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New reviews: Slavery, Morocco, Carolingian Empire and Roosevelts

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We start this week with Emily West’s Enslaved Women in America: From Colonial Times to Emancipation. Kristen Brill recommends a book which masterfully presents the narrative of women’s lived experiences in slavery through the prism of gender (no. 2155, with response here).

Next up is The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam by Edmund Burke. July Blalack believes this story of the French colonial archive reveals many disturbing aspects of knowledge production (no. 2154).

Then we turn to Matthew Brian Gillis’s Heresy and Dissent in the Carolingian Empire: the Case of Gottschalk of Orbais. Scott Ashley gives thanks for an important study for scholars of the Carolingian world and of early-medieval religious culture (no. 2153).

Finally we have Wars of the Roosevelts: The Ruthless Rise of America’s Greatest Political Family by William J. Mann. Dario Fazzi praises an impressive 600-page volume scoping out the secrets, antagonisms, and feuds of the Roosevelts (no. 2152).

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The Anglo-Saxon era and the wider world

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There has been much interest lately on the diversity of cultures in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon world, with many academics keen to promote research that highlights the positive interaction between communities, rather than existing as single homogenized societies. The Bibliography of British and Irish History can provide a useful platform for publication analysis, and give a general overview of trends and patterns on hot topics such as this. Taking the Anglo-Saxon period as a starting point, a search on the Bibliography of the period 450-1066 and the search term ‘other countries’ returns 1467 results, and by drilling down into publishing figures from 1970 to the present, it is clear that much more attention is currently being paid to Anglo-Saxon links with the rest of the world. There are only 250 resources published pre-1970, but statistical analysis after that time reveals the following results:

 

 

As the graph shows, there has been a steady increase in research, and an sharp rise in the mid 1990s, until the turn of the millenium when it plateaus at about the 235 mark. This may be due to the Bibliography becoming much more efficient in its indexing from 1992 onwards, and however encouraging these results, they do need to be assessed against the general rise in publications, which gives a more balanced view:

 

 

However, the percentage of resources published does show a steady increase, with figures doubling from the 1970s (at five per cent) to over ten per cent since 2000, showing that it is an area growing in interest. A map of the spread of resources further highlights how far-reaching the interactions were in the Insular world.

 

Click on images for more detail

These data visualizations show publication information, but looking at individual titles on the Bibliography is also vital to establishing the body of research out there.

Although physical geography may separate Britain and Ireland from other countries, it has never been left to develop in splendid isolation. All-important trade-routes and the growth of Christianity ensured that the Insular world had plenty of interaction with the Continent, and much further afield. Bede was keen to align the British Isles with the Roman Church (as opposed to the Insular Church), believing in a universal Catholicism, uniting all four corners of the known world. Despite never leaving Monkwearmouth-Jarrow, a constant stream of religious texts from the continent informed his global view, as Conor O’Brien’s book Bede’s Temple discusses. Never are these influences more apparent than in the Lindisfarne Gospels, the pinnacle of Anglo-Saxon culture. In her book chapter ‘The Cross and the book: the cross-carpet pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels as sacred figurae’, in Cross and Cruciform in the Anglo-Saxon World, Michelle Brown discusses the many influences that fed into the manuscript images, including the resemblance the carpet pages bear to eastern Mediterranean prayer mats, which may have been used in Britain in the early eighth century to pray towards the east, highlighting the blending of eastern and western cultures. She analyses the crosses embedded in the carpet pages, and suggests that each cross represents the concept of a universal church – St Matthew a Latin cross, St Mark a Celtic cross, St Luke a Greek cross, and St John a Greek-style cross that was popular in Coptic Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia.

