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New Books in British Studies

English, Social, 2 seasons, 1234 episodes, 5 days 5 hours 8 minutes
Interviews with Scholars of Britain about their New Books
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Upal Chakrabarti, "Assembling the Local: Political Economy and Agrarian Governance in British India" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2021)

In 1817, in a region of the eastern coast of British India then known as Cuttack, a group of Paiks, the area's landed militia, began agitating against the East India Company's government, burning down government buildings and looting the treasury. While the attacks were initially understood as an attempt to return the territory's native ruler to power, investigations following the rebellion's suppression traced the cause back to the introduction of a model of revenue governance unsuited to local conditions. Elsewhere in British India, throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, interregional debates over revenue settlement models and property disputes in villages revealed an array of practices of governance that negotiated with the problem of their applicability to local conditions. And at the same time in Britain, the dominant Ricardian conception of political economy was being challenged by thinkers like Richard Jones and William Whewell, who sought to make political economy
29/02/20241 hour 7 minutes 57 seconds
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Christian R. Burset, "An Empire of Laws: Legal Pluralism in British Colonial Policy" (Yale UP, 2023)

In An Empire of Laws: Legal Pluralism in British Colonial Policy (Yale University Press, 2023), Dr. Christian R. Burset presents a compelling reexamination of how Britain used law to shape its empire. For many years, Britain tried to impose its own laws on the peoples it conquered, and English common law usually followed the Union Jack. But the common law became less common after Britain emerged from the Seven Years’ War (1754–63) as the world’s most powerful empire. At that point, imperial policymakers adopted a strategy of legal pluralism: some colonies remained under English law, while others, including parts of India and former French territories in North America, retained much of their previous legal regimes. As legal historian Dr. Burset argues, determining how much English law a colony received depended on what kind of colony Britain wanted to create. Policymakers thought English law could turn any territory into an anglicized, commercial colony; legal pluralism, in contrast, wo
29/02/202444 minutes 10 seconds
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Stanley Wells, "What Was Shakespeare Really Like?" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Sir Stanley Wells is one of the world's greatest authorities on William Shakespeare. Here he brings a lifetime of learning and reflection to bear on some of the most tantalising questions about the poet and dramatist that there are. How did he think, feel, and work? What were his relationships like? What did he believe about death? What made him laugh? This freshly thought and immensely engaging study wrestles with fundamental debates concerning Shakespeare's personality and life. The mysteries of how Shakespeare lived, whom and how he loved, how he worked, how he produced some of the greatest and most abidingly popular works in the history of world literature and drama, have fascinated readers for centuries. What Was Shakespeare Really Like? (Cambridge UP, 2023) conjures illuminating insights to reveal Shakespeare as he was. Wells brings the writer and dramatist alive, in all his fascinating humanity, for readers of today. One of the world's foremost Shakespearians, Professor Sir Stan
26/02/202436 minutes 57 seconds
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Michael Johnston, "The Middle English Book: Scribes and Readers, 1350-1500" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Michael Johnston's The Middle English Book: Scribes and Readers, 1350-1500 (Oxford UP, 2023) addresses a series of questions about the copying and circulation of literature in late medieval England: How do we make sense of the variety of manuscripts surviving from this period? Who copied and disseminated these diverse manuscripts? Who read the literary texts that they transmit? And what was the relationship between those copying literature and those reading it? To answer these questions, this book examines 202 literary manuscripts from the period 1350 to 1500. First, this study suggests that most surviving manuscripts fall into four categories, depending on the proximity and relationship of that manuscript's scribes and readers. But beyond proposing these new categories, this book also looks at the history of writing practices, and demonstrates the ubiquity of bureaucracies within late medieval England.  As a result, The Middle English Book argues that literary production was a decente
24/02/202443 minutes 19 seconds
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Jacob Ward, "Visions of a Digital Nation: Market and Monopoly in British Telecommunications" (MIT Press, 2024)

In Visions of a Digital Nation: Market and Monopoly in British Telecommunications (MIT Press, 2024), Jacob Ward explains why the privatization of British Telecom signaled a pivotal moment in the rise of neoliberalism, and how it was shaped by the longer development and digitalization of Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure.  When Margaret Thatcher sold British Telecom for £3.6 billion in 1984, it became not only, at the time, the largest stock flotation in history, but also a watershed moment in the rise of neoliberalism and deregulation. In Visions of a Digital Nation, Ward offers an incisive interdisciplinary perspective on how technology prefigured this pivot. Giving due consideration to the politicians, engineers, and managers who paved the way for this historic moment, Ward illustrates how the decision validated the privatization of public utilities and tied digital technology to free market rationales. In this examination of the national and, at times, global history of te
23/02/202451 minutes 9 seconds
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Harriet Lyon, "Memory and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Early Modern England" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

The dissolution of the monasteries was recalled by individuals and communities alike as a seismic rupture in the religious, cultural, and socio-economic fabric of early modern England. It was also profoundly important in shaping contemporary historical consciousness, the topographical imagination, and local tradition. Memory and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2021) by Dr. Harriet Lyon is a book about the dissolution of the monasteries after the dissolution. Dr. Lyon argues that our understanding of this historical moment is enriched by taking a long chronological view of the suppression, by exploring how it was remembered to those who witnessed it and how this memory evolved in subsequent generations. Exposing and repudiating the assumptions of a conventional historiography that has long been coloured by Henrician narratives and sources, this book reveals that the fall of the religious houses was remembered as one of the most pro
22/02/202459 minutes 46 seconds
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Isabella Alexander, "Copyright and Cartography: History, Law, and the Circulation of Geographical Knowledge" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Isabella Alexander's book Copyright and Cartography: History, Law, and the Circulation of Geographical Knowledge (Bloomsbury, 2023) explores the intertwined histories of mapmaking and copyright law in Britain from the early modern period up to World War 1, focusing chiefly on the 18th and 19th centuries. Taking a multidisciplinary approach and making extensive use of the archival record, this is the first detailed, historical account of the relationship between maps and copyright. As such, it examines how the emergence and development of copyright law affected mapmakers and the map trade and how the application of copyright law to the field of mapmaking affected the development of copyright doctrine. Its explorations cast new light on the circulation of geographical knowledge, different cultures of authorship and creativity, and connections between copyright law, print culture, technology, and society.  The book will be of interest to legal historians, intellectual property scholars, a
22/02/202443 minutes 6 seconds
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Ruth Ahnert and Sebastian E. Ahnert, "Tudor Networks of Power" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Tudor Networks of Power (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Ruth Ahnert & Dr. Sebastian Ahnert is the product of a groundbreaking collaboration between an early modern book historian and a physicist specialising in complex networks. Together they have reconstructed and computationally analysed the networks of intelligence, diplomacy, and political influence across a century of Tudor history (1509-1603), based on the British State Papers. The 130,000 letters that survive in the State Papers from the Tudor period provide crucial information about the textual organisation of the social network centred on the Tudor government. Whole libraries have been written using this archive, but until now nobody has had access to the macroscopic tools that allow us to ask questions such as: What are the reasons for the structure of the Tudor government's intelligence network? What was it geographical reach and coverage? Can we use network data to show patterns of surveillance? What role did women p
21/02/202441 minutes 13 seconds
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Isabel B. Taylor, "The Crown and Its Records: Archives, Access, and the Ancient Constitution in Seventeenth-Century England" (De Gruyter, 2023)

Archives are popularly seen as liminal, obscure spaces -- a perception far removed from the early modern reality. In The Crown and Its Records: Archives, Access, and the Ancient Constitution in Seventeenth-Century England (De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2023), Isabel Taylor examines the central English archival system in the period before 1700 and highlights the role played by the public records repositories in furnishing precedents for the constitutional struggle between Crown and Parliament. This book traces the deployment of archival research in these controversies by three individuals who were at various points occupied with the keeping of records: Sir Robert Cotton, John Selden, and William Prynne. The Crown and Its Records concludes by investigating the secretive State Paper Office, home of the arcana imperii, and its involvement in the government's intelligence network: notably the engagement of its most prominent Keeper Sir Thomas Wilson in judicial and political intrigue on behalf of
19/02/202445 minutes 37 seconds
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Ian Saxine, "Properties of Empire: Indians, Colonists, and Land Speculators on the New England Frontier" (NYU Press, 2019)

In Properties of Empire: Indians, Colonists, and Land Speculators on the New England Frontier (NYU Press, 2019), Ian Saxine, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Bridgewater State University, shows the dynamic relationship between Native and English systems of property on the turbulent edge of Britain’s empire, and how so many colonists came to believe their prosperity depended on acknowledging Indigenous land rights. As absentee land speculators and hardscrabble colonists squabbled over conflicting visions for the frontier, Wabanaki Indians’ unity allowed them to forcefully project their own interpretations of often poorly remembered old land deeds and treaties. The result was the creation of a system of property in Maine that defied English law, and preserved Native power and territory. Eventually, ordinary colonists, dissident speculators, and grasping officials succeeded in undermining and finally destroying this arrangement, a process that took place in councils and courtroo
16/02/20241 hour 26 minutes 44 seconds
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Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, "Imperial Wine: How the British Empire Made Wine’s New World" (U California Press, 2022)

Imperial Wine: How the British Empire Made Wine’s New World (University of California Press, 2022) by Dr. Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre is a bold, rigorous and award-winning history of Britain’s surprising role in creating the wine industries of Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Dr. Regan-Lefebvre bridges the genres of global commodity history and imperial history, presenting provocative new research in an accessible narrative. This is the first book to argue that today’s global wine industry exists as a result of settler colonialism and that imperialism was central, not incidental, to viticulture in the British colonies. Wineries were established almost immediately after the colonisation of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand as part of a civilising mission: tidy vines, heavy with fruit, were symbolic of Britain’s subordination of foreign lands. Economically and culturally, nineteenth-century settler winemakers saw the British market as paramount. However, British drinkers were
16/02/202447 minutes 23 seconds
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Laura Flannigan, "Royal Justice and the Making of the Tudor Commonwealth, 1485–1547" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

The dawn of the Tudor regime is one of most recognisable periods of English history. Yet the focus on its monarchs' private lives and ministers' constitutional reforms creates the impression that this age's major developments were isolated to halls of power, far removed from the wider populace. Royal Justice and the Making of the Tudor Commonwealth, 1485–1547 (Cambridge University Press, 2023) by Dr. Laura Flannigan presents a more holistic vision of politics and society in late mediaeval and early modern England. Delving into the rich but little-studied archive of the royal Court of Requests, it reconstructs collaborations between sovereigns and subjects on the formulation of an important governmental ideal: justice. Examining the institutional and social dimensions of this point of contact, this study places ordinary people, their knowledge and demands at the heart of a judicial revolution unfolding within the governments of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Yet it also demonstrates that dir
13/02/202450 minutes 23 seconds
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Richard T. Rodríguez, "A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad" (Duke UP, 2022)

In A Kiss Across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad (Duke UP, 2022), Richard T. Rodríguez examines the relationship between British post-punk musicians and their Latinx audiences in the United States since the 1980s. Melding memoir with cultural criticism, Rodríguez spotlights a host of influential bands and performers including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam Ant, Bauhaus, Soft Cell, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Pet Shop Boys. He recounts these bands’ importance for him and other Latinx kids and discusses their frequent identification with these bands’ glamorous performance of difference. Whether it was Siouxsie Sioux drawing inspiration from Latinx contemporaries and cultural practices or how Soft Cell singer Marc Almond’s lyrics were attuned to the vibrancy of queer Latinidad, Rodríguez shows how Latinx culture helped shape British post-punk. He traces the fandom networks that link these groups across space and time to illuminate how popular
09/02/20241 hour 7 minutes 8 seconds
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Florence Mok, "Covert Colonialism: Governance, Surveillance and Political Culture in British Hong Kong, c.1966-97" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Florence Mok's book Covert Colonialism: Governance, Surveillance and Political Culture in British Hong Kong, c.1966-97 (Manchester UP, 2023) is timely and exciting for those who are interested in colonial governance and autonomy of the colonial polity. This is a long-ignored area in which colonial historians have made major interventions. Moving away from the existing focus on theories by political scientists and sociologists, this book uses under-exploited archival and unofficial data in London and Hong Kong to construct an empirical study of colonial governance and political culture in Hong Kong during a critical period. From 1966 to 1997, while in mainland China, the Cultural Revolution broke out and caused chaos, in other British colonies beginning or having completed decolonisation, in Hong Kong, the Star Ferry riots in 1966 gave rise to the setup of Town Talk, later MOOD, and then Talking Points, which were used to monitor and construct public opinions and feedback to policy maki
08/02/20241 hour 3 minutes 16 seconds
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Matthew Kruer, "Time of Anarchy: Indigenous Power and the Crisis of Colonialism in Early America" (Harvard UP, 2021)

A gripping account of the violence and turmoil that engulfed England’s fledgling colonies and the crucial role played by Native Americans in determining the future of North America. In 1675, eastern North America descended into chaos. Virginia exploded into civil war, as rebel colonists decried the corruption of planter oligarchs and massacred allied Indians. Maryland colonists, gripped by fears that Catholics were conspiring with enemy Indians, rose up against their rulers. Separatist movements and ethnic riots swept through New York and New Jersey. Dissidents in northern Carolina launched a revolution, proclaiming themselves independent of any authority but their own. English America teetered on the edge of anarchy. Though seemingly distinct, these conflicts were in fact connected through the Susquehannock Indians, a once-mighty nation reduced to a small remnant. Forced to scatter by colonial militia, Susquehannock bands called upon connections with Indigenous nations from the Great
07/02/20241 hour 39 minutes 35 seconds
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Jessica Hinchy, "Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c.1850-1900" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

Until Jessica Hinchy’s latest book, Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c.1850-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), there was no single monograph dedicated to the history of the Hijra community. Perhaps this silence can bear the loudest testament of the marginalization this gender non-confirming community was subjected to under British colonial rule. This book is, therefore, important not only because of its efforts to humanize and situate this community amid the anxieties and hubristic ambitions of colonial rule, but also because it documents the ability many Hijras have to preserve in spite of systematic policing and criminalization. More importantly, perhaps, Jessica Hinchy reveals that the Hijras’ were not just surveilled or marginalized; British colonial authorities ultimately aimed to eradicate and eliminate the community entirely. Jessica Hinchy is Assistant Professor in History at the Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. Her research exam
05/02/20241 hour 4 minutes 6 seconds
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The Culture Trap, with Sociologist Derron Wallace (EF, JP)

In this episode, Elizabeth and John talk with Derron Wallace, sociologist of education and Brandeis colleague, about his new book The Culture Trap, which explores "ethnic expectations" for Caribbean schoolchildren in New York and London. His work starts with the basic puzzle that while black Caribbean schoolchildren in New York are often considered as "high-achieving," in London, they have been, conversely thought to be "chronically underachieving." Yet in each case the main cause -- of high achievement in New York and low achievement in London -- is said to be cultural. We discuss the concept of "ethnic expectations" and the ways it can have negative effects even when the expectations themselves are positive, and the dense intertwining of race, class, nation, colonial status, and gender, and the travels of the concept of culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. Mentioned in the episode: The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report [the Sewell Report] (2021) The Moynihan Rep
01/02/202447 minutes 30 seconds
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Joshua Ehrlich, "The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

The East India Company was a unique entity in world history: More than just a commercial enterprise, the Company tried to act as its own government. Not many at the time–whether legislators or company officials in London, and certainly not Indian people—though this was a great idea. As Joshua Ehrlich notes in his book The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press: 2023), the Company hit upon a novel justification for its work: It was committed to the pursuit of knowledge, and that was why it needed to merge commercial and political power. In this interview, Josh and I talk about the East India Company, how it tried to make “knowledge” part of its responsibility, and how the “politics of knowledge” are still relevant today. Joshua Ehrlich is an award-winning historian of knowledge and political thought with a focus on the East India Company and the British Empire in South and Southeast Asia. Currently Assistant Professor of History at the University of
01/02/202438 minutes 2 seconds
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The Future of School Reform: A Discussion with Alison Colwell

Educationalists sometimes argue that the best way to improve a failing school is to appoint a strict principal or head, and this is sometimes the case. Not everyone agrees, of course, and many wonder what a strict principle or head actually does to improve student performance. In this interview, Owen Bennett Jones speaks with Alison Colwell, a woman the Daily Mail labelled Britain’s strictest head teacher. She turned a school around, and tells Bennett Jones how she did it. Colwell is the author of No Excuses Turning Around One of Britain’s Toughest Schools (Biteback, 2023). Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbook
31/01/202438 minutes 30 seconds
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Why are there more women in parliament than ever before, and does it matter?

