFMO database comprising information on English furniture makers drawn from the 1986 guide to the trade, the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660 – 1840, as well as from the London Joiners’ Company apprenticeship and freedom records, 1640-1720.
The database will contain detailed biographies of British and Irish furniture makers from the sixteenth century to the present day, providing a rich resource for historians of social, economic, political, art, furniture and material culture, as well as to collectors, connoisseurs and the art market. In addition to extending the chronological dates of the database’s biographical data, our aim is to broaden the contents of BIFMO to visual materials, as well as the reproduction of a wide range of primary sources.
The second phase of the project is undertaking new research to explore key historical questions surrounding the furniture making industry, including a case study on the role of British and Irish women in the nineteenth century: where they lived, their occupational roles, how they sold their wares, and their clientele. In addition, ongoing development to the BIFMO website will introduce new ways of engaging with the data as we enhance the information in the Dictionary with new scholarship published since 1986.
BIFMO is an ongoing project, with separate but integrated research, resource-creation, public engagement and training strands. If you would like more information about the project, or the database, or getting involved, please do get in touch: http://bifmo.data.history.ac.uk/contact
The title reflects the event’s two main aims: to bring together those working on past domesticities (and above all on the experiences of home life); and to focus especially on new and innovative research which explores how the home has been thought about, utilized and lived in. This focus on research and methodological enquiry will, we hope, become an important strand in future IHR events and conferences—in line with the Institute’s standing as a national centre for training in established and emerging forms of historical research.
Over two days in February 2018, ‘New Histories of Living’ will address four interrelated subject areas currently of particular interest to historians of domestic life. Each panel will comprise three papers relating to the principal theme, interconnected and set in context by a specialist convenor. Panels will bring together scholars whose work provides insights both into historical domestic experiences and historians’ approaches to these pasts.
Day One will offer two sessions, beginning with ‘Reconstructions: imagining domestic experience’—a survey of new ways to recreate medieval and early modern interiors, convened by Professor Catherine Richardson from the University of Kent. This will be followed by ‘Rooms’, which—under the guidance of Sonia Solicari, director The Geffrye Museum, London—considers how historians tackle the changing forms and uses of spaces to accommodate family life, from birth to death, and for cooking, cleaning, resting and entertaining. Given our interest in recreating the uses and experience of household artefacts and furnishings, museum designers and curators are an important constituency—as speakers and delegates—at this Winter Conference.
Day Two will begin with the ‘Home-work: reimagining gendered domesticity’ panel (Dr Lynne Walker, IHR), a survey of male and female domestic environments. The fourth panel, ‘Dream homes: alternative futures for residential experience’, is convened by Dr Elizabeth Darling of Oxford Brookes University. This session will consider the history of lives lived in the ‘homes of tomorrow’.
Alongside the themed sessions we have four plenary lectures. These will be delivered by Professor Jane Hamlett of Royal Holloway, University of London, a specialist in nineteenth-century domestic and institutional living; the art historian and BBC presenter Dan Cruickshank; the historian of early modern London, Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck); and the architectural historian Owen Hatherley, whose latest book, Landscapes of Communism, is a history of a political ideal told through its buildings.
In addition to lectures and panels, the Winter Conference will offer ancillary events on the subject of research practice and methods. We also expect to make available new technologies for visualizing the historical home. Digital research tools are an interest shared by several of our panellists, and by IHR staff who’ll demonstrate how to make, and use, 3D images and printed models of household artefacts—as well as virtual reality (VR) recreations of complete interior spaces or structures.
Tickets for ‘Home: New Histories of Living’, the 2018 IHR Winter Conference, are now on sale. A small number of bursaries are available for Masters Students, PhD researchers and ECRs to help with conference fees and travel expenses. For more information on how to apply for this please visit the conference website.
We begin this week with Robert Stein’s Magnanimous Dukes and Rising States: the Unification of the Burgundian Netherlands 1380-1480. Katherine Wilson and the author discuss a huge contribution to the scholarship of the Burgundian Dominions (no. 2177, with response here).
Next up is The Holocaust: A New History by Laurence Rees. Joseph Cronin praises a gripping narrative interspersed with compelling, moving and relatable testimony (no. 2176).
Then we turn to Kathryn Rix’s Parties, Agents and Electoral Culture in England, 1880-1910. Iain Sharpe enjoys a book which manages to break new ground and make a significant contribution to current historiographical debates (no. 2175).
Finally we have Pauper Policies: Poor Law Practice in England 1780-1850 by Samantha Shave. Joseph Harley finds this book largely convincing and well-researched, and believes it to be a strong platform for further research on pauper policies (no. 2174).
The IHR is delighted to announce that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Stage 2 funding of £929,800 for the ‘Layers of London’ project. An additional £600,000 will come from matched funding and other contributions. Thanks to support made possible by National Lottery players, Layers of London, which began in 2016, will build an innovative digital platform to enable the public to create and upload heritage content, linked to digitised historic maps of London from the Romans to the present day. The team will be coordinating a large number of volunteer projects across London, including in schools.
The IHR’s project partners are Birkbeck, University of London, London Metropolitan Archives, the British Library, The National Archives, Historic England and Museum of London Archaeology. The project team, based at the IHR, is led by Professor Matthew Davies of Birkbeck, University of London and the Project Manager is Seif El Rashidi at the IHR. For more information, and to get involved in the project see https://layersoflondon.blogs.sas.ac.uk/
Anyway, we begin this week with Richard McMahon’s The Races of Europe: Construction of National Identities in the Social Sciences, 1839-1939. Ian Stewart and the author debate a valuable contribution to the histories of ideas and science, linking them to the cultural history of national identities (no. 2173, with response here).
Next up is Lincoln, Congress, and Emancipation, edited by Donald R. Kennon and Paul Finkelman. Susan-Mary Grant and the editors discuss a collection largely dedicated to the heroes of America’s national story (no. 2172, with response here).
Then we turn to Jonathan Healey’s The First Century of Welfare: Poverty and Poor Relief in Lancashire, 1620-1730. David Hitchcock recommends an history of poor relief in Lancashire across the 17th and early 18th centuries (no. 2171).
Finally we have Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory by Brent M. Rogers. James Williamson believes any historian seeking to understand debates over sovereignty within antebellum America should consult this work (no. 2170).