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Latest from Reviews in History – race, Lincoln, early Lancashire welfare and Mormons

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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).

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Latest from Reviews in History – nuclear protest, Thomas Jefferson, slave owners database and medieval ritual

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We start this week with Better Active than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany by Andrew S. Tompkins. Sinead McEneaney and the author discuss a work which places the focus squarely on the transnational connections between activists and activist groups (no. 2169, with response here).

Next up is Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf’s ‘Most Blessed of the Patriarchs’: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. David Houpt enjoys a fascinating look into the psyche of one of America’s most enigmatic figures (no. 2168).

Then we turn to the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership database. Daniel Livesay praises a tremendous resource and tool for the history of slavery, the West Indies, Britain, and the Atlantic World (no. 2167).

Finally we have a response by author Dušan Zupka to Nora Berend’s review of Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty.

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Latest from Reviews in History – nuns, bishops, racist ideas and public health

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We start this week with Tom Crook’s Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830–1910. Christopher Hamlin and the author discuss a book big in scope, range, and thought (no. 2166, with response here).

Next up is Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. Richard King and the author debate a National Book Award winning attempt to re-cast of the framework of assumptions and vocabulary of concepts used in writing about slavery and race (no. 2165, with response here).

Then we turn to S. T. Ambler’s Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272. Robert Swanson thinks that although this book is not totally successful, it offers a stimulating approach which merits serious attention (no. 2164).

Finally we have English Benedictine Nuns in Exile in the Seventeenth Century by Laurence Lux-Sterritt. Kristof Smeyers believe the themes of this book – diaspora, displacement, abandon, isolation, community – are universal (no. 2163).

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Latest from Reviews in History – Irish & German nationalism, British war planning, New Orleans slavery

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We start this week with Shane Nagle’s Histories of Nationalism in Ireland and Germany: A Comparative Study from 1800 to 1932. Jean-Michel Johnston and the author debate a book which reveals interesting similarities and differences between important texts in the national historiographical traditions of Ireland and Germany (no. 2162, with response here).

Next up is The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914 by David G. Morgan-Owen. Christian Melby and the author discuss a book which offers new insights into a leadership who tried to balance an offensive military policy with defending the heart of the empire itself (no. 2161, with response here).

Then we turn to Rashauna Johnson’s Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans During the Age of Revolutions. Matthew Stallard believes this book offers scholars of the African diaspora and many other areas a fruitful conceptualisation with which to frame future projects (no. 2160).

Finally we have an expanded response to last week’s review of An African Volk by author Jamie Miller.

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Latest from Reviews in History – Apartheid, Aelred of Rievaulx, Vietnam and Samuel Marsden

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We start this week with Jamie Miller’s An African Volk: The Apartheid Regime and Its Search for Survival. Robert McNamara and the author discuss what is perhaps the most important book written about South African foreign policy in the mid-Cold War era (no. 2159, with response here).

Next up is A Companion to Aelred of Rievaulx (1110–1167), edited by Marsha L. Dutton. Charlie Rozier believes this companion makes essential reading for students and scholars seeking to explore Aelred for the first time (no. 2158).

Then we turn to Jessica Frazier’s Women’s Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War. Jon Coburn finds this book persuasively asserts that the example shown by Vietnamese women during the war fundamentally influenced the development of women’s liberation in America (no. 2157).

Finally we have The World, the Flesh and the Devil: the Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765-1838 by Andrew Sharp. Ged Martin and the author disagree as to whether the controversial Marsden should be allowed tell his own story without a larger measure of independent commentary (no. 2156, with response here).

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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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