Why do some countries do better than others in advancing women as political leaders and in promoting women’s rights? And what difference does this make to women’s everyday lives? In this episode CEDAR’s Nic Cheeseman talks to Aili Mari Tripp, a world leading researcher of women’s movements, who explains why there are more women in parliament than ever before, and the role that gender quotas have played in this trend. We also discuss why some authoritarian governments gone to greater lengths to promote women’s representation than their democratic counterparts, and whether this is simply a PR exercise or reflects a deeper commitment to equality. Aili Mari Tripp is the Vilas Research Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one of the world’s leading researchers on women’s movements and political representation. She has written seven books and co-edited seven more, many of which have won awards, and all of which have demonstrated the complexities of women’
31/01/202430 minutes 21 seconds
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Anna Reid, "A Nasty Little War: The West's Fight to Reverse the Russian Revolution" (Basic Books, 2024)

In A Nasty Little War: The Western Fight to Reverse the Russian Revolution (Basic Books, 2024), award-winning reporter Anna Reid tells the extraordinary story of how the West tried to reverse the Russian Revolution. In the closing months of the First World War, Britain, America, France and Japan sent arms and 180,000 soldiers to Russia, with the aim of tipping the balance in her post-revolutionary Civil War. From Central Asia to the Arctic and from Poland to the Pacific, they joined anti-Bolshevik forces in trying to overthrow the new men in the Kremlin, in an astonishingly ambitious military adventure known as the Intervention. Fresh, in the case of the British, from the trenches, they found themselves in a mobile, multi-sided conflict as different as possible from the grim stasis of the Western Front. Criss-crossing the shattered Russian empire in trains, sleds and paddlesteamers, they bivouacked in snowbound cabins and Kirghiz yurts, torpedoed Red battleships from speedboats, improv
29/01/202453 minutes 43 seconds
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Renée Fox, "The Necromantics: Reanimation, the Historical Imagination, and Victorian British and Irish Literature" (Ohio State UP, 2023)

The Necromantics: Reanimation, the Historical Imagination, and Victorian British and Irish Literature (Ohio State UP, 2023) dwells on the literal afterlives of history. Reading the reanimated corpses—monstrous, metaphorical, and occasionally electrified—that Mary Shelley, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, W. B. Yeats, Bram Stoker, and others bring to life, Renée Fox argues that these undead figures embody the present’s desire to remake the past in its own image. Fox positions “necromantic literature” at a nineteenth-century intersection between sentimental historiography, medical electricity, imperial gothic monsters, and the Irish Literary Revival, contending that these unghostly bodies resist critical assumptions about the always-haunting power of history.  By considering Irish Revival texts within the broader scope of nineteenth-century necromantic works, The Necromantics challenges Victorian studies’ tendency to merge Irish and English national traditions into a single British whol
27/01/202435 minutes 24 seconds
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Marcia Stephenson, "Llamas beyond the Andes: Untold Histories of Camelids in the Modern World" (U Texas Press, 2023)

Camelids are vital to the cultures and economies of the Andes. The animals have also been at the heart of ecological and social catastrophe: Europeans overhunted wild vicuña and guanaco and imposed husbandry and breeding practices that decimated llama and alpaca flocks that had been successfully tended by Indigenous peoples for generations. Yet the colonial encounter with these animals was not limited to the New World. Llamas Beyond the Andes: The Untold History of Camelids in the Modern World (University of Texas Press, 2023) by Dr. Marcia Stephenson tells the five-hundred-year history of animals removed from their native habitats and transported overseas. Initially Europeans prized camelids for the bezoar stones found in their guts: boluses of ingested matter that were thought to have curative powers. Then the animals themselves were shipped abroad as exotica. As Europeans and US Americans came to recognize the economic value of camelids, new questions emerged: What would these novel
27/01/202456 minutes 36 seconds
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Gregor Gall, "Mick Lynch: The Making of a Working-Class Hero " (Manchester UP, 2024)

In the summer of 2022, the little-known leader of a small union became a ‘working-class hero’. Facing down media pundits who thought they could walk all over him, he offered a robust critique of the government and provided workers with an authentic voice. At a time when the Labour Party was unable to articulate a credible alternative to the Tories, Mick Lynch spoke for the working class. Where did Lynch come from? How did he develop the skills and traits that make him such an effective spokesperson and leader? Gregor Gall's biography Mick Lynch: The Making of a Working-Class Hero (Manchester UP, 2024) explores his family and social background and his rise to the top of the RMT union, which culminated in election as General Secretary in 2021. Considering his persona and politics, this book asks what quality singles out Lynch as a working-class hero compared to other union leaders and, more broadly, what leadership means for working people and for the left. If we want better leaders at e
27/01/20241 hour 6 minutes 56 seconds
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Nicholas Radburn, "Traders in Men: Merchants and the Transformation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade" (Yale UP, 2023)

During the eighteenth century, Britain’s slave trade exploded in size. Formerly a small and geographically constricted business, the trade had, by the eve of the American Revolution, grown into an Atlantic-wide system through which fifty thousand men, women, and children were enslaved every year. In Traders in Men: Merchants and the Transformation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Yale UP, 2023), Nicholas Radburn explains how thousands of slaving merchants in Africa, Britain, and the British Americas collectively created this cancerous system by devising highly efficient, but also violent, new business methods. African brokers developed commercial techniques that facilitated the enslavement and sale of millions of people. Britons invented shipping methods that quelled enslaved people’s constant resistance on the Middle Passage. And American slave traders formulated brutal techniques through which shiploads of people could be quickly sold to a variety of colonial buyers. Truly Atlantic-
24/01/20241 hour 15 minutes 18 seconds
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James R. Fichter, "Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776" (Cornell UP, 2023)

In Tea: Consumption, Politics, and Revolution, 1773–1776 (Cornell University Press, 2023), Dr. James R. Fichter reveals that despite the so-called Boston Tea Party in 1773, two large shipments of tea from the East India Company survived and were ultimately drunk in North America. Their survival shaped the politics of the years ahead, impeded efforts to reimburse the company for the tea lost in Boston Harbor, and hinted at the enduring potency of consumerism in revolutionary politics. Tea protests were widespread in 1774, but so were tea advertisements and tea sales, Fichter argues. The protests were noisy and sometimes misleading performances, not clear signs that tea consumption was unpopular. Revolutionaries vilified tea in their propaganda and prohibited the importation and consumption of tea and British goods. Yet merchant ledgers reveal these goods were still widely sold and consumed in 1775. Colonists supported Patriots more than they abided by non-consumption. When Congress ende
24/01/20241 hour 3 minutes 5 seconds
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Brian Gastle et al., "The Lover's Confession: A Translation of John Gower's Confessio Amantis" (Medieval Institute Press, 2023)

John Gower’s "Confessio Amantis" ("The Lover’s Confession") is one of the most important English works of the fourteenth century. Within its frame of the lovesick lover’s confession are well over a hundred stories, mainly derived from classical mythology, the Bible, and history which exemplify the Middle Ages. Echoing the octosyllabic line of the original, The Lover's Confession: A Translation of John Gower's Confessio Amantis (Medieval Institute Press, 2023) is the first translation of the entire (33,000-line) poem, including its Latin verses and glosses. The book was edited and translated by Brian Gastle and Catherine Carter, with Latin translations by Andrew Galloway. Nikki Roulo received her Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2023 and her scholarly interests include fools in early modern literature, seventeenth-century drama, poetics, and jestbooks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a pr
21/01/202449 minutes 21 seconds
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Jane Ohlmeyer, "Making Empire: Ireland, Imperialism, and the Early Modern World" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Empire and imperial frameworks, policies, practices, and cultures have shaped the history of the world for the last two millennia. It is nation states that are the blip on the historical horizon. Making Empire: Ireland, Imperialism, and the Early Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Jane Ohlmeyer re-examines empire as process—and Ireland's role in it—through the lens of early modernity. It covers the two hundred years, between the mid-sixteenth century and the mid-eighteenth century, that equate roughly to the timespan of the First English Empire (c.1550-c.1770s). Ireland was England's oldest colony. How then did the English empire actually function in early modern Ireland and how did this change over time? What did access to European empires mean for people living in Ireland? This book answers these questions by interrogating four interconnected themes. First, that Ireland formed an integral part of the English imperial system, Second, that the Irish operated as agents
20/01/20241 hour 32 seconds
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Aniefiok Ekpoudom, "Where We Come From: Rap, Home & Hope in Modern Britain" (Faber and Faber, 2024)

Why is music important to place, and place important to music? In Where We Come From: Rap, Home and Hope in Modern Britain (Faber and Faber, 2024), Aniefiok Ekpoudom, a freelance writer and storyteller from South London, tells the story of UK Rap and Grime music. In doing so he tells the story of Modern British culture. The book uses three places- South London, South Wales, and the Midlands, and three case studies of some of UK Rap and Grime’s leading artists. In doing so, the book powerfully charts the struggles and triumphs of modern British music, and the struggles and triumphs of the places where that music comes from. A work of brilliant and compelling narrative non-fiction, the book is essential reading across the humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in music, culture, and place. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Manchester. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show
19/01/202438 minutes 12 seconds
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Yitzhak Teutsch, "The Cyprus Detention Camps: The Essential Research Guide" (Cambridge Scholars, 2019)

Beginning in August 1946, stateless and visaless Jews, most of them survivors of the Nazi death camps, who sought to immigrate to the Land of Israel were intercepted by the Royal Navy and deported to the nearby island of Cyprus, where they were detained in camps surrounded by barbed wire. Despite occupying a dramatic and fateful position in modern history, this saga has remained largely inaccessible due to the widespread dispersal of the primary sources and the linguistic difficulties presented by them.  To address these problems, Yitzhak Teutsch's book The Cyprus Detention Camps: The Essential Research Guide (Cambridge Scholars, 2019) scrutinizes the scholarly literature, consulting hundreds of primary sources, many of them previously unknown, on three continents, bringing together interviews with scores of eyewitnesses, and translating foreign-language terms into English. The result is a comprehensive, meticulously footnoted guide that uses such tools as maps, a detailed timeline, an
18/01/20241 hour 49 minutes 14 seconds
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The Future of Ireland: Kevin Meagher on Why a United Ireland is Inevitable

In A United Ireland: Why Unification in Inevitable and How It Will Come About (Biteback Publishing, 2017), Kevin Meagher argues that a reasoned, pragmatic discussion about the most basic questions regarding Britain's relationship with its nearest neighbour is now long overdue, and questions that have remained unasked, and perhaps unthought, must now be answered. Indeed, in the light of Brexit and a highly probable second independence referendum in Scotland, the reunification of Ireland is not a question of if, but when and how. Listen to Meagher explain to Owen Bennett Jones why he thinks a united Ireland is inevitable and how he thinks it will happen. Kevin Meagher was a Special Adviser to former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward. He is the associate editor of the Labour Uncut blog and frequently writes about Irish politics for the New Statesman. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident fore
17/01/202459 minutes 2 seconds
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Emma Gleadhill, "Taking Travel Home: The Souvenir Culture of British Women Tourists, 1750-1830" (Manchester UP, 2022)

In the late eighteenth-century, elite British women had an unprecedented opportunity to travel. Taking travel home uncovers the souvenir culture these women developed around the texts and objects they brought back with them to realise their ambitions in the arenas of connoisseurship, friendship and science. Key characters include forty-three-year-old Hester Piozzi (Thrale), who honeymooned in Italy; thirty-one-year-old Anna Miller, who accompanied her husband on a Grand Tour; Dorothy Richardson, who undertook various tours of England from the ages of twelve to fifty-two; and the sisters Katherine and Martha Wilmot, who travelled to Russia in their late twenties. The supreme tourist of the book, the political salon hostess Lady Elizabeth Holland, travelled to many countries with her husband, including Paris, where she met Napoleon, and Spain during the Peninsular War. Using a methodology informed by literary and design theory, art history, material culture studies and tourism studies, E
16/01/20241 hour 2 minutes 24 seconds
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Christopher Corker, "The Business and Technology of the Sheffield Armaments Industry, 1900-1930" (U of York, 2016)

Christopher Corker's The Business and Technology of the Sheffield Armaments Industry, 1900-1930 (U of York, 2016) focuses on four in-depth case studies of John Brown, Cammell-Laird, Thomas Firth and Hadfields to examine the business and technology of the industry. It builds on the work of Tweedale and Trebilcock on Sheffield and armaments, and advances the argument that during the period of study from 1900 to 1930, the city was one of the most important centres for armaments research and production anywhere in the world. The business of the armaments industry is explored through an examination of the evolving links the industry had with the Government against the backdrop of an uncertain trading environment, and the managerial connections established between the state and private industry. Also explored are the collaborative, collusive and independent defensive measures enacted by the industry to counter uncertainty in the industry, through collaborative business arrangements and vario
16/01/202442 minutes 54 seconds
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Miles P. Grier, "Inkface: Othello and White Authority in the Era of Atlantic Slavery" (U Virginia Press, 2023)

In his new book Inkface: Othello and White Authority in the Era of Atlantic Slavery (University of Virginia Press, 2023), Miles P. Grier argues that blackness in Othello and the texts that it influenced should be understood as deeply material, transferable, and unstable. The defining of alphanumerical and dramatic characters, while represented as settled, was anything but. As Miles writes in the book, “Before the racial categories of high scientific racism were elaborated in the late eighteenth century, a functional white interpretive community was being forged through the shared exercise of interpretive authority over inky black figures. The stage offered a place in which control over symbols and their interpretation could be celebrated as if it were already a fait accompli, rather than a tense, ongoing battle.” Miles Parks Grier is Professor of English at Queens College, City University of New York. Miles’s articles have appeared in The William and Mary Quarterly, The Journal of Popu
15/01/20241 hour 23 minutes 50 seconds
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Rishad Choudhury, "Hajj Across Empires: Pilgrimage and Political Culture After the Mughals, 1739-1857" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

In Hajj Across Empires: Pilgrimage and Political Culture After the Mughals, 1739-1857 (Cambridge UP, 2023), Rishad Choudhury presents a new history of imperial connections across the Indian Ocean from 1739 to 1857, a period that witnessed the decline and collapse of Mughal rule and the consolidation of British colonialism in South Asia. In this highly original and comprehensive study, he reveals how the hajj pilgrimage significantly transformed Muslim political culture and colonial attitudes towards it, creating new ideas of religion and rule. Examining links between the Indian Subcontinent and the Ottoman Middle East through multilingual sources – from first-hand accounts to administrative archives of hajj – Choudhury uncovers a striking array of pilgrims who leveraged their experiences and exchanges abroad to address the decline and decentralization of an Islamic old regime at home. Hajjis crucially mediated the birth of modern Muslim political traditions around South Asia. Hajj acro
14/01/20241 hour 27 minutes 7 seconds
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Elisabeth Gernerd, "The Modern Venus: Dress, Underwear and Accessories in the Late 18th-Century Atlantic World" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

From rumps and stays to muffs and handkerchiefs, underwear and accessories were critical components of the 18th-century woman's wardrobe. They not only created her shape, but expressed her character, sociability, fashionability, and even political allegiances. These so-called ephemeral flights of fashion were not peripheral and supplementary, but highly charged artefacts, acting as cultural currency in contemporary society. The Modern Venus: Dress, Underwear and Accessories in the Late 18th-Century Atlantic World (Bloomsbury, 2023) by Dr. Elisabeth Gernerd highlights the significance of these elements of a woman's wardrobe in 1770s and 1780s Britain and the Atlantic World, and shows how they played their part in transforming fashionable dress when this was expanding to new heights and volumes. Dissecting the female silhouette into regions of the body and types of dress and shifting away from a broad-sweeping stylistic evolution, this book explores these potent players within the woman'
14/01/20241 hour 35 minutes 51 seconds
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Stéphane Jettot, "Selling Ancestry: Family Directories and the Commodification of Genealogy in Eighteenth-Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Often cited but rarely studied in their own right, family directories allow a reconsideration of how ancestry and genealogy became an object of widespread commercialization across the eighteenth century. These directories replaced the expensive, locally-produced, early modern artefacts (tombs, windowpanes, illuminated pedigrees), and began to reach a wide audience of readers in the British Isles and the colonies.  In Selling Ancestry: Family Directories and the Commodification of Genealogy in Eighteenth Century Britain (Oxford University Press, 2023), Dr. Stéphane Jettot offers an insight into the cumulative process leading to the creation of these hybrid products — a combination of court almanacks, county histories, and town directories. Employed by contemporaries as reference tools to navigate through a dynamic and changing society, they could be used as a means to probe contemporary attitudes towards social status and political events. Published by the most prominent London booksell
13/01/202455 minutes 21 seconds
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Michael Quinn Dudley, "The Shakespeare Authorship Question and Philosophy" (Cambridge Scholars, 2023)

For nearly 200 years, people have questioned the identity of Shakespeare; however, this debate is often dismissed by most scholars as “just a conspiracy theory,” with the life of the poet-playwright being “beyond doubt.” And yet, the documented facts related to the man from Stratford are meagre—where they exist at all—forcing biographers to rely heavily on their own imaginations.  The Shakespeare Authorship Question and Philosophy: Knowledge, Rhetoric, Identity (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2023) by Michael Quinn Dudley moves beyond this debate to understand how we construct our understanding of the author by asking pointed questions. What does it mean to say that the traditional stance on Shakespeare’s authorship is a belief as opposed to a search for knowledge? What are the ethical implications of declaring that some history is “beyond doubt,” and that no debate about it may be permitted? What can theories of knowledge, truth and rhetoric tell us about how knowledge of Shakespeare
13/01/202456 minutes 23 seconds
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Matthew Romaniello, "Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

In his new book Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia (Cambridge University Press), Matthew Romaniello examines the workings of the British Russia Company and the commercial entanglements of the British and Russian empires in the long eighteenth century. This innovative and highly readable monograph challenges the long-held views of Russian economic backwardness in the early modern period and stresses the importance of personal histories and individual agency in global economic dynamics. By focusing on diplomatic and commercial careers of a fascinating set of characters, Romaniello charts vibrant knowledge and information-sharing networks that were essential for the success of both empires in the Eurasian economic and geopolitical arenas. A non-conventional economic history, Enterprising Empires traverses the micro-historical and the macro-economic to reevaluate Russian commercial prowess before 1800 and illuminate an overlooked area of Anglo-Russian co
12/01/20241 hour 50 seconds
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Patrick R. O'Malley, "The Irish and the Imagination of Race: White Supremacy Across the Atlantic in the Nineteenth Century" (U Virginia Press, 2023)