Carpet page for St John (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 210v)

Carpet page for St Matthew (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D IV, fol. 26v)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Codex Amiatinus, a magnificent copy of the Vulgate bible produced at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow that went missing on its journey to Rome, also indicates just how closely Christian England had aligned itself with Rome – the reason it remained undiscovered for so long was because it was assumed to be Italian, so completely had it emulated the Roman style. In his book chapter ‘Amiatinus in Italy: the afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon book’, in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent, Marsden explores the extraordinary journey of this manuscript. ‘Who introduced charters into England? The case for Theodore and Hadrian’ in Textus Roffensis: Law, Language, and Libraries in Early Medieval England is also a reminder that Theodore of Tarsus (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his companion Hadrian (Abbot of St Augustine’s, Canterbury) from north Africa were received very favourably as church leaders in England in the seventh century.

Leoba, correspondent of Boniface, was spiritual advisor to Hildegard, Charlemagne’s wife and following Boniface’s example, set up a monastery in Tauberbischofsheim, leading to further intellectual links between England and the Continent, as Lifschitz has discussed in Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia: a Study of Manuscript Transmission and Monastic Culture. ‘Alcuin, Rome, and Charlemagne’s imperial coronation’, a chapter in England and Rome in the Early Middle Ages: Pilgrimage, Art, and Politics further explores the blending of cultural relations. Pilgrimage was popular among Anglo-Saxon Christians, with both men and women travelling to Rome and Jerusalem, as can be witnessed from names carved into the catacombs at Rome (see previous blog post), or from Willibald’s spiritual journey to Jerusalem, written down by his sister Hugeberg in Vita Willibaldi and analysed in ‘Images of Jerusalem: the religious imagination of Willibald of Eichstatt’, also in Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent.

Byzantine solidus coin with bust of Leo I (457-474 AD)                   Image: Wikipedia

Trade was another major source for cultural interaction, and although the tin reserves in the south-west of England were much more heavily mined in the Roman era, there is evidence to suggest that it retained its trade links with the Mediterranean, as discussed in the book chapter ‘Early tin extraction in the south-west of England: a resource for Mediterranean metalworkers of late antiquity’ in Byzantine Trade, 4-12th Centuries. Another book chapter ‘Byzantine coins in early medieval Britain: a Byzantine’s assessment’ in Early Medieval Monetary History provides further links between the two worlds, as does ‘Britain and China at opposite ends of the world?: archaeological methodology and long-distance contacts in the sixth century’ from Incipient Globalization?: Long-Distance Contacts in the Sixth Century, which highlights the coinage found in eastern England in Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, and indicates the range of trade links from Byzantium. ‘Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region’ in the Journal of Archaeological Science also highlights the fact that it wasn’t just material objects, but people, who were relocating to the British Isles. See also the blog posts of Dr Caitlin Green, for excellent visualisations on early medieval trade routes.

Although the close connections between the Vikings and Britain and Ireland have been well-documented, a fascinating book chapter titled ‘Viking-age queens and the formation of identity’ in The Viking Age: Ireland and the West discusses the portrayals of Eadgyth, Gormlaith and Auðr and their regal roles. The ‘marrying-in’ to different cultures may suggest a keenness (or an unwillingness) to be politically allied, and the subsequent portrayals of these women symbolized the links being forged between English, Irish and Scandinavian cultures. Aquitaine and Ireland in the Middle Ages also offers interesting evidence of cultural and commercial links between Ireland and the south-west of France, who could use the Atlantic Ocean to bypass mainland Britain. ‘Innse Gall: culture and environment on a Norse frontier in the Scottish Western Isles’ in The Norwegian Domination and the Norse World, c.1100-c.1400 also highlights the blurred boundaries between the British and Scandinavian world, and how those links persisted well after the Anglo-Saxon era.

 

Anglo-Saxon map of the world (London, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius B V/1, fol. 56v)

 

For resources covering areas beyond Europe and Byzantium, a book chapter called ‘Architecture and epigraphic evidence for Christian Celts in Connecticut, c. 500-700 A.D.’ in Atlantic Visions presents archaeological evidence for a drainage system that may signify occupation by settlers from Ireland or the Hebrides, strengthened by the presence of preserved inscriptions of the Chi-Rho symbol and Ogham script. An article titled ‘The figure of the Ethiopian in Old English texts’ in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, which although it offers both positive and negative aspects, highlights how places as far as eastern Africa were present in the Anglo-Saxon mind.