Patrick R. O'Malley's book The Irish and the Imagination of Race: White Supremacy Across the Atlantic in the Nineteenth Century (U Virginia Press, 2023) analyzes the role of Irishness in nineteenth-century constructions of race and racialization, both in the British Isles and in the United States. Focusing on the years immediately preceding the American Civil War, Patrick O’Malley interrogates the bardic verse epic, the gothic tale, the realist novel, the stage melodrama, and the political polemic to ask how many mid-nineteenth-century Irish nationalist writers with liberationist politics declined to oppose race-based chattel enslavement in the United States and the structures of white supremacy that underpinned and ultimately outlived it. Many of the writers whose work O’Malley examines drew specifically upon the image of Black suffering to generate support for their arguments for Irish political enfranchisement; yet in doing so, they frequently misrepresented the fundamental differen
11/01/202457 minutes 48 seconds
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Brandon Presser, "The Far Land: 200 Years of Murder, Mania and Mutiny in the South Pacific" (Icon Books, 2022)

In 1808, an American merchant ship happened upon an uncharted island in the South Pacific and unwittingly solved the biggest nautical mystery of the era: the whereabouts of a band of fugitives who, after seizing their vessel, had disappeared into the night with their Tahitian companions. Seven generations later, the island is still inhabited by descendants of the original mutineers, marooned like modern castaways. In 2018, Brandon Presser went to live among its families; two clans bound by circumstance and secrets. There, he pieced together Pitcairn's full story: an operatic saga that holds all visitors in its mortal clutch – even the author. Told through vivid historical and personal narrative, The Far Land: 200 Years of Murder, Mania and Mutiny in the South Pacific (Icon Books, 2022) goes beyond the infamous mutiny on the Bounty, offering an unprecedented glimpse at life on the fringes of civilization, and how, perhaps, it's not so different from our own. This interview was conducte
10/01/202449 minutes 7 seconds
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Matthew Kennedy, "On Elizabeth Taylor: An Opinionated Guide" (Oxford UP, 2024)

In the oceans of ink devoted to the monumental movie star/businesswoman/political activist Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor (1932-2011), her beauty and not-so-private life frequently overshadowed her movies. While she knew how to generate publicity like no other, her personal life is set aside in this volume in favor of her professional oeuvre and unique screen dynamism. In On Elizabeth Taylor: An Opinionated Guide (Oxford UP, 2024), her marriages, illnesses, media firestorms, perfume empire, violet eyes, and AIDS advocacy take a back seat to Elizabeth Taylor, the actress. Taylor's big screen credits span over fifty years, from her pre-adolescent debut in There's One Born Every Minute (1942) to her cameo in The Flintstones (1994). She worked steadily in everything from the biggest production in film history (Cleopatra in 1963) to a humble daytime TV soap opera (General Hospital in 1981). Each of her sixty-seven film appearances is recapped here with background on their inception, production,
10/01/20241 hour 7 minutes 28 seconds
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Eileen Botting, "The Wollstonecraftian Mind" (Routledge, 2019)

Eileen Hunt Botting is Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame and co-editor with Sandrine Berges and Alan Coffee of the anthology The Wollstonecraftian Mind (Routledge, 2019). The collection presents thirty-nine essays from distinguished scholars in philosophy, religion, literature, intellectual history, and other fields who consider the work of the eighteenth-century British philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft. A political and moral thinker and a forerunner to modern feminism she has not received attention on par with the wide breath of her ideas. The collection gives the reader insight into to her life, major works of philosophy and novels, debates with Edmund Burke and Rousseau, and enduring legacy. She commented on religion, liberalism, republicanism, moral virtue, education, women’s place in society and much more. Her ideas were known to women such as Lucretia Mott, Virginia Woolf, and Simone de Beauvoir who found in her a source for building a modern feminist philosophy. Timely
06/01/20241 hour 8 minutes 46 seconds
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Virginia Chieffo Raguin, "The Illuminated Window: Stories Across Time" (Reaktion Books, 2023)

The Illuminated Window: Stories Across Times (Reaktion, 2023) is a unique journey through stained-glass installations that spans both time and place. Diverse in technique and style, these windows speak for the communities that created them. From the twelfth to the twenty-first century, we find in the windows stories of conflict, commemoration, devotion and celebration. Dr. Virginia Chieffo Raguin is our guide through the cathedrals of Chartres, Canterbury and Cologne, and takes us from Paris’s Sainte-Chapelle to Swiss guildhalls, Iran’s Pink Mosque, Tiffany’s chapel for the World Exposition, Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses and more. As she reveals, the art of stained glass relies on not only a single maker, but the relationship between the physical site, the patron’s aims, the work’s legibility for the spectator and the prevailing style of the era. This is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated volume for anyone interested in stained-glass works. This interview was conducted by Dr. Mira
05/01/202452 minutes 26 seconds
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Gregg L. Frazer, "God against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy’s Case Against the American Revolution" (UP of Kansas, 2018)

Not everyone was convinced by the arguments of patriots during the American revolution. Among those who retained some degree of loyalty to the British crown were the majority of the clergy of the Episcopalian Church, as well as a smaller number of clergy from Congregational, Presbyterian and other protestant bodies. In this important new work, Gregg L. Frazer, professor of history and political science at The Master’s University, Santa Clarita, CA, surveys the arguments that loyalist clergy proposed. God Against the Revolution: The Loyalist Clergy’s Case Against the American Revolution (University Press of Kansas, 2018) is the first detailed account of this defeated intellectual tradition – a book that challenges many of our assumptions about the character and intention of the American revolution by putting debates about biblical interpretation at its heart. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritani
31/12/202336 minutes 57 seconds
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Erika Dyck, "Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2018)

Today I talked with historian Erika Dyck about Aldous Huxley, Humphry Osmond and their correspondence over a ten year period. Psychedelic Prophets: The Letters of Aldous Huxley and Humphry Osmond (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018) is a collection of letters which were carefully curated by Erika and Cynthia Carson Bisbee, Paul Bisbee, and Patrick Farrell. During our discussion, Erika recounts the special relationship between two intellectual juggernauts, Huxley and Osmond, and their discussions about drugs, addiction, and death and dying. This important set of letters raises fascinating questions about medicines, the "psychedelic renaissance," the nature of the mind, and perceptions of reality. Dyck is the author of Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD From Clinic to Campus (Johns Hopkins UP, 2010) as well as Culture's Catalyst: Historical Encounters with Peyote and the Native American Church in Canada (Manitoba, 2017). Lucas Richert is an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy at th
30/12/202356 minutes 54 seconds
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Genealogies of Modernity Episode 7: A Genealogy of Gun Violence

The problem of gun violence is as old as guns themselves. According to historian Priya Satia, America’s present epidemic of gun violence has its roots in the industrial revolution. Satia tells the story of British gun-maker Samuel Galton, Jr., who was called to task by his Quaker community for manufacturing rifles. As a professed pacifist, Galton had to wrestle with the large-scale uses to which his weapons were put. So where do we look for answers about how to regulate guns? Some claim the answer has to lie in the past, in the nation’s founding documents. Others argue that novel technologies demand novel solutions. Solving the problem of gun violence may be a case where we need to make a strong modernity claim.  Researcher, writer, and episode producer: Christopher Nygren, Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh Featured Scholars:  Catherine Fletcher, Professor of History, Manchester Metropolitan University Priya Satia, Professor of History, St
28/12/202351 minutes 20 seconds
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Elena Schneider, "The Occupation of Havana: War, Trade and Slavery in the Atlantic World" (UNC Press, 2018)

Histories of the British occupation of Havana in 1762 have focused on imperial rivalries and the actions and decisions of European planters, colonial officials, and military officers. In her stunning revision, The Occupation of Havana: War, Trade and Slavery in the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), Elena Schneider restores the central roles of enslaved Africans in all stages of the story. The relevance of the slave trade and the multiple and essential roles of African and African descended people in battle and in urban life emerge in this beautifully written account. In the aftermath, their valor and loyalty were omitted from contemporary accounts and the ensuing historiography. This book draws from a wide range of sources and multiple archives in a careful narrative that connects the Atlantic worlds of Spain, London, Havana, Kingston and the colonial United States, and zooms in on the enslaved individuals that made that world possible. Learn more about your ad
27/12/202350 minutes 30 seconds
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Huw Bennett, "Uncivil War: The British Army and the Troubles, 1966–1975" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Huw Bennett is a Reader in International Relations at Cardiff Unviersity. He specializes in strategic studies, the history of war, and intelligence studies, and work on both historical and contemporary issues concerning the use of military power. His research focuses on the experiences of the British Army since 1945, in the contexts of British politics, the Cold War, the end of empire, and the War on Terror. In this interview he discusses his book Uncivil War: The British Army and the Troubles, 1966–1975 (Cambridge UP, 2023). When Operation Banner was launched in 1969 civil war threatened to break out in Northern Ireland and spread over the Irish Sea. Uncivil War reveals the full story of how the British army acted to save Great Britain from disaster during the most violent phase of the Troubles but, in so doing, condemned the people of Northern Ireland to protracted, grinding conflict. Huw Bennett shows how the army's ambivalent response to loyalist violence undermined the prospects f
22/12/202326 minutes 8 seconds
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Helen Louise Cowie, "Victims of Fashion: Animal Commodities in Victorian Britain" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Animal products were used extensively in nineteenth-century Britain. A middle-class Victorian woman might wear a dress made of alpaca wool, drape herself in a sealskin jacket, brush her hair with a tortoiseshell comb, and sport feathers in her hat. She might entertain her friends by playing a piano with ivory keys or own a parrot or monkey as a living fashion accessory. In Victims of Fashion: Animal Commodities in Victorian Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Dr. Helen Cowie examines the role of these animal-based commodities in Britain in the long nineteenth century and traces their rise and fall in popularity in response to changing tastes, availability, and ethical concerns. Focusing on six popular animal products – feathers, sealskin, ivory, alpaca wool, perfumes, and exotic pets – she considers how animal commodities were sourced and processed, how they were marketed and how they were consumed. Dr. Cowie also assesses the ecological impact of nineteenth-century fashion. Th
21/12/202358 minutes 3 seconds
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Saving the Brontë Birthplace

Where were the Brontë sisters actually born? If this was a quiz question, most people would give the wrong answer. Even standard books on the Brontë family often gloss over the fact that Charlotte, Emily and Anne – along with their wayward brother Branwell – were all born between 1815 and 1820 in Thornton, a village on the edge of Bradford, and not at the famous Brontë Parsonage in nearby Haworth. The original hearth in front of which they were born – and the modest terraced property in Market Street, Thornton still housing that historic fireplace – is surprisingly little-known even among Bronte enthusiasts. All that is about to change. A group of dedicated volunteers, backed by a couple of grants and a lot of crowdfunding, has just bought the long-neglected house and will soon embark on transforming it into an arts and education project with a difference. Under the banner ‘Be More Brontë’, local youngsters will be introduced to the Bronte sisters, hear about wonderful books such as Ja
19/12/202330 minutes 38 seconds
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Jonathan Sumption, "Triumph and Illusion: The Hundred Years War, Vol. 5" (Faber & Faber, 2023)

Triumph and Illusion (Faber & Faber, 2023) is the final volume of Jonathan Sumption's epic history of the Hundred Years War. It tells the story of the collapse of the English dream of conquest from the opening years of the reign of Henry VI, when the battles of Cravant and Verneuil consolidated their control of most of northern France, until the loss of all their continental dominions except Calais thirty years later. This sudden reversal of fortune was a seminal event in the history of the two principal nation-states of western Europe. It brought an end to four centuries of the English dynasty's presence in France, separating two countries whose fortunes had once been closely intertwined. It created a new sense of national identity in both countries. The legacy of these events would influence their divergent fortunes for centuries to come. Behind the clash of arms stood some of the most remarkable personalities of the age: the Duke of Bedford, the English Regent who ruled much of Fran
14/12/202342 minutes 10 seconds
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Julian Go, "Policing Empires: Militarization, Race, and the Imperial Boomerang in Britain and the US" (Oxford UP, 2023)

The police response to protests erupting on America's streets in recent years has made the militarization of policing painfully transparent. Yet, properly demilitarizing the police requires a deeper understanding of its historical development, causes, and social logics.  Policing Empires: Militarization, Race, and the Imperial Boomerang in Britain and the US (Oxford UP, 2023) offers a postcolonial historical sociology of police militarization in Britain and the United States to aid that effort. Julian Go tracks when, why, and how British and US police departments have adopted military tactics, tools, and technologies for domestic use. Go reveals that police militarization has occurred since the very founding of modern policing in the nineteenth century into the present, and that it is an effect of the "imperial boomerang." Policing Empires thereby unlocks the dirty secret of police militarization: Police have brought imperial practices home to militarize themselves in response to perce
12/12/202353 minutes 37 seconds
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Stephen Legg, "Round Table Conference Geographies: Constituting Colonial India in Interwar London" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Stephen Legg's Round Table Conference Geographies: Constituting Colonial India in Interwar London (Cambridge UP, 2022) explores a major international conference in 1930s London which determined India's constitutional future in the British Empire. Pre-dating the decolonising conferences of the 1950s–60s, the Round Table Conference laid the blueprint for India's future federal constitution. Despite this the conference is unanimously read as a failure, for not having comprehensively reconciled the competing demands of liberal and Indian National Congress politicians, of Hindus and Muslims, and of British versus Princely India.  This book argues that the conference's three sessions were vital sites of Indian and imperial politics that demand serious attention. It explores the spatial politics of the conference in terms of its imaginary geographies, infrastructures, host city, and how the conference was contested and represented. The book concludes by asking who gained through representing
10/12/202351 minutes 30 seconds
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Katharine M. Millar, "Support the Troops: Military Obligation, Gender, and the Making of Political Community" (Oxford UP, 2022)

In the past, it was assumed that men, as good citizens, would serve in the armed forces in wartime. In the present, however, liberal democratic states increasingly rely on small, all-volunteer militaries deployed in distant wars of choice. While few people now serve in the armed forces, our cultural myths and narratives of warfare continue to reproduce a strong connection between military service, citizenship, and normative masculinity. In Support the Troops: Military Obligation, Gender, and the Making of Political Community (Oxford University Press, 2022), Dr. Katharine M. Millar provides an empirical overview of "support the troops" discourses in the US and UK during the early years of the global war on terror (2001-2010). As Dr. Millar argues, seemingly stable understandings of the relationship between military service, citizenship, and gender norms are being unsettled by changes in warfare. The effect is a sense of uneasiness about the meaning of what it means to be a "good" citize
08/12/20231 hour 5 minutes 57 seconds
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Fae Dussart, "In the Service of Empire: Domestic Service and Mastery in Metropole and Colony" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Despite recent research, the 19th-century history of domestic service in empire and its wider implications is underexplored. In the Service of Empire: Domestic Service and Mastery in Metropole and Colony (Bloomsbury, 2022) by Dr. Fae Dussart sheds new light on servants and their masters in the British Empire, and in doing so offers new discourses on the colonial home, imperial society identities and colonial culture. Using a wide range of source material, from private papers to newspaper articles, official papers and court records, Dr. Dussart explores the strategic nature of the relationship, the connection between imperialism, domesticity and a master/servant paradigm that was deployed in different ways by varied actors often neglected in the historical record. Positioned outside the family but inside the private place of the home, 'the domestic servant' was often the foil against which 19th-century contemporaries worked out class, race and gender identities across metropole and colo
07/12/202358 minutes 16 seconds
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Amy Matthewson, "Cartooning China: Punch, Power, & Politics in the Victorian Era" (Routledge, 2022)

Dr. Amy Matthewson's Cartooning China: Punch, Power, & Politics in the Victorian Era (Routledge, 2022) explores the series of cartoons of China and the Chinese that were published in the popular British satirical magazine Punch over a sixty-year period from 1841 to 1901. Filled with political metaphors and racial stereotypes, these illustrations served as a powerful tool in both reflecting and shaping notions and attitudes towards China at a tumultuous time in Sino-British history. A close reading of both the visual and textual satires in Punch reveals how a section of British society visualised and negotiated with China as well as Britain’s position in the global community. By contextualising Punch’s cartoons within the broader frameworks of British socio-cultural and political discourse, the Dr. Matthewson engages in a critical enquiry of popular culture and its engagements with race, geopolitical propaganda, and public consciousness. This book will interest scholars and researchers
06/12/202335 minutes 31 seconds
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Hannah Carlson, "Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close" (Algonquin Books, 2023)

It’s a subject that stirs up plenty of passion: Why do men’s clothes have so many pockets and women’s so few? In her captivating book Pockets: An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close (Hachette, 2023), Dr. Hannah Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Design, shows us how we tuck gender politics, security, sexuality, and privilege inside our pockets. In mediaeval Europe, the purse was an almost universal dress feature carried by men and women alike. But when tailors stitched the first pockets into men’s trousers 500 years ago, it ignited controversy and introduced a range of social issues that we continue to wrestle with today, from concealed pistols to gender inequality, as noted in hashtags like #GiveMePocketsOrGiveMeDeath. This abundantly illustrated four-colour book explores much more than who has pockets and why. How is it that putting your hands in your pocket can be seen as a sign of laziness, arrogance, confidence, or perversion? Walt Whitman’
06/12/202348 minutes 53 seconds
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Christopher A. Whatley and Joanna Hambly, "Salt: Scotland's Newest Oldest Industry" (Birlinn, 2023)

Salt is a vital commodity. For many centuries it sustained life for Scots as seasoning for a diet dominated by grains (mainly oats), and for preservation of fish and cheese. Sea-salt manufacturing is one of Scotland’s oldest industries, dating to the eleventh century if not earlier. Smoke- and steam-emitting panhouses were once a common sight along the country’s coastline and are reflected in many of Scotland’s placenames. The industry was a high-status activity, with the monarch initially owning salt pans. Salt manufacture was later organised by Scotland’s abbeys and then by landowners who had access to the sea and a nearby supply of coal. As salt was an important source of tax revenue for the government, it was often a cause of conflict (and military action) between Scotland and England. The future of the industry – and the price of salt for consumers – was a major issue during negotiations around the Union of 1707. Salt: Scotland's Newest Oldest Industry (Birlinn, 2023) edited by Dr
05/12/202359 minutes 18 seconds
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Hilary French, "Ballroom: A People’s History of Dancing" (Reaktion Books, 2022)