The Bibliography of the British and Irish History is an extremely useful tool for exploring both qualitive and quantitive results in history publications, in this case to explore the wider boundaries of the Anglo-Saxon period in Britain and Ireland.

 

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Reviews in History as a research aid for A-Level students and undergraduates

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This post has kindly been written for us by IHR Digital intern Tom Keidan.

I’m an undergraduate currently interning with the IHR Digital department, and as part of this I have been working on the online journal Reviews in History. This is a resource that I’ve used in the past, and the editor suggested that it might be interesting for other A-level and university students to hear how I’ve found it useful in my studies.

This was certainly the case during my A-Level studies, when Reviews in History proved to be an invaluable research tool, effectively and concisely summarising secondary material for a wider non-specialist audience.

When studying historiographical debates surrounding the Holocaust during both my A-Level and university studies, in-depth reviews of monographs such as Tom Lawson’s Debates on the Holocaust (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1160) and Dan Stone’s Histories of the Holocaust (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1068) proved invaluable in summarising wider concepts and debates which I was initially unable to fully grasp. Furthermore, the comprehensive bibliography provided at the end of each review enabled me to further research alternative studies which helped to develop my specialist knowledge of such a vast topic.

During my university studies, the reviews on Reviews in History have continuously proved to be highly useful in providing me with wider background material; in addition, being able to filter searches according to geographical area and period has allowed me to effectively and quickly gather reviews for material relevant to modules which cover a specific period and place.

Furthermore, Reviews in History includes reviews of various primary archival material which have been extremely useful when embarking on my dissertation research; by filtering by categories such as films, exhibitions and digital resources, the reader is able to easily and effectively look through relevant primary material reviews in order to supplement previous secondary reading. In particular, a review of the British Library’s Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1489) exhibition provided insight into the nature of state propaganda which proved highly useful in supplementing my existing university knowledge.

Ultimately, Reviews in History seems to me to be a highly useful tool for both general audiences as well as more specialist historians. I highly recommend this website whether you are looking for help with A-Level history studies or more complex university level material!

 

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Latest reviews – shell shock, world’s fairs, Indian journalism and Europe’s India

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We start this week with Stefanie Linden’s They Called it Shell Shock. Combat Stress in the First World War. Michael Robinson and the author discuss a book of great interest to shell shock historians, specialists in trauma studies, and those interested in the social and cultural effects of the First World War (no. 2151, with response here).

Next up is Adam Matthew’s World’s Fairs: A Global History of Exhibitions. Anthony Swift profiles a valuable digital resource for those interested in the history of design, technology, architecture, imperialism, nationalism, gender, anthropology, consumer culture and more (no. 2150).

Then we turn to Amelia Bonea’s The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India. Anindita Ghosh praises a rich and informative book that opens out the way for further and interesting research into telegraphy and journalism (no. 2149).

Finally we have Europe’s India – Words, People, Empires, 1500-1800 by Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Tiraana Bains believes this book weaves together engaging narratives of early modern itinerancy and encounter with incisive criticism of existing historiographical grand narratives (no. 2148).

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The king of King’s Cross

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The past decade has seen the rise of a vast property development in the King’s Cross district of central London. As its residential zone nears completion, Dr Philip Carter considers the life of Henry Croft – founder of the Pearly Kings, and a late-Victorian resident of King’s Cross – who features in the development’s marketing campaign. Recreating Henry’s life story owes much to a growing range of digitised resources now shaping microhistorical and prosopographical approaches to the past.

Step out of Senate House in Bloomsbury and you quickly encounter some exclusive real estate. Bedford, Russell, Gordon and Tavistock squares were among the most prestigious property developments of the late-18th and early 19th centuries, and their elegant terraces remain highly desirable. Keep walking from Tavistock Square and you come across their 21st-century equivalent, just north of King’s Cross station.

Read the full post on the School of Advanced Studies’ Talking Humanities blog.