In the early twentieth century, American ragtime and the Parisian tango fuelled a dancing craze in Britain. Public ballrooms were built throughout the country, providing a glamorous setting for dancing. The new English style, defined in the 1920s and followed by the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1930s, ensured that ballroom dancing continued to be the most popular British pastime until the 1960s, rivalled only by cinema. Ballroom: A People's History of Dancing (Reaktion, 2022) by Dr. Hilary French explores the vibrant history of ballroom and Latin dancing: the dances, lavish venues, competitions and influential instructors. It also traces the decline of couple dancing and its resurgence in recent years with the hugely popular TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war
05/12/202342 minutes 54 seconds
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Simon Joyce, "LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives" (Oxford UP, 2022)

It has been decades since Michel Foucault urged us to rethink "the repressive hypothesis" and see new forms of sexual discourse as coming into being in the nineteenth century, yet the term "Victorian" still has largely negative connotations. LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives (Oxford UP, 2022) argues for re-visiting the period's thinking about gender and sexual identity at a time when our queer alliances are fraying. We think of those whose primary self-definition is in terms of sexuality (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals) and those for whom it is gender identity (intersex and transgender people, genderqueers) as simultaneously in coalition and distinct from each other, on the assumption that gender and sexuality are independent aspects of self-identification. Re-examining how the Victorians considered such identity categories to have produced and shaped each other can ground a more durable basis for strengthening our present LGBTQ+ coalition. LGBT Vic
05/12/20231 hour 14 minutes 34 seconds
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H. E. Sawyer, "I Am the Dark Tourist: Messenger of Remembrance" (Headpress, 2023)

Dark tourism is the practice of visiting sites associated with death and disaster. Participation is increasing, yet much of the machinations behind dark tourism remain shrouded in mystery, and intentionally so.  In his latest book, I am the Dark Tourist, Messenger of Remembrance (Headpress, 2023), H.E. Sawyer explores the seductive premise that dark tourism offers the possibility of 'transformation'; that visiting memorials to past tragedy will ultimately lead us to becoming better versions of ourselves. Championed by enthusiastic governments -- notably in the UK -- 'must have' memorialisation has become an opportunity to groom the public with contrived grief from the past that will be replenished by establishment neglect in the future. From the waters of Loch Ness to the chaos of Mexico's Dia de Muertos, H. E. Sawyer considers the questions state-sponsored dark tourism fears whilst posing one for himself: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Learn more about your ad choices. Vi
03/12/202354 minutes 24 seconds
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Sima Saigal, "The Second World War and North East India: Shadows of Yesteryears" (Routledge, 2022)

Sima Saigal's The Second World War and North East India: Shadows of Yesteryears (Routledge, 2022) discusses the untold story of North East India's role during the Second World War and its resultant socio-economic and political impact. It goes beyond standard campaign histories and the epicentre of the Kohima-Imphal battlefields to the Brahmaputra and Surma Valley of Assam--the administrative and political hub of the region, where decisions on the allied war efforts were deliberated and effected right from the outset of the War. What happened in the entire region during the intervening years from 1939? What did the war mean for the people of Assam? How were resources from the region mobilized for the global war effort and how did people adapt, co-opt and survive during these tumultuous years? What was the response of the nationalist and provincial political leaders to the challenges and demands of war? How did the crisis of the 1942 war impact the region?  First of its kind, this book i
03/12/20231 hour 21 minutes 52 seconds
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Samiparna Samanta, "Meat, Mercy, Morality: Animals and Humanitarianism in Colonial Bengal, 1850-1920" (Oxford UP, 2021)

Meat, Mercy, and Morality: Animals and Humanitarianism in Colonial Bengal, 1850-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Samiparna Samanta disentangles complex discourses around humanitarianism to understand the nature of British colonialism in India. Dr. Samanta contends that the colonial project of animal protection in late nineteenth-century Bengal mirrored an irony. Emerging notions of public health and debates on cruelty against animals exposed the disjunction between the claims of a benevolent Empire and a powerful imperial reality where the state constantly sought to discipline its subjects-both human and nonhuman. Centered around stories of animals as diseased, eaten, and overworked, the book shows how such contests over appropriate measures for controlling animals became part of wider discussions surrounding environmental ethics, diet, sanitation, and the politics of race and class. The author combines history with archive, arguing that colonial humanitarianism was not only
02/12/20231 hour 9 minutes 25 seconds
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John Zubrzycki, "Dethroned: The Downfall of India’s Princely States" (Hurst, 2024)

Post-independence India had a big problem–about 40% of its land wasn’t, well, India. Instead, this land was in the hands of the princely states: Rulers who had signed agreements accepting the rule of the British Empire, while getting a relatively free hand to rule their local jurisdictions. And these weren’t small states. Hyderabad–whose ruler made noises about independence, at least initially–had a larger income than Belgium, and was bigger than all but twenty UN member countries. But the power of the princes was so eroded over time that, by 1971, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi could remove one of the last remaining public privileges of the prince. How did India (and its neighbor Pakistan) win the battle against the princes? John Zubrzycki in his book Dethroned: The Downfall of India’s Princely States (Hurst, 2024) explains how New Delhi persuaded, encouraged–and browbeat–the princes to accept a future with India. In this interview, John and I talk about the major players in these
30/11/202359 minutes 28 seconds
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Richard Schoch, "Shakespeare’s House: A Window onto his Life and Legacy" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

In the wide realm of Shakespeare worship, the house in Stratford-upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born in 1564 – known colloquially as the 'Birthplace' – remains the chief shrine. It's not as romantic as Anne Hathaway's thatched cottage, it's not where he wrote any of his plays, and there's nothing inside the house that once belonged to Shakespeare himself. So why, for centuries, have people kept turning up on the doorstep? In Shakespeare’s House: A Window onto his Life and Legacy (Bloomsbury, 2023) Dr. Richard Schoch answers that question by examining the history of the Birthplace and by exploring how its changing fortunes over four centuries perfectly mirror the changing attitudes toward Shakespeare himself. Based on original research in the archives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, and featuring two black and white illustrated plate sections which draw on the wide array of material available at th
29/11/202359 minutes 26 seconds
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Henrietta Harrison, "The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators Between Qing China and the British Empire" (Princeton UP, 2021)

The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators Between Qing China and the British Empire (Princeton UP, 2021) is a fascinating history of China's relations with the West--told through the lives of two eighteenth-century translators. The 1793 British embassy to China, which led to Lord George Macartney's fraught encounter with the Qianlong emperor, has often been viewed as a clash of cultures fueled by the East's lack of interest in the West. In The Perils of Interpreting, Henrietta Harrison presents a more nuanced picture, ingeniously shifting the historical lens to focus on Macartney's two interpreters at that meeting--Li Zibiao and George Thomas Staunton. Who were these two men? How did they intervene in the exchanges that they mediated? And what did these exchanges mean for them? From Galway to Chengde, and from political intrigues to personal encounters, Harrison reassesses a pivotal moment in relations between China and Britain. She shows that there were Ch
28/11/20231 hour 1 minute 3 seconds
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Andrekos Varnava, "British Cyprus and the Long Great War, 1914-1925: Empire, Loyalties and Democratic Deficit" (Routledge, 2020)

Most of the Cypriot population, especially the lower classes, remained loyal to the British cause during the Great War and the island contributed significantly to the First World War, with men and materials. The British acknowledged this yet failed to institute political and economic reforms once the war ended. The obsession of Greek Cypriot elites with enosis (union with Greece), which only increased after the war, and the British dismissal of increasing the role of Cypriots in government, bringing the Christian and Muslim communities closer, and expanding franchise to all classes and sexes, led to serious problems down the line, not least the development of a democratic deficit. In British Cyprus and the Long Great War, 1914-1925: Empire, Loyalties and Democratic Deficit (Routledge, 2020), Andrekos Varnava studies the events and the impact of this crucial period. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newb
27/11/20231 hour 12 minutes 46 seconds
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G. H. Bennett, "The War for England's Shores: S-Boats and the Fight Against British Coastal Convoys" (US Naval Institute Press, 2023)

The War for England's Shores: S-Boats and the Fight Against British Coastal Convoys (US Naval Institute Press, 2023) by Dr. G. H. Bennett examines the Kriegsmarine's S-Boat offensive along the English Channel and the North Sea from 1940 to 1945, together with British and, later, Allied responses to nullify that threat. Very fast, and armed with torpedoes and mines, S-Boats posed a serious threat to the convoys that were forced to run close along the British coast on a daily basis. Despite the significance of this campaign and the real threat to the whole British war economy, it has been, until now, strangely overlooked by historians. Indeed, the book highlights issues around the maritime identity of those states and navies that see themselves in oceanic terms, at the expense of engagement with, and operations in, coastal waters. Using an array of archival materials from Britain, Germany and the USA, The War for England’s Shores examines why the Germans failed to make the most of this o
27/11/202359 minutes 26 seconds
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Jennifer Maclure, "The Feeling of Letting Die: Necroeconomics and Victorian Fiction" (Ohio State UP, 2023)

In The Feeling of Letting Die: Necroeconomics and Victorian Fiction (Ohio State UP, 2023), Jennifer MacLure explores how Victorian novels depict the feelings that both fuel and are produced by an economic system that lets some people die in service of the free market. MacLure argues that Victorian authors present capitalism’s death function as a sticking point, a series of contradictions, and a problem to solve as characters grapple with systems that allow, demand, and cause the deaths of their less fortunate fellows. Utilizing Achille Mbembe’s theorization of necropolitics, MacLure uses the term “necroeconomics,” positioning Victorian authors—even those who were deeply committed to liberal capitalism—as hyperaware of capitalism’s death function. Examining both canonical and lesser-known works by Elizabeth Gaskell, Harriet Martineau, Charles Dickens, William Morris, and George Eliot, The Feeling of Letting Dieshows capitalism as not straightforwardly imposed via economic policy but ins
25/11/20231 hour 3 minutes 25 seconds
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Sarah E. Stoller, "Inventing the Working Parent: Work, Gender, and Feminism in Neoliberal Britain" (MIT Press, 2023)

Sarah E. Stoller, Inventing the Working Parent: Work, Gender, and Feminism in Neoliberal Britain (MIT Press, 2023) is the first historical examination of working parenthood in the late twentieth century--and how the concepts of "family-friendly" work culture and "work-life balance" came to be. Since the 1980s, families across the developed West have lived through a revolution on a scale unprecedented since industrialization. With more mothers than ever before in paid work and the rise of the middle-class, dual-income household, we have entered a new era in the history of everyday life: the era of the working parent. In Inventing the Working Parent, Stoller charts the politics that shaped the creation of the phenomenon of working parenthood in Britain as it arose out of a new culture of work. Stoller begins with the first sustained efforts by feminists to mobilize politically on behalf of working parents in the late 1970s and concludes in the context of an emerging national political ag
24/11/202340 minutes 54 seconds
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Tabitha Stanmore, "Love Spells and Lost Treasure: Service Magic in England from the Later Middle Ages to the Early Modern Era" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Magic is ubiquitous across the world and throughout history. Yet if witchcraft is acknowledged as a persistent presence in the medieval and early modern eras, practical magic by contrast – performed to a useful end for payment, and actually more common than malign spellcasting – has been overlooked. In Love Spells and Lost Treasure: Service Magic in England from the Later Middle Ages to the Early Modern Era (Cambridge University Press, 2023), Dr. Tabitha Stanmore brings this world to light. Exploring many hundred instances of daily magical usage, and setting these alongside a range of imaginative and didactic literatures, Tabitha Stanmore demonstrates the entrenched nature of 'service' magic in premodern English society. This, she shows, was a type of spellcraft for needs that nothing else could address: one well established by the time of the infamous witch trials. The book explores perceptions of magical practitioners by clients and neighbours, and the way such magic was utilised by
24/11/202353 minutes 42 seconds
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Jenny Benham, "International Law in Europe, 700–1200" (Manchester UP, 2022)

Was there international law in the Middle Ages? Using treaties as its main source, International Law in Europe, 700-1200 (Manchester University Press, 2022) by Dr. Jenny Benham examines the extent to which such a system of rules was known and followed in the period 700 to 1200. It considers how consistently international legal rules were obeyed, whether there was a reliance on justification of action and whether the system had the capacity to resolve disputed questions of fact and law. The book further sheds light on issues such as compliance, enforcement, deterrence, authority and jurisdiction, challenging traditional ideas over their role and function in the history of international law. International law in Europe, 700-1200 will appeal to students and scholars of medieval Europe, international law and its history, as well as those with a more general interest in warfare, diplomacy and international relations. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book
24/11/20231 hour 13 minutes 7 seconds
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Ian Smith, "Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

In Black Shakespeare: Reading and Misreading Race (Cambridge University Press, 2022), Ian Smith urges readers of Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet to develop “racial literacy.” Through both wide social influences and specific professional pressures, Shakespearean critics have been taught to ignore, suppress, and explain away the racial thinking of the plays, a set of evasion strategies that inevitably have political and social ramifications in the contemporary United States. As Ian writes in the introduction, Black Shakespeare is intended to “shift the focus to conditions that shape readers, inform their epistemologies, and influence their reading practices” (3). Today’s guest is Ian Smith, Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Ian is the author of the previous monograph, Race and Rhetoric in the Renaissance: Barbarian Errors (Palgrave, 2009), as well as one of the most important articles in early modern literary criticism of the last twenty years, “O
24/11/20231 hour 10 minutes 35 seconds
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Ruth Dalton, "Living in Houses: A Personal History English Domestic Architecture" (Lund Humphries, 2022)

In Living in Houses: A Personal History of English Domestic Architecture (Lund Humphries, 2022), Dr. Ruth Dalton presents a rich and rewarding history of houses in England through the stories of nine houses, dating from the 1600s to the 1980s, which have been inhabited by the author, an architect and academic. Chronologically ordered, the book covers rural vernacular houses from the 17th Century, Georgian and Victorian townhouses, villas and converted industrial buildings, Edwardian semis and 20th-century council housing and mixed tenure new developments. Firstly reflecting on the author’s own experience of the house, each chapter then examines its historical context, before making a detailed analysis of the buildings design and layout, usefully illustrated with architectural drawings. Each chapter concludes with a useful discussion of lessons learnt from each house/historic period and compares them with contemporary houses which use similar materials, construction techniques or ideas.
22/11/202345 minutes 2 seconds
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Amy Harris, "Being Single in Georgian England: Families, Households, and the Unmarried" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Being Single in Georgian England: Families, Households, and the Unmarried (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Amy Harris is the first book-length exploration of what family life looked like, and how it was experienced, when viewed from the perspective of unmarried and childless family members. Using a microhistorical approach, Dr. Harris covers three generations of the famous musical and abolitionist Sharp family. The abundance of records the Sharps produced and preserved reveals how single family members influenced the household economy, marital decisions, childrearing practices, and conceptions about lineage and genealogy. The importance of childhood relationships and the life-long nature of siblinghood stand out as central aspects of Sharp family life, no matter their marital status. Along the way, Being Single explores humour, music, religious practice and belief, death and mourning, infertility, disability, slavery, abolition, philanthropy, and family memory. The Sharps' experi
21/11/20231 hour 10 minutes 47 seconds
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Joe Lane, "Networks, Innovation, and Knowledge: the North Staffordshire Potteries, 1750-1851" (U of London, 2023)

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the industrial district of the North Staffordshire Potteries dominated the British earthenware industry, producing local goods that sold in global markets. Over this time the region experienced consistent growth in output, an extreme spatial concentration of physical and human capital, and became home to some of the most famous Master Potters in the world. The Potteries was also characterised by a growing body of useful and practical knowledge about the materials, processes and skills required to produce world-leading earthenware. This thesis exploits this striking example of a highly concentrated and highly skilled craft-based industry during a period of sustained growth and development which offers a rich opportunity to contribute to several strands of economic and business history.  This thesis presents and analyses new empirical evidence based on trade directories to examine the organisational evolution of the district. It reconstruct
20/11/202349 minutes 31 seconds
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Thomas Blake Earle, "The Liberty to Take Fish: Atlantic Fisheries and Federal Power in Nineteenth-Century America" (Cornell UP, 2023)

In The Liberty to Take Fish: Atlantic Fisheries and Federal Power in Nineteenth-Century America (Cornell University Press, 2023), Dr. Thomas Blake Earle offers an incisive and nuanced history of the long American Revolution, describing how aspirations to political freedom coupled with the economic imperatives of commercial fishing roiled relations between the young United States and powerful Great Britain. The American Revolution left the United States with the "liberty to take fish" from the waters of the North Atlantic. Indispensable to the economic health of the new nation, the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks, the Bay of Fundy, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence quickly became symbols of American independence in an Atlantic world dominated by Great Britain. The fisheries issue was a near-constant concern in American statecraft that impinged upon everything, from Anglo-American relations, to the operation of American federalism, and even to the nature of the marine environment. Dr. Earle
19/11/202353 minutes 27 seconds
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Christopher Lazarski, "Lord Acton for Our Time" (Northern Illinois UP, 2023)

Extracting lessons for our current age, Christopher Lazarski focuses on liberty--how Acton understood it, what he thought was its foundation and necessary ingredients, and the history of its development in Western Civilization. Acton is known as a historian, or even the historian, of liberty and as an ardent liberal, but there is confusion as to how he understood liberty and what kind of liberalism he professed. Lord Acton for Our Time (Northern Illinois University Press, 2023) provides an introduction that presents essentials about Acton's life and recovers his theory of liberalism. Lazarski analyzes Acton's type of liberalism, probing whether it can offer a solution to the crisis of liberal democracy in our own era. For Acton, liberty is the freedom to do what we ought to do, both as individuals and as citizens, and his writings contain valuable lessons for today. Christopher Lazarski is Professor of Politics and History at Lazarski University. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor o
18/11/202355 minutes 26 seconds
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Arupjyoti Saikia, "The Quest for Modern Assam: A History, 1942-2000" (India Allen Lane, 2023)

The northeast Indian state of Assam has had a complex history. As independence loomed, Assam was a large British province, bordering the fellow British colony of Burma and covering a large segment of India’s northeast. Today’s Assam is much smaller: First partition cut Assam off from the rest of India, with just a tiny “chicken neck” of land connecting the state with India proper. Then decades of tension between the Assamese and minority groups led to new states being created from within its borders: Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram, to name a few. Arupjyoti Saikia takes on the task of explaining six decades of Assam history in his latest book, The Quest for Modern Assam: A History, 1942-2000 (India Allen Lane, 2023) In this interview, Arupjyoti and I talk about Assam’s history from the Second World War and the decades since independence, including some of the wild schemes the British tried to apply to the Indian northeast, and why it’s important to understand Indian history through its
16/11/202349 minutes 31 seconds
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Jonathan Greenaway, "Theology, Horror and Fiction: A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

When one thinks of your typical horror movie and it’s usual imagery, a number of tropes may come forward. Graveyards behind old cathedrals, crucifixes and holy water, possessions and exorcisms. The uniting thread of all of these is that they are all tied to the religious. One might then wonder if there is some underlying thread of meaning beneath the facade. Addressing this topic directly is Jonathan Greenaway in his book Theology, Horror and Fiction: A Reading of the Gothic Nineteenth Century (Bloomsbury, 2022). Surveying a number of well known works from this period, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Bronte sisters all the way up to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Greenaway finds works filled with various references and discussions of religious scripture, imagery and themes. What’s more, he’s able to follow these various occasions down into deeper territory, finding a subterranean conversation in much of this literature on themes of embodiment,
15/11/202343 minutes 17 seconds
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Rebecca Hardie, "Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, and Women in Tenth-Century England" (Medieval Institute Publications, 2021)

Æthelflæd (c. 870–918), political leader, military strategist, and administrator of law, is one of the most important ruling women in English history. Despite her multifaceted roles and family legacy, however, her reign and relationship with other women in tenth-century England have never been the subject of a book-length study.  This interdisciplinary collection of essays redresses a notable hiatus in scholarship of early medieval England. Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, and Women in Tenth-Century England (Medieval Institute Publications, 2021)argues for a reassessment of women’s political, military, literary, and domestic agency. It invites deeper reflection on the female kinships, networks, and communities that give meaning to Æthelflæd’s life, and through this shows how medieval history can invite new engagements with the past. Rebecca Hardie is a postdoctoral researcher at Freie Universität, Berlin, and the Managing Editor of the Living Handbook of Temporal Communities in the Exc
14/11/202351 minutes 1 second
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Don Hollway, "Battle for the Island Kingdom: The Struggle for England's Destiny 1000-1066" (Osprey, 2023)

In a saga reminiscent of Game of Thrones and Battle for the Island Kingdom: The Struggle for England's Destiny 1000-1066 (Osprey, 2023) reveals the life-and-death struggle for power which changed the course of history. The six decades leading up to 1066 were defined by bloody wars and intrigues, in which three peoples vied for supremacy over the island kingdom. In this epic retelling, Don Hollway (The Last Viking) recounts the clashes of Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and Normans, their warlords and their conniving queens. It begins with the Viking Cnut the Great, forging three nations into his North Sea Empire while his Saxon wife Aelfgifu rules in his stead and schemes for England's throne. Her archenemy is Emma of Normandy, widow of Saxon king Aethelred, claiming Cnut's realm in exchange for her hand in marriage. Their sons become rivals, pawns in their mothers' wars until they can secure their own destinies. And always in the shadows is Godwin of Wessex, playing all sides to become the powe
12/11/202355 minutes 16 seconds
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Clive Young, "Unlocking Scots: The Secret Life of the Scots Language" (Luath Press, 2023)

In Unlocking Scots: The Secret Life of the Scots Language (Luath, 2023), Dr. Clive Young sets out to uncover the secret life of Scots – the centuries of vibrant debate and unconscious bilingualism hidden beneath slang and touristy tea-towels. From 19th-century dictionaries to Twitter rammies, Dr. Young explores the evolution, suppression, and potential revitalisation of Scots. He not only investigates its troubled past, but also looks towards the future with hope and a practical action plan that will allow everyone, however estranged from the mither tongue, to keep it hale and hearty for generations to come. He investigates the deep history of Scots and the linguistic tension surrounding those who naturally spoke it and reflects on how Scots has now been saturated in politics – and what that means for the future of Scots speakers. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation an
12/11/202354 minutes 37 seconds
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Elizabeth DeYoung, "Power, Politics and Territory in the ‘New Northern Ireland’" (Liverpool UP, 2023)

In the wake of the Good Friday Agreement, the redevelopment of the former Girdwood Army Barracks in North Belfast was hailed as a ‘symbol of hope’ for Northern Ireland. It was a major investment in a former conflict zone and an internationally significant peacebuilding project. Instead of adhering to the tenets of the Agreement, sectarianism dominated the regeneration agenda. Throughout the process, politicians, community groups and paramilitaries wrangled over the site’s future, and territorial contest won out over housing need. After eleven years of negotiation and £11.7 million, the EU-funded Girdwood Community Hub opened its doors to the public in 2016, but its impact has been underwhelming. The Hub’s redevelopment is a microcosm of the peace process itself, and the ways in which post-Agreement politics have failed to deliver a ‘shared future’ for the people of Northern Ireland, twenty-five years on. Elizabeth DeYoung's book Power, Politics and Territory in the ‘New Northern Irelan
11/11/202330 minutes 18 seconds
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Helen Fry, "Women in Intelligence: The Hidden History of Two World Wars" (Yale UP, 2023)

From the twentieth century onward, women took on an extraordinary range of roles in intelligence, defying the conventions of their time. Across both world wars, far from being a small part of covert operations, women ran spy networks and escape lines, parachuted behind enemy lines, and interrogated prisoners. And, back in Bletchley and Whitehall, women’s vital administrative work in MI offices kept the British war engine running. In this major, panoramic history, Helen Fry looks at the rich and varied work women undertook as civilians and in uniform. From spies in the Belgian network “La Dame Blanche,” knitting coded messages into jumpers, to those who interpreted aerial images and even ran entire sections, Fry shows just how crucial women were in the intelligence mission. Filled with hitherto unknown stories, Women in Intelligence: The Hidden History of Two World Wars (Yale UP, 2023) places new research on record for the first time and showcases the inspirational contributions of thes
07/11/202351 minutes 20 seconds
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Wm. Matthew Kennedy, "The Imperial Commonwealth: Australia and the Project of Empire, 1867-1914" (Manchester UP, 2023)

The Imperial Commonwealth: Australia and the Project of Empire, 1867-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. Wm. Matthew Kennedy tells the story of how from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Australian settler colonists mobilised their unique settler experiences to develop their own vision of what 'empire' was and could be. Reinterpreting their histories and attempting to divine their futures with a much heavier concentration on racialized visions of humanity, white Australian settlers came to believe that their whiteness as well as their Britishness qualified them for an equal voice in the running of Britain's imperial project. Through asserting their case, many soon claimed that, as newly minted citizens of a progressive and exemplary Australian Commonwealth, white settlers such as themselves were actually better suited to the modern task of empire. Such a settler political cosmology with empire at its center ultimately led Australians to claim an empire of their own in the
06/11/20231 hour 59 seconds
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Rory Coulter, "Housing and Life Course Dynamics: Changing Lives, Places and Inequalities" (Policy Press, 2023)

Deepening inequalities and wider processes of demographic, economic, and social change are altering how people across the Global North move between homes and neighbourhoods over the lifespan. Housing and Life Course Dynamics: Changing Lives, Places, and Inequalities (Policy Press, 2023) presents a life course framework for understanding how the changing dynamics of people's family, education, employment, and health experiences are deeply intertwined with ongoing shifts in housing behaviour and residential pathways. Particular attention is paid to how these processes help to drive uneven patterns of population change within and across neighbourhoods and localities. Integrating the latest research from multiple disciplines, the author shows how housing and life course dynamics are together reshaping 21st-century inequalities in ways that demand greater attention from scholars and public policy makers. Rory Coulter is a specialist in the socio-spatial dynamics of cities, with a particular
06/11/202350 minutes 42 seconds
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David Veevers, "The Great Defiance: How the World Took on the British Empire" (Ebury Press, 2023)

The story of the British Empire is a familiar one: Britain came, it saw, it conquered, forging a glorious world empire upon which the sun never set. In fact, far from being the tale of a single nation imposing its will upon the world, the expanding British Empire frequently found itself frustrated by the power and tenacious resistance of the Indigenous and non-European people it encountered. From gruelling wars in Ireland to the failure to curtail North African Corsair states, all the way to the collapse of commercial operations in East Asia, British attempts to create an imperial enterprise often ended in disaster and even defeat.  In The Great Defiance: How the World Took on the British Empire (Ebury Press, 2023), David Veevers looks beyond the myths of triumph and into the realities of British misadventures in the early days of Empire, meeting the extraordinary Indigenous and non-European people across the world who were the real forces to be reckoned with. From the Indian Emperors
04/11/20231 hour 20 minutes 55 seconds
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Empires, States, Corporations: A Discussion with Historians Philip J. Stern and Quinn Slobodian

Adam Smith wrote that, “Political economy belongs to no nation; it is of no country: it is the science of the rules for the production, the accumulation, the distribution, and the consumption of wealth.” However Adam Smith regarded the science of political economy, in practical terms, one is quite hard pressed to find a case where governments—be it an empire, republic, or nation—were completely left out of the picture. At least, that is how it’s been historically. Questions about how people and other types of entities organize and generate capital, AND the role that governments play in all of this, fill libraries. The ramifications of the dynamics and rules surrounding money have proved so consequential—and increasingly so, in our increasingly technologized world—that it is no surprise that historians have devoted much energy to the study of political economy. Political economy, in the broadest terms, is the subject of our conversation today. Today on History Ex we put two recent books
03/11/20231 hour 5 minutes 29 seconds
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Joseph Brady and Paul Ferguson, "Dublin: Mapping the City" (Birlinn, 2023)

Maps are essential tools in finding our way around, but they also tell stories and are great depositories of information. Until the twentieth century and the arrival of aerial images, a map was the best way of getting a sense of what a city looked like on the ground. Dublin: Mapping the City (Birlinn, 2023) by Dr. Joseph Brady and Paul Ferguson presents a carefully chosen selection of maps that traces the growth and development of Dublin from the early seventeenth century to the present day, offering a fascinating snap-shot of how the city has changed over time. Whilst the maps recount the big stories – the impact of major forces such as the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 or the effects of the Easter Rising in 1916 and the Civil War in 1922 – they also tell the smaller tales such as the creation of a colony of Irish speakers in the late 1920s and the arrival of parking meters and how they changed how people could use the city centre. Together with maps that reveal much about the f
31/10/20231 hour 5 minutes 21 seconds
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Leonie Hannan, "A Culture of Curiosity: Science in the Eighteenth-Century Home" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Leonie Hannan's book Culture of Curiosity: Science in the Eighteenth Century Home (Manchester University Press, 2023) explores the practice of scientific enquiry as it took place in the eighteenth-century home. While histories of science have identified the genteel household as an important site for scientific experiment, they have tended to do so via biographies of important men of science. Using a wide range of historical source material, from household accounts and inventories to letters and print culture, this book investigates the tools within reach of early modern householders in their search for knowledge. It considers the under-explored question of the home as a site of knowledge production and does so by viewing scientific enquiry as one of many interrelated domestic practices. It shows that knowledge production and consumption were necessary facets of domestic life and that the eighteenth-century home generated practices that were integral to 'Enlightenment' enquiry. Jana By
30/10/202357 minutes
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Simone Varriale, "Coloniality and Meritocracy in Unequal EU Migrations: Intersecting Inequalities in Post-2008 Italian Migration" (Bristol UP, 2023)

How do migrants make sense of migration? In Coloniality and Meritocracy in unequal EU migrations: Intersecting Inequalities in Post-2008 Italian Migration (Bristol UP, 2023), Simone Varriale, Lecturer in Sociology at Loughborough University, explores the experiences of Italian migrants to Britain to critique notions of meritocracy. Combining a rich set of interview data with a deep understanding of theories of colonialism, and inequality, the book rethinks the recent history of migration in the EU. The book challenges existing narratives of both who is a migrant and the meaning of migration, as well as critiquing stereotypes associated with Northern and Southern Europe. The book is essential reading across the social sciences and humanities, as well as for anyone wishing to understand inequality and migration today. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Manchester. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our s
29/10/202338 minutes 21 seconds
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Utsa Mukherjee, "Race, Class, Parenting and Children's Leisure: Children's Leisurescapes and Parenting Cultures in Middle-Class British Indian Families" (Policy Press, 2022)

Children's leisure lives are changing, with increasing dominance of organised activities and screen-based leisure. These shifts have reconfigured parenting practices, too. However, our current understandings of these processes are race-blind and based mostly on the experiences of white middle-class families. Drawing on an innovative study of middle-class British Indian families, this book brings children's and parents' voices to the forefront and bridges childhood studies, family studies and leisure studies to theorise children's leisure from a fresh perspective. Demonstrating the salience of both race and class in shaping leisure cultures within middle-class racialised families, Utsa Mukherjee's Race, Class, Parenting and Children's Leisure: Children's Leisurescapes and Parenting Cultures in Middle-Class British Indian Families (Policy Press, 2022) is an invaluable contribution to key sociological debates around leisure, childhoods and parenting ideologies. Shu Wan is currently matric
29/10/202337 minutes 54 seconds
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Luke Moffett, "Reparations and War: Finding Balance in Repairing the Past" (Oxford UP, 2023)

For thousands of years, reparations have been used to secure the end of war and to alleviate its deleterious consequences. While human rights law establishes that victims have a right to reparations, reparations are not always feasible and are often difficult to deliver.  In Reparations and War: Finding Balance in Repairing the Past (Oxford UP, 2023), Professor Luke Moffett used interviews with hundreds of victims, ex-combatants, government officials, and civil society actors from six post-conflict countries to examine the history, theoretical justifications, and practical challenges of implementing reparations after war. In his engaging interview with Lavinia Stan, Moffett draws on his own experience growing up in Northern Ireland to explain how reparations are related to transitional justice. Listen to him explaining what reparations can (and cannot do), how they can be politically manipulated, and how they achieve justice for the victims. Lavinia Stan is a professor of political sci
27/10/202357 minutes 49 seconds
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Mariana-Cecilia Velazquez, "Cultural Representations of Piracy in England, Spain, and the Caribbean" (Routledge, 2023)

Mariana-Cecilia Velazquez's book Cultural Representations of Piracy in England, Spain, and the Caribbean: Travelers, Traders, and Traitors, 1570 to 1604 (Routledge, 2023) examines the concept of piracy as an instrument for the advancement of legal, economic, and political agendas associated with early modern imperial conflicts in the Caribbean. Drawing on historical accounts, literary texts, legal treatises, and maps, the book traces the visual and narrative representations of Sir Francis Drake, who serves as a case study to understand the various usages of the terms "pirate" and "corsair." Through a comparative analysis, the book considers the connotations of the categories related to maritime predation—pirate, corsair, buccaneer, and filibuster—and nationalistic and religious denominations—Lutheran, Catholic, heretic, Spaniard, English, and Creole—to argue that the flexible usage of these terms corresponds to unequal colonial and imperial relations and ideological struggles. Jana Bya
23/10/202345 minutes 55 seconds
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Rosie Harte, "The Royal Wardrobe: Peek into the Wardrobes of History's Most Fashionable Royals" (Headline, 2023)

Fashion for the royal family has long been one of their most powerful weapons. Every item of their clothing is imbued with meaning, history and majesty, telling a complex tale of the individuals who wore them and the houses they represented. The Royal Wardrobe: Peek Into the Wardrobes of History's Most Fashionable Royals (Headline, 2023) by Rosie Harte introduces readers to this world. From the draping of a fabric to the arrangements of jewels, the clothing worn by royals is anything but coincidental. King at just nine years old, Edward VI’s clothes were padded to make him seem stronger and more manly; and the ever-conscious Elizabeth II insisted her coronation gown include all the representative flora of the commonwealth nations, and not just that of the United Kingdom. Yet reigning monarchs are not the only ones whose fashion sensibilities could mean make or break for the crown. Original and enlightening, Rosie Harte’s complete history delicately weaves together the fashion faux pas
22/10/202350 minutes 3 seconds
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Jeremy Land, "Colonial Ports, Global Trade, and the Roots of the American Revolution (1700-1776)" (Brill, 2023)

Jeremy Land's book Colonial Ports, Global Trade, and the Roots of the American Revolution (1700-1776) (Brill, 2023) takes a long-run view of the global maritime trade of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia from 1700 to American Independence in 1776. Land argues that the three cities developed large, global networks of maritime commerce and exchange that created tension between merchants and the British Empire which sought to enforce mercantilist policies to constrain American trade to within the British Empire. Colonial merchants created and then expanded their mercantile networks well beyond the confines of the British Empire. This trans-imperial trade (often considered smuggling by British authorities) formed the roots of what became known as the American Revolution. Bernardo Batiz-Lazo is currently straddling between Newcastle and Mexico City. You can find him on twitter on issues related to business history of banking, fintech, payments and other musings. Not always in that order. @
18/10/202343 minutes 48 seconds
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Livia Arndal Woods, "Pregnancy in the Victorian Novel" (Ohio State UP, 2023)