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Latest from Reviews in History – slavery, C19 America, Ancient Greece and factory fire

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We start this week with Alice Rio’s Slavery After Rome, 500-1100. Shami Ghosh and the author discuss one of the central questions in the historiography of early medieval Western Europe: how did the transition from slavery to serfdom take place? (no. 2147, with response here)

Next up is Divided Sovereignties: Race, Nationhood, and Citizenship in Nineteenth-Century America by Rochelle Zuck. Nathan Cardon enjoys a book which puts politics and nation-making back into the conversation on 19th-century race and identity (no. 2146).

Then we turn to Johana Hannink’s The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity. Helen Roche praises a triumph of popularisation which should provide a fruitful starting-point for more detailed surveys (no. 2145).

Finally we have See You In The Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire by Ruth Sergel. Chloe Ward reviews a book which recounts the author’s attempts to commemorate the fire through a series of interlinked art projects-cum-social interventions (no. 2144).

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Baseball…it’s just not cricket: baseball and British and Irish history

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Baseball and British history – not, you think, a natural pairing. It’s then surprising to learn that there are enough references to baseball in BBIH to warrant a blog.

A woodcut from “A Little Pretty Pocket-Book” (1744) England, showing a reference to baseball

There is little on the development of the sport, unlike the lengthy discussions available on the development of football (the association not the American kind).

Highlights from the collection include the nationalistic and sneering response to the game, such as “That’s your way of playing rounders, isn’t it”? The response of the English press to American baseball tours to England, 1874-1924”. The sporting coverage is also explored in Embracing sporting news in England and America: nineteenth-century cricket and baseball news (a chapter in Anglo-American media interactions, 1850-2000).

There is some material on London including Baseball in East London before the war, British baseball and the West Ham club: history of a 1930s professional team in East London and A very peculiar practice: the London Baseball League, 1906-1911.

Picking up on imperial themes, there’s Why baseball, why cricket? Differing nationalisms, differing challenges which asks why India and Pakistan play cricket and the USA does not. A night at Delmonico’s: the Spalding baseball tour and the imagination of Empire looks at parts of the tour by Albert Spalding, particularly the contrasting results of the visits to Australia and Britain, while Similar economic histories, different industrial structures: transatlantic contrasts in the evolution of professional sports leagues contrasts the histories of the English Football League and the National Baseball League.

The issue of class is raised in “Poor man’s cricket”: baseball, class and community in south Wales c.1880-1950 which documents the origins of the sport in south Wales and its development that was said to be ‘slowly ingratiating itself into the favour of the masses’ and became part of the local popular culture.

Even more unexpected is the history of Irish involvement with baseball. As Jerrold Casway notes in his biography, Ed Delahanty in the emerald age of baseball  – “Baseball for Irish kids was a shortcut to the American dream and to self-indulgent glory and fortune”. The Irish in baseball: an early history surveys the contribution of the Irish to the American pastime and the ways in which Irish immigrants and baseball came of age together. It looks at the role of the Irish in Boston, Chicago and Baltimore. Anti-Irish job discrimination circa 1880 : evidence from major league baseball shows that Irish players outperformed non-Irish players both on average and at the margin and were generally relegated to less central positions in the field but were less likely to be hired as managers. Finally there is the chapter, “Slide, Kelly, slide” : the Irish in American baseball in New perspectives on the Irish diaspora and Glimpses of the Irish contribution to early baseball by John P. Rossi in the journal Éire-Ireland (1988).

However, it was not entirely a one-way road as the chapter by Sara Brady, Playing ‘Irish’ sport on baseball’s hallowed ground: the 1947 All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final makes clear (in After the flood: Irish America 1945-1960).

Recent additions (both due to appear in the October update) include Nine innings for the King: the day wartime London stopped for baseball, July 4, 1918 by Jim Leeke and his article Royal match: the Army-Navy service game, July 4, 1918, based on the same event, in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. For historians and baseball fans this journal covers a wide range of topics from racism in the sport (including the Ku Klux Klan), media representation (radio and film) the various baseball tours including Japan and Taiwan and, of course, Babe Ruth.