In Pregnancy in the Victorian Novel (Ohio State University Press, 2023), Livia Arndal Woods traces the connections between literary treatments of pregnancy and the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth occurring over the nineteenth century. In the first book-length study of the topic, Woods uses the problem of pregnancy in the Victorian novel (in which pregnancy is treated modestly as a rule and only rarely as an embodied experience) to advocate for "somatic reading," a practice attuned to impressions of the body on the page and in our own messy lived experiences. Examining works by Emily Brontë, Charlotte Mary Yonge, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and others, Woods considers instances of pregnancy tied to representations of immodesty, poverty, and medical diagnosis. These representations, Woods argues, should be understood in the arc of Anglo-American modernity and its aftershocks, connecting back to early modern witch trials and forward to the criminalization of w
18/10/202339 minutes 8 seconds
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Vikram Visana, "Uncivil Liberalism: Labour, Capital and Commercial Society in Dadabhai Naoroji’s Political Thought" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Uncivil liberalism: Labour, Capital and Commercial Society in Dadabhai Naoroji's Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2023) by Dr. Vikram Visana studies how ideas of liberty from the colonised South claimed universality in the North. Recovering the political theory of Dadabhai Naoroji, India's pre-eminent liberal, this book offers an original global history of this process by focussing on Naoroji's preoccupation with social interdependence and civil peace in an age of growing cultural diversity and economic inequality. Dr. Visana shows how Naoroji used political economy to critique British liberalism's incapacity for civil peace by linking periods of communal rioting in colonial Bombay with the Parsi minority's economic decline. He responded by innovating his own liberalism, characterised by labour rights, economic republicanism and social interdependence maintained by freely contracting workers. Significantly, the author draws attention to how Naoroji seeded 'Western' thinke
18/10/20231 hour 10 minutes 45 seconds
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Onyeka Nubia, "England’s Other Countrymen: Black Tudor Society" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

The Tudor period remains a source of timeless fascination, with endless novels, TV programmes and films depicting the period in myriad ways. And yet our image of the Tudor era remains overwhelmingly white. This ground-breaking and provocative new book seeks to redress the balance: revealing not only how black presence in Tudor England was far greater than has previously been recognised, but that Tudor conceptions of race were far more complex than we have been led to believe. Onyeka Nubia's original research shows that Tudors from many walks of life regularly interacted with people of African descent, both at home and abroad, revealing a genuine pragmatism towards race and acceptance of difference. Nubia also rejects the influence of the 'Curse of Ham' myth on Tudor thinking, persuasively arguing that many of the ideas associated with modern racism are in fact relatively recent developments. England’s Other Countrymen: Black Tudor Society (Bloomsbury, 2019) is a bravura and eloquent fo
17/10/20231 hour 7 minutes 38 seconds
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Ian Jones, "Using the Past: Authenticity, Reliability, and the Role of Archives in Barclays PLC's Use of the Past Strategies" (U Liverpool, 2021)

Recent scholarship in organisation studies has begun to address how organisations perceive and use their history. However, how organisations preserve and access their history, and how this affects how they are able to use their history is less researched. This thesis investigates how Barclays Group Archives (BGA) contribute to Barclays PLC delivering its strategic objectives. It asks, how does BGA, as a specific unit of the organisation, facilitate the delivery of Barclays PLC's strategic objectives? The researcher was embedded in the archives, enabling the gathering of observational data on how BGA operate as well as a unique level of access to archival organisational records. These were used to target and gain access to Barclays PLC employees to conduct interviews to ascertain how they used BGA's resources and what benefits they felt BGA brought.  Using interviews, observation, and other qualitative research methods, Ian Jones introduces archival science theory to the study of how or
17/10/202342 minutes 4 seconds
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Javier Garcia Oliva and Helen Hall, "Constitutional Culture, Independence, and Rights: Insights from Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia" (U Toronto Press, 2023)

In Constitutional Culture, Independence, and Rights: Insights from Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia (University of Toronto Press, 2023), Dr. Javier García Oliva and Dr. Helen Hall coin the term "constitutional culture" to encapsulate the collective rules and expectations that govern the collective life within a jurisdiction. Significantly, these shared norms have both legal and social elements, including matters as diverse as standards of parenting, the modus operandi of police officers, and taboos around sexuality. Using Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia as case studies, the book delves into what these constitutional battles mean for the rights, identity, and needs of everyday people, and it powerfully demonstrates why the hypothetical future independence of these regions would have far-reaching practical consequences, beyond the realm of political structures and academic theory. The book does not present a magic bullet to resolve debates around independence – this is not its purpose, an
17/10/202350 minutes 48 seconds
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Christopher Phillips, "Civilian Specialists at War: Britain's Transport Experts and the First World War" (U London Press, 2020)

World War I was the first great general conflict to be fought between highly industrial societies able to manufacture and transport immense quantities of goods over land and sea. Yet the armies of the war were too vast in scale, their movements too complex, and the infrastructure upon which they depended too specialized to be operated by professional soldiers alone. In Civilian Specialists at War: Britain's Transport Experts and the First World War (U London Press, 2020), Christopher Phillips examines the relationship between industrial society and industrial warfare through the lens of Britain's transport experts. Phillips analyzes the multiple connections between the army, the government, and the senior executives of some of prewar Britain's largest industrial enterprises, revealing that civilian transport experts were a key component of Britain's strategies in World War I. This book also details the application of recognizably civilian technologies and methods to the prosecution of
17/10/202343 minutes 42 seconds
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Michael Taylor, "The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery" (Bodley Head, 2021)

In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, but for the next quarter of a century, despite heroic and bloody rebellions, more than 700,000 people in the British colonies remained enslaved. And when a renewed abolitionist campaign was mounted, making slave ownership the defining political and moral issue of the day, emancipation was fiercely resisted by the powerful 'West India Interest'. Supported by nearly every leading figure of the British establishment - including Canning, Peel and Gladstone, The Times and Spectator - the Interest ensured that slavery survived until 1833 and that when abolition came at last, compensation worth billions in today's money was given not to the enslaved but to the slaveholders, entrenching the power of their families to shape modern Britain to this day. Drawing on major new research, Michael Taylor's The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery (Bodley Head, 2021) provides a gripping narrative acc
15/10/20231 hour 19 minutes 33 seconds
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Lucy Fulford, "The Exiled: Empire, Immigration and the Ugandan Asian Exodus" (Coronet, 2023)

Uganda, August 1972. President Idi Amin makes a shocking pronouncement – the country’s South Asian population is being expelled. They have ninety days to leave. After packing scant possessions and countless memories, 50,000 Ugandan Asians vied for limited space in countries including Canada, India and the United Kingdom. More than 28,000 expellees from Britain’s former colony arrived in the UK and began building new lives – but their incredible stories have, until now, remained largely hidden. Fifty years on from the exodus, The Exiled: Empire, Immigration and the Ugandan Asian Exodus (Coronet, 2023) by Lucy Fulford draws on first-hand interviews and testimonies, including from the author’s family, to illuminate a time of painful alienation and incredible courage. As an entire people stepped into the unknown, a global diaspora was born, and the fate of the United Kingdom changed forever. Journeying across continents and decades, this staggering work of reportage illuminates an essentia
13/10/202352 minutes 59 seconds
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Helen Rappaport, "In Search of Mary Seacole: The Making of a Black Cultural Icon" (Pegasus Books, 2022)

Raised in Jamaica, Mary Seacole first came to England in the 1850s after working in Panama. She wanted to volunteer as a nurse and aide during the Crimean War. When her services were rejected, she financed her own expedition to Balaclava, where her reputation for her nursing—and for her compassion—became almost legendary. Popularly known as ‘Mother Seacole’, she was the most famous Black celebrity of her generation—an extraordinary achievement in Victorian Britain. She regularly mixed with illustrious royal and military patrons and they, along with grateful war veterans, helped her recover financially when she faced bankruptcy. However, after her death in 1881, she was largely forgotten. More recently, her profile has been revived and her reputation lionized, with a statue of her standing outside St Thomas's Hospital in London and her portrait—rediscovered by the author—now on display in the National Portrait Gallery. In Search of Mary Seacole is the fruit of almost twenty years of res
13/10/20231 hour 12 minutes 43 seconds
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James J. A. Blair, "Salvaging Empire: Sovereignty, Natural Resources, and Environmental Science in the South Atlantic" (Cornell UP, 2023)

Salvaging Empire: Sovereignty, Natural Resources, and Environmental Science in the South Atlantic (Cornell University Press, 2023) by Dr. James J. A. Blair probes the historical roots and current predicaments of a twenty-first century settler colony seeking to control an uncertain future through resource management and environmental science. Four decades after a violent 1982 war between the United Kingdom and Argentina reestablished British authority over the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas in Spanish), a commercial fishing boom and offshore oil discoveries have intensified the sovereignty dispute over the South Atlantic archipelago. Scholarly literature on the South Atlantic focuses primarily on military history of the 1982 conflict. However, contested claims over natural resources have now made this disputed territory a critical site for examining the wider relationship between imperial sovereignty and environmental governance. Dr. Blair argues that by claiming self-determination and
13/10/202346 minutes 8 seconds
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Julian Goodare and Martha McGill, "The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Julian Goodare and Martha McGill's edited volume The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland (Manchester UP, 2023) is about other worlds and the supernatural beings, from angels to fairies, that inhabited them. It is about divination, prophecy, visions and trances. And it is about the cultural, religious, political and social uses to which people in Scotland put these supernatural themes between 1500 and 1800. The supernatural consistently provided Scots with a way of understanding topics such as the natural environment, physical and emotional wellbeing, political events and visions of past and future. In exploring the early modern supernatural, the book has much to reveal about how men and women in this period thought about, debated and experienced the world around them. Comprising twelve chapters by an international range of scholars, The supernatural in early modern Scotland discusses both popular and elite understandings of the supernatural. To find the card game Martha and Jana talk
09/10/202339 minutes
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Arunima Datta, "Waiting on Empire: A History of Indian Travelling Ayahs in Britain" (Oxford UP, 2023)

The expansion of the British Empire facilitated movement across the globe for both the colonizers and the colonized. Waiting on Empire: A History of Indian Travelling Ayahs in Britain (OUP, 2023) focuses on a largely forgotten group in this story of movement and migration: South Asian travelling ayahs (servants and nannies), who travelled between India and Britain and often found themselves destitute in Britain as they struggled to find their way home to South Asia. Delving into the stories of individual ayahs from a wide range of sources, Arunima Datta illuminates their brave struggle to assert their rights, showing how ayahs negotiated their precarious employment conditions, capitalized on social sympathy amongst some sections of the British population, and confronted or collaborated with various British institutions and individuals to demand justice and humane treatment. In doing so, Datta re-imagines the experience of waiting. Waiting is a recurrent human experience, yet it is ofte
07/10/20231 hour 12 minutes 11 seconds
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Charlotte Gray, "Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt" (Simon & Schuster, 2023)

Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano (later to become the mother of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Jennie Jerome (later to become the mother of Winston Churchill) refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. Instead, both women concentrated much of their energies on enabling their sons to reach the epicentre of political power on two continents. Set against one hundred years of history, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt (Simon & Schuster, 2023) by Dr. Charlotte Gray is a study in loyalty and resilience. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are too often presented as lesser figures in the backdrop of history rather than as two remarkable individuals who were key in shaping the characters of the sons who adored them and in preparing them for leadership on the world stage. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on
07/10/202350 minutes 1 second
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Benjamin Savill, "England and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: Papal Privileges in European Perspective, C. 680-1073" (Oxford UP, 2023)

England and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages: Papal Privileges in European Perspective, c. 680-1073 (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Benjamin Savill provides the first dedicated, book-length study of interactions between England and the papacy throughout the early middle ages. It takes as its lens the extant English record of papal privileges: legal diplomas drawn-up on metres-long scrolls of Egyptian papyrus, acquired by pilgrim-petitioners within the city of Rome, and then brought back to Britain to negotiate local claims and conflicts. How, why, and when did English petitioners choose to invoke the distant authority of Rome in this way, and how did this compare to what was taking place elsewhere in Europe? How successful were these efforts, and how were they remembered in later centuries? By using these still-understudied papal documents to reassess what we know of the worlds of Bede, the Mercian Supremacy, the West Saxon 'Kingdom of the English', and the Norman Conquest—lo
06/10/20231 hour 2 minutes 57 seconds
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S. D. Chrostowska, "Utopia in the Age of Survival: Between Myth and Politics" (Stanford UP, 2021)

A pathbreaking exploration of the fate of utopia in our troubled times, this book shows how the historically intertwined endeavors of utopia and critique might be leveraged in response to humanity's looming existential challenges. Utopia in the Age of Survival: Between Myth and Politics (Stanford UP, 2021) makes the case that critical social theory needs to reinstate utopia as a speculative myth. At the same time the left must reassume utopia as an action-guiding hypothesis—that is, as something still possible. S. D. Chrostowska looks to the vibrant, visionary mid-century resurgence of embodied utopian longings and projections in Surrealism, the Situationist International, and critical theorists writing in their wake, reconstructing utopia's link to survival through to the earliest, most radical phase of the French environmental movement. Survival emerges as the organizing concept for a variety of democratic political forms that center the corporeality of desire in social movements con
06/10/202356 minutes 42 seconds
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Robert P. Watson, "When Washington Burned: The British Invasion of the Capital and a Nation's Rise from the Ashes" (Georgetown UP, 2023)

Perhaps no other single day in US history was as threatening to the survival of the nation as August 24, 1814, when British forces captured Washington, DC. This unique moment might have significantly altered the nation’s path forward, but the event and the reasons why it happened are little remembered by most Americans.  Robert P. Watson's book When Washington Burned: The British Invasion of the Capital and a Nation's Rise from the Ashes (Georgetown UP, 2023) narrates and examines the British campaign and American missteps that led to the fall of Washington during the War of 1812. Watson analyzes the actions of key figures on both sides, such as President James Madison and General William Winder on the US side and Rear Admiral George Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross on the British side. He pinpoints the reasons the campaign was such a disaster for the United States but also tells the redeeming stories of the courageous young clerks and the bold first lady, Dolley Madison, who ris
05/10/202358 minutes 14 seconds
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Nan Turner, "Clothing Goes to War: Creativity Inspired by Scarcity in World War II" (Intellect Books, 2022)

Clothing Goes to War: Creativity Inspired by Scarcity in World War II (Intellect, 2022) by Nan Turner is the story of clothing use when manufacturing for civilians nearly stopped and raw materials and workers across the globe were shifted to war work. Governments mandated rationing programmes in many countries to regulate the limited supply, in hopes that the burden of austerity would be equally shared. Unfortunately, as the war progressed and resources dwindled, neither ration tickets nor money could buy what did not exist on store shelves. Many people had to get by with their already limited wardrobes, often impacted by the global economic depression of the previous decade. Creativity, courage and perseverance came into play in caring for clothing using handicraft skills including sewing, knitting, mending, darning and repurposing to make limited wardrobes last during long years of austerity and deprivation. This fascinating page-turner is the first cross-cultural account of the diff
05/10/202350 minutes 34 seconds
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Angelina Chin, "Unsettling Exiles: Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong and the Southern Periphery During the Cold War" (Columbia UP, 2023)

The conventional story of Hong Kong celebrates the people who fled the mainland in the wake of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. In this telling, migrants thrived under British colonial rule, transforming Hong Kong into a cosmopolitan city and an industrial and financial hub. Unsettling Exiles: Chinese Migrants in Hong Kong and the Southern Periphery During the Cold War (Columbia UP, 2023) recasts identity formation in Hong Kong, demonstrating that the complexities of crossing borders shaped the city’s uneasy place in the Sinophone world. Angelina Y. Chin foregrounds the experiences of the many people who passed through Hong Kong without settling down or finding a sense of belonging, including refugees, deportees, “undesirable” residents, and members of sea communities. She emphasizes that flows of people did not stop at Hong Kong’s borders but also bled into neighboring territories such as Taiwan and Macau. Chin develops the concept of the “Southern Peripher
05/10/20231 hour 34 minutes 31 seconds
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Laura Gowing, "Ingenious Trade: Women and Work in Seventeenth-Century London" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Ingenious Trade: Women and Work in Seventeenth-Century London (Cambridge University Press, 2021) by Dr. Laura Gowing recovers the intricate stories of the young women who came to London in the late seventeenth century to earn their own living, most often with the needle, and the mistresses who set up shops and supervised their apprenticeships. Through an intensive and creative archival reconstruction, Dr. Gowing recovers the significance of apprenticeship in the lives of girls and women, and puts women's work at the heart of the revolution in worldly goods. Tracking women through city archives, Dr. Gowing reveals the extent and complexity of their contracts, training and skills, from adolescence to old age. In contrast to the informal, unstructured and marginalised aspects of women's work, this book uses legal records and guild archives to reconstruct women's negotiations with city regulations and bureaucracy. It shows single women, wives and widows establishing themselves in guilds bo
05/10/202341 minutes 28 seconds
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Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson, "Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution" (Polity, 2023)

In their remarkable new book Slavery, Capitalism, and the Industrial Revolution (Polity, 2023), Professor Maxine Berg and Professor Pat Hudson “follow the money” to document in revealing detail the role of slavery in the making of Britain’s industrial revolution. Slavery was not just a source of wealth for a narrow circle of slave owners who built grand country houses and filled them with luxuries. The forces set in motion by the slave and plantation trades seeped into almost every aspect of the economy and society. In textile mills, iron and copper smelting, steam power, and financial institutions, slavery played a crucial part. Things we might think far removed from the taint of slavery, like 18th century fashions for indigo- patterned cloth, sweet tea, snuff boxes, mahogany furniture, ceramics and silverware, were intimately connected. Even London’s role as a centre for global finance was partly determined by the slave trade as insurance, financial trading and mortgage markets were
04/10/20231 hour 38 minutes 37 seconds
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Adrian Chastain Weimer, "A Constitutional Culture: New England and the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023)

In A Constitutional Culture: New England and the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023), Adrian Chastain Weimer uncovers the story of how, more than a hundred years before the American Revolution, colonists pledged their lives and livelihoods to the defense of local political institutions against arbitrary rule. With the return of Charles II to the English throne in 1660, the puritan-led colonies faced enormous pressure to conform to the crown's priorities. Charles demanded that puritans change voting practices, baptismal policies, and laws, and he also cast an eye on local resources such as forests, a valuable source of masts for the English navy. Moreover, to enforce these demands, the king sent four royal commissioners on warships, ostensibly headed for New Netherland but easily redirected toward Boston. In the face of this threat to local rule, colonists had to decide whether they would submit to the commissioners' authority, which th
03/10/202337 minutes 5 seconds
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Thula Simpson, "History of South Africa: From 1902 to the Present" (Oxford UP, 2022)

South Africa was born in war, has been cursed by crises and ruptures, and today stands on a precipice once again. Thula Simpson's History of South Africa: From 1902 to the Present (Oxford UP, 2022) explores the country's tumultuous journey from the Second Anglo-Boer War to 2021. Drawing on diaries, letters, oral testimony and diplomatic reports, Thula Simpson follows the South African people through the battles, elections, repression, resistance, strikes, insurrections, massacres, crashes and epidemics that have shaped the nation. Tracking South Africa's path from colony to Union and from apartheid to democracy, Simpson documents the influence of key figures including Jan Smuts, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, P.W. Botha, Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa. He offers detailed accounts of watershed events like the 1922 Rand Revolt, the Defiance Campaign, Sharpeville, the Soweto uprising and the Marikana massacre. He sheds light on the roles of Gandhi, Churchill, Castro and Thatcher, and explor
02/10/20231 hour 6 minutes 18 seconds
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Boyd Cothran and Adrian Shubert, "The Edwin Fox: How an Ordinary Sailing Ship Connected the World in the Age of Globalization, 1850-1914" (UNC Press, 2024)

It began as a small, slow, and unadorned sailing vessel—in a word, ordinary. Later, it was a weary workhorse in the age of steam. But the story of the Edwin Fox reveals how an everyday merchant ship drew together a changing world and its people in an extraordinary age of rising empires, sweeping economic transformation, and social change. The Edwin Fox: How an Ordinary Sailing Ship Connected the World in the Age of Globalization, 1850–1914 (University of North Carolina Press, 2023) by Dr. Boyd Cothran and Dr. Adrian Shubert is a fascinating work of global history offers a vividly detailed and engaging narrative of globalization writ small, viewed from the decks and holds of a single vessel. The Edwin Fox connected the lives and histories of millions, though most never even saw it. Built in Calcutta in 1853, the Edwin Fox was chartered by the British navy as a troop transport during the Crimean War. In the following decades, it was sold, recommissioned, and refitted by an increasingly f
02/10/20231 hour 15 minutes 2 seconds
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Melanie Williams, "A Taste of Honey" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

What makes a film a classic? In A Taste of Honey (Bloomsbury, 2023), published as part of the BFI Film Classics series, Melanie Williams, a Professor of Film and Television Studies in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia, tells the story of the films production and reception. The book explores the key themes of the film situating ideas of class, gender, race, and sexuality in both a historical context as well as thinking through the contemporary and continuing relevance of the film. Adding new insights to an overview of the existing critical responses, the book will be of interest across the arts and humanities, as well as for anyone interested in one of British cinema’s most important films. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
01/10/202338 minutes 26 seconds
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Jared Davidson, "Blood and Dirt: Prison Labour and the Making of New Zealand" (Bridget Williams Books, 2023)

Picture, for a minute, every artwork of colonial New Zealand you can think of. Now add a chain gang. Hard-labour men guarded by other men with guns. Men moving heavy metal. Men picking at the earth. Over and over again. This was the reality of nineteenth-century New Zealand. Forced labour haunts the streets we walk today and the spaces we take for granted. The unfree work of prisoners has shaped New Zealand's urban centres and rural landscapes, and Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa – the Pacific – in profound and unsettling ways. Yet these stories are largely unknown: a hidden history in plain sight. Blood and Dirt: Prison Labour and the Making of New Zealand (Bridget Williams Books, 2023) explains, for the first time, the making of New Zealand and its Pacific empire through the prism of prison labour. Jared Davidson asks us to look beyond the walls of our nineteenth- and early twentieth-century prisons to see penal practice as playing an active, central role in the creation of modern New Zealand. J
28/09/202358 minutes 10 seconds
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Debapriya Sarkar, "Possible Knowledge: The Literary Forms of Early Modern Science" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023)

Debapriya Sarkar’s new book, titled Possible Knowledge: The Literary Forms of Early Modern Science (U Pennsylvania Press, 2023) is a study of how poets and philosophers took up the “the possible” as an alternative to the actual. By pushing back against the positivism we associate so strongly with the scientific revolution, the literary texts examined in this book—Margaret Cavendish’s poetry and prose, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Milton’s Paradise Lost—invited their readers to inhabit worlds-not-yet-known, to take up uncertainty and contingency as habits of thought. I am excited to welcome Debapriya Sarkar to the podcast to discuss Possible Knowledge. Debapriya is Professor of English at the University of Connecticut. Debapriya has published articles in English Literary Renaissance, Spenser Studies, and Shakespeare Studies. She has received long-term fellowships from the Huntington Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. John
27/09/20231 hour 5 minutes 25 seconds
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Michael Wheeler, "The Year that Shaped the Victorian Age: Lives, Loves and Letters of 1845" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

What was special about 1845 and why does it deserve particular scrutiny? In The Year that Shaped the Victorian Age: Lives, Loves and Letters of 1845 (Cambridge UP, 2022), one of the leading authorities on the Victorian age argues that this was the critical year in a decade which witnessed revolution on continental Europe, the threat of mass insurrection at home and radical developments in railway transport, communications, religion, literature and the arts. The effects of the new poor law now became visible in the workhouses; a potato blight started in Ireland, heralding the Great Famine; and the Church of England was rocked to its foundations by John Henry Newman's conversion to Roman Catholicism. What Victorian England became was moulded, says Michael Wheeler, in the crucible of 1845. Exploring pivotal correspondence, together with pamphlets, articles and cartoons, the author tells the riveting story of a seismic epoch through the lives, loves and letters of leading contemporaneous f
27/09/202348 minutes 38 seconds
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Nigel Biggar, "Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning" (William Collins, 2023)

In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet empire in 1989, many believed that we had arrived at the 'End of History' - that the global dominance of liberal democracy had been secured forever. Now however, with Russia rattling its sabre on the borders of Europe and China rising to challenge the post-1945 world order, the liberal West faces major threats. These threats are not only external. Especially in the Anglosphere, the 'decolonisation' movement corrodes the West's self-confidence by retelling the history of European and American colonial dominance as a litany of racism, exploitation, and massively murderous violence. In Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning (William Collins, 2023), Nigel Biggar tests this indictment, addressing the crucial questions in eight chapters: Was the British Empire driven primarily by greed and the lust to dominate? Should we speak of 'colonialism and slavery' in the same breath, as if they were identical? Was the Empire essentially racist? How far was it base
25/09/20231 hour 18 minutes 21 seconds
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Debra Ramsay, "Archives of War: Technology, Emotion, and History" (Routledge, 2023)

Archives of War: Technology, Emotion and History (Routledge, 2023) offers a comparative analysis of British Army Unit War Diaries in the two World Wars, to reveal the role played by previously unnoticed technologies in shaping the archival records of war. Despite thriving scholarship on the history of war, the history of Operational Record Keeping in the British Army remains unexplored. Since World War I, the British Army has maintained daily records of its operations. These records, Unit War Diaries, are the first official draft of events on the battlefield. They are vital for the army’s operational effectiveness and fundamental to the histories of British conflict, yet the material history of their own production and development has been widely ignored. This book is the first to consider Unit War Diaries as mediated, material artefacts with their own history. Through a unique comparative analysis of the Unit War Diaries of the First and Second World Wars, this book uncovers the media
24/09/202345 minutes 50 seconds
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Jamie Bronstein, "The Happiness of the British Working Class" (Stanford UP, 2023)

For working-class life writers in nineteenth century Britain, happiness was a multifaceted emotion: a concept that could describe experiences of hedonic pleasure, foster and deepen social relationships, drive individuals to self-improvement, and lead them to look back over their lives and evaluate whether they were well-lived. However, not all working-class autobiographers shared the same concepts or valorizations of happiness, as variables such as geography, gender, political affiliation, and social and economic mobility often influenced the way they defined and experienced their emotional lives. The Happiness of the British Working Class (Stanford UP, 2023) employs and analyzes over 350 autobiographies of individuals in England, Scotland, and Ireland to explore the sources of happiness of British working people born before 1870. Drawing from careful examinations of their personal narratives, Jamie L. Bronstein investigates the ways in which working people thought about the good life
21/09/202338 minutes 28 seconds
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David Simpson, "Engaging Violence: Civility and the Reach of Literature" (Stanford UP, 2022)

Recent thinking has resuscitated civility as an important paradigm for engaging with a violence that must be deemed endemic to our lives. But, while it is widely acknowledged that civility works against violence, and that literature generates or accompanies civility and engenders tolerance, civility has also been understood as violence in disguise, and literature, which has only rarely sought to claim the power of violence, has often been accused of inciting it. Engaging Violence: Civility and the Reach of Literature (Stanford UP, 2022) sets out to describe the ways in which these words—violence, literature and civility—and the concepts they evoke are mutually entangled, and the uses to which these entanglements have been put. Simpson's argument follows a broadly historical trajectory through the long modern period from the Renaissance to the present, drawing on the work of historians, political scientists, literary scholars and philosophers. The result is a distinctly new argument abo
19/09/202335 minutes 58 seconds
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Erik Linstrum, "Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire" (Oxford UP, 2023)

When uprisings against colonial rule broke out across the world after 1945, Britain responded with overwhelming and brutal force. Although this period has conventionally been dubbed "postwar," it was punctuated by a succession of hard-fought, long-running conflicts that were geographically diffuse, morally ambiguous, and impervious to neat endings or declarations of victory. Ruthless counterinsurgencies in Malaya, Kenya, and Cyprus rippled through British society, molding a home front defined not by the mass mobilization of resources, but by sentiments of uneasiness and the justifications they generated. Age of Emergency: Living with Violence at the End of the British Empire (Oxford UP, 2023) traces facts and feelings about violence as torture, summary executions, collective punishments, and other ruthless methods were employed in "states of emergency." It examines how Britons at home learned to live with colonial warfare by examining activist campaigns, soldiers' letters, missionary n
18/09/202349 minutes 37 seconds
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Lenora Hanson, "The Romantic Rhetoric of Accumulation" (Stanford UP, 2022)

Lenora Hanson's The Romantic Rhetoric of Accumulation (Stanford UP, 2022) provides an account of the long arc of dispossession from the British Romantic period to today. Lenora Hanson glimpses histories of subsistence (such as reproductive labor, vagrancy and criminality, and unwaged labor) as figural ways of living that are superfluous—simultaneously more than enough to live and less than what is necessary for capitalism. Hanson treats rhetorical language as an archive of capital's accumulation through dispossession, in works by S.T. Coleridge, Edmund Burke, Mary Robinson, William Wordsworth, Benjamin Moseley, Joseph Priestley, and Alexander von Humboldt, as well as in contemporary film and critical theory. Reading riots through apostrophe, enclosure through anachronism, superstition and witchcraft through tautology, and the paradoxical coincidence of subsistence living with industrialization, Hanson shows the figural to be a material record of the survival of non-capitalist forms of
18/09/20231 hour 9 minutes 45 seconds
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Deanne Williams, "Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Performance and Pedagogy" (Arden Shakespeare, 2023)

Deanne Williams's newest book, Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Performance and Pedagogy (Bloombury, 2023), is a groundbreaking study of the girl actor in the medieval and early modern world, demonstrating the existence of the girl performer in England long before the Restoration. Challenging existing academic assumptions about the supposed male dominance of the early modern stage, this book reveals girls' participation in a host of areas, from medieval religious drama to pageants and royal entries under the Tudors, country house entertainments, and Jacobean masques. Williams situates her historical study of the girl actor within the wider contexts of 'girl culture', including singing, translating, and writing. By examining the impact of the girl actor in Shakespeare's various constructions of girlhood– those girl characters which play upon the precedent of the performing girl in the medieval world– Girl Culture in the Middle Ages and Renaissance argues that girls' acti
18/09/202356 minutes 18 seconds
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Ian Patel, "We're Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire" (Verso, 2021)

What are the origins of the hostile environment against immigrants in the UK? In We’re Here Because You Were There: Immigration and the End of Empire (Verso, 2021), Patel retells Britain's recent history in an often shocking account of state racism that still resonates today. In a series of post-war immigration laws from 1948 to 1971, arrivals from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to Britain went from being citizens to being renamed immigrants. In the late 1960s, British officials drew upon an imperial vision of the world to contain what it saw as a vast immigration “crisis” involving British citizens, passing legislation to block their entry. As a result, British citizenship itself was redefined along racial lines, fatally compromising the Commonwealth and exposing the limits of Britain’s influence in world politics. Combining voices of so-called immigrants trying to make a home in Britain and the politicians, diplomats and commentators who were rethinking the nation, Ian Sanjay Patel e
18/09/20231 hour 1 minute 24 seconds
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Oscar Webber, "Negotiating Relief and Freedom: Responses to Disaster in the British Caribbean, 1812-1907" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Negotiating Relief and Freedom: Responses to Disaster in the British Caribbean, 1812-1907 (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. Oscar Webber is an investigation of short- and long-term responses to disaster in the British Caribbean colonies during the 'long' nineteenth century. Dr. Webber explores how colonial environmental degradation made their inhabitants both more vulnerable to and expanded the impact of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. He shows that British approaches to disaster 'relief' prioritised colonial control and 'fiscal prudence' ahead of the relief of the relief of suffering. In turn, that this pattern played out continuously in the long nineteenth century is a reminder that in the Caribbean the transition from slavery to waged labour was not a clean one. Times of crisis brought racial and social tensions to the fore and freedoms once granted, were often quickly curtailed. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher
17/09/20231 hour 1 minute 12 seconds
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John O'Donovan, "An Introduction to the Irish Civil War" (Mercier Press, 2022)

During the Irish Civil War, events of late 1922 and early 1923 together with waves of 'dishonourable' killings created poisoned relations between Republicans and 'Free Staters' which would last for several generations. The most enduring of these controversies, a policy of summary executions carried out by the Provisional Government from November 1922, continues to surround the argument. John O'Donovan's book An Introduction to the Irish Civil War (Mercier Press, 2022) offers a fresh perspective on the causes, development and consequences of the Irish Civil War. Triggered by the signing of the Anglo-Treaty, there were those that would accept nothing less than complete Irish independence. Very few IRA commanders active in the field supported the Treaty and, as happens often in the dissection of civil wars, controversy over the conduct of both sides figures heavily within the text, where, at a local and national level, it left bitter legacies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megap
16/09/20231 hour 48 minutes 21 seconds
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Joshua Ehrlich, "The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

The East India Company is remembered as the world's most powerful, not to say notorious, corporation. But for many of its advocates from the 1770s to the 1850s it was also the world's most enlightened one.  Joshua Ehrlich reveals that a commitment to knowledge was integral to the Company's ideology. In The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge (Cambridge UP, 2023), he shows how the Company cited this commitment in defense of its increasingly fraught union of commercial and political power. He moves beyond studies of orientalism, colonial knowledge, and information with a new approach: the history of ideas of knowledge. He recovers a world of debate among the Company's officials and interlocutors, Indian and European, on the political uses of knowledge. Not only were these historical actors highly articulate on the subject but their ideas continue to resonate in the present. Knowledge was a fixture in the politics of the Company – just as it seems to be becoming a fixture in
16/09/202340 minutes 13 seconds
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Charlotte Lydia Riley, "Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain " (Penguin, 2023)

Can Britain escape from being a nation trapped in its past? In Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain (Penguin, 2023), Charlotte Lydia Riley, an Associate Professor of History in the Department of History at the University of Southampton, and co-host of the Tomorrow Never Knows podcast explores the history of Britain as an imperial nation, both at home and abroad. The book shows how it is impossible to separate the history of post-war Britain from the history of empire, even as contemporary politics demands we misremember or deliberately forget. Moving chronologically from the 1940s to the present, but drawing on a wealth of themes and ideas, the book makes a compelling case for rethinking British, and global, identities in light of a reckoning with the role of empire in shaping society. An important historical and popular intervention, the book will be read widely beyond arts and humanities, and is essential reading for anyone keen to better understand the history of b
15/09/202346 minutes 41 seconds
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Rebecca Kingston, "Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500–1800" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Throughout the early modern period, political theorists in France and England drew on the works of Plutarch to offer advice to kings and princes. Elizabeth I herself translated Plutarch in her later years, while Jacques Amyot's famous translations of Plutarch's The Parallel Lives led to the wide distribution of his work and served as a key resource for Shakespeare in the writing of his Roman plays, through Sir Thomas North's English translations.  Rebecca Kingston's Plutarch's Prism: Classical Reception and Public Humanism in France and England, 1500–1800 (Cambridge UP, 2022) explores how Plutarch was translated into French and English during the Renaissance and how his works were invoked in political argument from the early modern period into the 18th century, contributing to a tradition she calls 'public humanism'. This book then traces the shifting uses of Plutarch in the Enlightenment, leading to the decline of this tradition of 'public humanism'. Throughout, the importance of Plut
14/09/202347 minutes 55 seconds
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Jo Shaw and Ben Fletcher-Watson, "The Art of Being Dangerous: Exploring Women and Danger through Creative Expression" (Leuven UP, 2021)