 

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Latest from Reviews in History – Huguenots, civil wars, communes and medieval Venice

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We start this week with Facing the Revocation: Huguenot Families, Faith and the King’s Will by Carolyn Chapelle Lougee. Raymond Mentzer enjoys a highly original set of insights into the uncertainties and burdens that French Protestants encountered as they confronted the royal proscription of their ancestral religion (no. 2143).

Next up is David Armitage’s Civil Wars: A History in Ideas. John Collins speculates that this new book might cause a revolution within the discipline, possibly preceded by civil war…(no. 2142).

Then we turn to Living the Revolution: Urban Communes and Soviet Socialism 1917-1932 by Andy Willimott. James Ryan believes this to be an excellent book that deserves to be read widely by all those interested in early Soviet history (no. 2141).

Finally Georg Christ reviews two resources which make precious sets of data accessible in a durable, easy and useful way – CIVES: citizenship privileges in Venice, 1180-1500 and ESTIMO: the Venetian fiscal roster of 1379 (no. 2140)

See our full list of reviews here

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New reviews: Cold War, Easter 1916, Ottonian Queenship

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We start this week with Understanding the Imaginary War: Culture, Thought and Nuclear Conflict, 1945-90, edited by Matthew Grant and Benjamin Ziemann.Mattias Eken and the editors discuss a detailed and thorough presentation of the cultural history of the Cold War (no. 2139, with response here).

Next up is Fearghal McGarry’s The Rising: Ireland: Easter 1916. John Borgonovo and the author debate a work which offers a a wealth of thought-provoking material (no. 2138).

Then we turn to Ottonian Queenship by Simon MacLean. Levi Roach praises a thoughtful and original work, a bold and erudite contribution in a field in which conservatism often predominates (no. 2137).

Finally we have a response from editors Simon Avery and Katherine Graham to Harry Cocks’ review of Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London c.1850 to the Present (read response here).

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Jane Austen 200th anniversary

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This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most well-known literary figures. She died on 18 July 1817, and this year celebrates a variety of different events to commemorate her life (see Jane Austen 200). To tie in with this, we looked at the resources available on the Bibliography of British and Irish History, and have selected some material which highlights the less-explored themes surrounding Austen’s life and her work.

A newly published book titled Jane Austen and the Reformation: Remembering the sacred landscape by Roger E. Moore explores the medieval religious houses that feature in Austen’s novels, noting the nostalgia that people in the Georgian era felt for the England that existed before the Reformation. He pays particular attention to the first-hand experience that Austen had with pre-Reformation buildings, such as being taught at the gatehouse at Reading Abbey and visiting relatives at Stoneleigh Abbey.

Abbey gateway Reading, by Paul Sandby, 1808 (image: Wikipedia)

 

Jane Austen, Dominic Serres, Princess Olive of Cumberland, Graf von Moltke: Unexpected encounters of an interesting kind is an article by Chris Birch in Geneologists’ Magazine (32:4), which charts a surprising family history that traces the author’s heritage from sugar plantations in St Kitts back to James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother. It is thought that the character General Tilney in Northanger Abbey was based on James’ father-in-law, General Edward Mathew.

‘The “Fanny Price Wars”: Jane Austen’s Enlightenment feminist and Mary Wollstonecraft’ is an article in Women’s Studies. Fanny Price from Mansfield Park is generally regarded as Austen’s most unlikeable heroine, and this article discusses how Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women may have shaped the development of Austen’s character.

Jane Austen and the state of the nation by Sheryl Craig takes a political view of Austen’s novels, discussing in each chapter a specific novel and relating it to the political and economic climate, such as Poor Law reform, the Speenhamland System and the Restriction Act of 1797. The monograph concludes that Austen maintained a liberal tory outlook throughout her writing life.

Other resources encompassing wider themes in Austen’s work include ‘Jane Austen’s Plots of Prevention’ in Reading for health : Medical narratives and the nineteenth-century novel by Erika Wright and ‘Novel Appetites: Jane Austen and the “Nothing” of Food’ in The food plot in the nineteenth-century British novel by Michael Parrish Lee.

The Bibliography currently has 219 listed resources for Jane Austen, visit the BBIH to explore more:

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

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