The idea that women are dangerous - individually or collectively - runs throughout history and across cultures. Behind this label lies a significant set of questions about the dynamics, conflicts, identities and power relations with which women live today. The Art of Being Dangerous: Exploring Women and Danger through Creative Expression (Leuven UP, 2021) offers many different images of women, some humorous, some challenging, some well-known, some forgotten, but all unique. In a dazzling variety of creative forms, artists and writers of diverse identities explore what it means to be a dangerous woman. With almost 100 evocative images, this collection showcases an array of contemporary art that highlights the staggering breadth of talent among today's female artists. It offers an unparalleled gallery of feminist creativity, ranging from emerging visual artists from the UK to multi-award-winning writers and translators from the Global South. This book emerges from the Dangerous Women Pro
13/09/202326 minutes 22 seconds
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Guillemette Crouzet, "Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism" (McGill-Queen's UP, 2022)

The “Middle East” has long been an indispensable and ubiquitous term in discussing world affairs, yet its history remains curiously underexplored. Few question the origin of the term or the boundaries of the region, commonly understood to have emerged in the twentieth century after World War I.  In Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism (McGill-Queen's UP, 2022), Guillemette Crouzet offers a new account in Inventing the Middle East. The book traces the idea of the Middle East to a century-long British imperial zenith in the Indian subcontinent and its violent overspill into the Persian Gulf and its hinterlands. Encroachment into the Gulf region began under the expansionist East India Company. It was catalyzed by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and heightened by gunboat attacks conducted in the name of pacifying Arab “pirates.” Throughout the 1800s the British secured this crucial geopolitical arena, transforming it into both a crossroads o
12/09/20231 hour 1 minute 39 seconds
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Jacob Bloomfield, "Drag: A British History" (U California Press, 2023)

Drag: A British History (University of California Press, 2023) is a groundbreaking study of the sustained popularity and changing forms of male drag performance in modern Britain. With this book, Jacob Bloomfield provides fresh perspectives on drag and recovers previously neglected episodes in the history of the art form. Despite its transgressive associations, drag has persisted as an intrinsic, and common, part of British popular culture--drag artists have consistently asserted themselves as some of the most renowned and significant entertainers of their day. As Bloomfield demonstrates, drag was also at the center of public discussions around gender and sexuality in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from Victorian sex scandals to the "permissive society" of the 1960s. This compelling new history demythologizes drag, stressing its ordinariness while affirming its important place in British cultural heritage. Jacob Bloomfield is a Zukunftskolleg Postdoctoral Fellow at the Univers
12/09/202342 minutes 23 seconds
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A Better Way to Buy Books is an online book retailer that donates more than 80% of its profits to independent bookstores. Launched in 2020, has already raised more than $27,000,000. In this interview, Andy Hunter, founder and CEO discusses his journey to creating one of the most revolutionary new organizations in the book world. Bookshop has found a way to retain the convenience of online book shopping while also supporting independent bookstores that are the backbones of many local communities.  Andy Hunter is CEO and Founder of He also co-created Literary Hub. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
12/09/202334 minutes 29 seconds
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Religion and Politics in the Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien's masterwork The Lord of the Rings delighted so many of us as children, yet it and its vast body of accompanying work, such as the Silmarillion, contain a rich depth not well understood by most adults. Tolkien's work reflects his academic interests in the history of language and the Medieval world, as well as his Catholic faith. What purpose and religious message does his writing contain? Does his work carry a political meaning? Here to discuss is Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Chicago. In addition to her work on the history of Christianity, medieval liturgy, and the cult of the Virgin Mary, she teaches a popular course "Tolkien: Medieval and Modern," and has a series of lectures and writings mining the depths of Tolkien's thought and writing. More on Rachel Fulton Brown here. The syllabus to her course is here. Her lecture series, "The Forge of Tolkien" is here.  Her blog, "Fencing Bear at Prayer" is here.
12/09/20231 hour 2 minutes 51 seconds
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Padraic X. Scanlan, "Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain" (Robinson, 2021)

The British empire, in sentimental myth, was more free, more just and more fair than its rivals. But this claim that the British empire was 'free' and that, for all its flaws, it promised liberty to all its subjects was never true. The British empire was built on slavery. Padraic X. Scanlan's book Slave Empire: How Slavery Built Modern Britain (Robinson, 2021) puts enslaved people at the centre the British empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In intimate, human detail, the chapters show how British imperial power and industrial capitalism were inextricable from plantation slavery. With vivid original research and careful synthesis of innovative historical scholarship, Slave Empire shows that British freedom and British slavery were made together. In the nineteenth century, Britain abolished its slave trade, and then slavery in its colonial empire. Because Britain was the first European power to abolish slavery, many Victorian Britons believed theirs was a liberal empire,
11/09/20231 hour 26 minutes 53 seconds
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Peter Good, "The East India Company in Persia: Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Eighteenth Century" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

In 1747, the city of Kerman in Persia burned amidst chaos, destruction and death perpetrated by the city's own overlord, Nader Shah. After the violent overthrow of the Safavid dynasty in 1722 and subsequent foreign invasions from all sides, Persia had been in constant turmoil. One well-appointed house that belonged to the East India Company had been saved from destruction by the ingenuity of a Company servant, Danvers Graves, and his knowledge of the Company's privileges in Persia. This book explores the lived experience of the Company and its trade in Persia and how it interacted with power structures and the local environment in a time of great upheaval in Persian history. Using East India Company records and other sources, it charts the role of the Navy and commercial fleet in the Gulf, trade agreements, and the experience of Company staff, British and non-British living in and navigating conditions in 18th-century Persia. By examining the social, commercial and diplomatic history o
10/09/202355 minutes 40 seconds
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Alistair Moffat, "War Paths: Walking in the Shadows of the Clans" (Birlinn, 2023)

In War Paths: Walking in the Shadows of the Clans (Birlinn, 2023), acclaimed historian Alistair Moffat sets off in the footsteps of the Highland clans. In twelve journeys he explores places of conflict, recreating as he walks the tumult of battle. As he recounts the military prowess of the clans – surely the most feared fighting men in western Europe – he also speaks of their lives, their language and culture before it was all swept away. The disaster at Culloden in 1746 represented not just the defeat of the Jacobite dream but also the unleashing of merciless retribution from the British government which dealt the Highland clans a blow from which they would never recover. From the colonisers who attempted to ‘civilise’ the islanders of Lewis in the sixteenth century through the great battles of the eighteenth century – Killiekrankie, Dunkeld, Sheriffmuir, Falkirk and Culloden – this is a unique exploration of many of the places and events which define a country’s history. This intervi
10/09/202356 minutes 11 seconds
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L. M. Ratnapalan, "Robert Louis Stevenson and the Pacific: The Transformation of Global Christianity" (Edinburgh UP, 2023)

How does Robert Louis Stevenson’s engagement with Pacific Islands cultures demonstrate processes of inculturation and the transformation of global Christianity?  L. M. Ratnapalan's book Robert Louis Stevenson and the Pacific: The Transformation of Global Christianity (Edinburgh UP, 2023) re-orients the intellectual biography of Robert Louis Stevenson by presenting him in the distinctive cultural environment of the Pacific. The book argues that Stevenson was religiously literate within a Scottish Presbyterian tradition and therefore well placed to grasp with subtlety the breadth and dynamics of a Christianized Pacific culture. It considers his legacy with respect to issues of indigenous sovereignty and agency and positions him within an important and wide-ranging modern debate about inculturation, defined as the emergence of Christianity from within a particular culture rather than imposed on it from outside. Through this study of a major Scottish writer, the book offers a model of inte
09/09/202359 minutes 29 seconds
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Teresa Michals, "Lame Captains and Left-Handed Admirals: Amputee Officers in Nelson's Navy" (U Virginia Press, 2021)

The well-known Admiral Horatio Nelson fought all of his most historically significant battles after he lost his right arm and the sight in one eye. With this notable exception, however, disabled members of the military on active duty remain largely invisible. Teresa Michals' book Lame Captains and Left-Handed Admirals: Amputee Officers in Nelson's Navy (U Virginia Press, 2021) reveals that at least twenty-four other Royal Navy officers reached the rank of Commander or higher through continued service after the loss of a limb. It focuses on the lives and careers of three particularly distinguished amputee officers: Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, Admiral Sir Watkin Owen Pell, and Admiral Sir James Alexander Gordon. Given that the number of talented and ambitious naval officers far exceeded the number of ships the Royal Navy had to give them throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, we might expect that contracting any physical impairment would disqualify an officer from further com
09/09/202321 minutes 41 seconds
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Jonathan Sandler, "The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of a Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe" (2022)

Jonathan Sandler’s The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of a Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, is an adaptation of his grandfather’s 1994 war memoir. His grandfather, Bernard Sandler, was a British citizen of Latvian Jewish descent who served in the American Army. The book is illustrated by Brian Bicknell. The English GI sheds light into the experience of average people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Jonathan Sandler’s treatment of Bernard Sandler’s memoir engages issues of diaspora, bravery, and fear. This graphic memoir also makes an important contribution to our understanding the complexity of Jewish identity. Jonathan Sandler studied Politics and History at Leicester University and has spent much of his career in the software industry, leading and managing complex projects. Jonathan, a keen sketcher, has always been passionate about World War Two history and graphic novels. In 2020, he combined these dual interests and commenced wor
08/09/202358 minutes 27 seconds
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Oliver Crisp and Daniel J. Hill, eds., "Reason in the Service of Faith: Collected Essays of Paul Helm" (Routledge, 2023)

Paul Helm is a distinguished philosopher, with particular interests in the philosophy of religion. His work covers some of the most important aspects of the field as it has developed in the last thirty years with particular contributions to metaphysics, religious epistemology, and philosophical theology. In celebration of Helm's life's work, Reason in the Service of Faith: Collected Essays of Paul Helm (Routledge, 2023), edited by Oliver Crisp and Daniel J. Hill, brings together a range of his essays which reflect these central concerns of his thought. Over thirty of Helm's selected essays and four unpublished articles are gathered into five parts: Metaphilosophical Issues; Action, Change, and Personal Identity; Epistemology; God; and Creation, Providence, and Prayer. The volume is prefaced with a short editorial introduction, and ends with an extensive bibliography of Helm's published works. Demonstrating the important connection between Helm's theological and philosophical interests
08/09/202330 minutes 4 seconds
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Steven Veerapen, "The Wisest Fool: The Life of James VI and I" (Birlinn, 2023)

James VI and I has long endured a mixed reputation. To many, he is the homosexual King, the inveterate witch-roaster, the smelly sovereign who never washed, the colourless man behind the authorised Bible bearing his name, the drooling fool whose speech could barely be understood. For too long, he has paled in comparison to his more celebrated – and analysed – Tudor and Stuart forebears. But who was he really? To what extent have myth, anecdote, and rumour obscured him? In this new biography The Wisest Fool: The Lavish Life of James VI and I (Birlinn, 2023) by Dr. Steven Veerapen, James’s story is laid bare, and a welter of scurrilous, outrageous assumptions penned by his political opponents put to rest. What emerges is a portrait of James VI and I as his contemporaries knew him: a gregarious, idealistic man obsessed with the idea of family, whose personal and political goals could never match up to reality. With reference to letters, libels and state papers, it casts fresh light on the
07/09/202353 minutes 56 seconds
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Clive Moore, "Making Mala: Malaita in Solomon Islands, 1870s–1930s" (Australia National UP, 2017)

Malaita is one of the major islands in the Solomons Archipelago and has the largest population in the Solomon Islands nation. Its people have an undeserved reputation for conservatism and aggression. Clive Moore's book Making Mala: Malaita in Solomon Islands, 1870s–1930s (Australia National UP, 2017) argues that in essence Malaitans are no different from other Solomon Islanders, and that their dominance, both in numbers and their place in the modern nation, can be explained through their recent history. A grounding theme of the book is its argument that, far than being conservative, Malaitan religions and cultures have always been adaptable and have proved remarkably flexible in accommodating change. This has been the secret of Malaitan success. Malaitans rocked the foundations of the British protectorate during the protonationalist Maasina Rule movement in the 1940s and the early 1950s, have heavily engaged in internal migration, particularly to urban areas, and were central to the ‘T
07/09/20231 hour 6 minutes 32 seconds
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Peter Foster, "What Went Wrong with Brexit? And What We Can Do about It" (Canongate, 2023)

It’s been over three years since the UK withdrew from the EU and no one – not even the most ardent Brexiter – thinks it has gone well so far. Defending the cause after yet another summertime setback, the best Matthew Lesh from the Institute of Economic Affairs could offer was: “Brexit simply means that British representatives can make … choices, not that they must point in any particular direction”. Ever since the British voted to leave the EU in 2016, millions of words have been written for and against the process but Peter Foster’s What Went Wrong With Brexit: And What We Can Do About (Canongate Books, 2023) is the first book to assess the deep economic scars left by Brexit and provide politically realistic palliatives. He writes: "There is little mileage in relitigating the history of Brexit - as the saying goes, 'we are where we are' - but that does not mean accepting that the UK has to remain in its current state of Brexit purgatory". Since 2020, Peter Foster has been the Financia
07/09/202347 minutes 19 seconds
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James Newlin and James W. Stone, "New Psychoanalytic Readings of Shakespeare: Cool Reason and Seething Brains" (Routledge, 2023)

Dr. Richard Waugaman is an emeritus supervising and training analyst at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. He is also a well-respected author. With regard to his career he has said, “I have practiced clinical psychoanalysis for over 40 years. Initially, my publications were mostly on psychoanalysis.” In 2002, he made a discovery when he learned that the traditional theory about who wrote Shakespeare is faith-based, not evidence-based. As he plunged deeply into primary research on this exciting topic, he learned that the Geneva Bible owned by the Earl of Oxford, now at the Folger Shakespeare Library, has marginalia and under-linings that Roger Stritmatter shows correspond closely with biblical echoes in Shakespeare. He then researched the Whole Book of Psalms and discovered it was the largest Psalms literary source for Shakespeare. He has also published evidence that many other Elizabethan works were also written by the Earl of Oxford anonymously, using pen names, or al
06/09/20231 hour 1 minute 32 seconds
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Taylor Cowdery, "Matter and Making in Early English Poetry: Literary Production from Chaucer to Sidney" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Is the raw material of literature the paper, ink, vellum, paphyrus, and increasingly electronic data that it is inscribed on? Or is the stuff of literature the storehouse of tropes, techniques, and plots that authors draw from? And what kind of labor is the process of transforming that matter into literature? Earlier this year, Taylor Cowdery published an academic study on just this subject. The title of Taylor’s book is Matter and Making in Early English Poetry: Literary Production from Chaucer to Sidney (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Through case studies of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, Thomas Hoccleve’s Series, and Thomas Wyatt’s poetry, Taylor captures a wide discourse around creativity and originality. Taylor is Associate Professor of English and Robert M. Lumiansky Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Taylor also serves as the Director of the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Taylor’s writing has been published in 
06/09/20231 hour 22 minutes 39 seconds
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Andrew Hesketh, "Escape to Gwrych Castle: A Jewish Refugee Story" (U of Wales Press, 2023)

In 1939, a number of German Jewish refugee children, brought over on the Kindertransport, found themselves in Abergele, North Wales. Their temporary new home? Gwrych Castle, where a Hachshara was being set up: a residential 'training centre' aimed at preparing the Jewish children for life on a kibbutz in Israel, where they hoped to be reunited with their families. In Escape to Gwrych Castle: A Jewish Refugee Story (U of Wales Press, 2023), Andrew Hesketh explores the lesser-told history of the children who lived in this North Wales castle, bringing together their personal memories and experiences to create a unique picture of their experiences. He also explores the history of the building itself, from its origins in the 19th century up to its use in I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! In 2020. Nathan Abrams is a professor of film at Bangor University in Wales. His most recent work is on film director Stanley Kubrick. To discuss and propose a book for interview you can reach him at n.a
04/09/202336 minutes 49 seconds
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The Future of the NHS: A Discussion with Gavin Francis

The British National Health Service - free for all - used to be the envy of the world. But today the NHS is malfunctioning. More and more people are resorting to private care – is not unusual now for Brits to travel to Turkey or Lithuania to get hip replacements and the like – so should Britain now give up on the NHS and move to a European model of healthcare… Dr Gavin Francis has just written a book on the NHS: Free For All: Why the NHS is Worth Saving (Profile Books, 2024). Listen to him in conversation with Owen Bennett Jones. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
03/09/202344 minutes 42 seconds
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Kimberly Mair, "The Biopolitics of Care in Second World War Britain" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

During the crisis of the Second World War in Britain, official Air Raid Precautions made the management of daily life a moral obligation of civil defence by introducing new prescriptions for the care of homes, animals, and persons displaced through evacuation. This book examines how the Mass-Observation movement recorded and shaped the logics of care that became central to those daily routines in homes and neighbourhoods. In The Biopolitics of Care in Second World War Britain (Bloomsbury, 2022), Dr. Kimberly Mair looks at how government publicity campaigns communicated new instructions for care formally, while the circulation of wartime rumours negotiated these instructions informally. These rumours, she argues, explicitly repudiated the improper socialization of evacuees and also produced a salient, but contested, image of the host as a good wartime citizen who was impervious to the cultural invasion of the ostensibly 'animalistic', dirty, and destructive house guest. Mair also consid
03/09/20231 hour 3 minutes 19 seconds
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Peter K. Andersson, "Fool: In Search of Henry VIII's Closest Man" (Princeton UP, 2023)

The first biography of Henry VIII’s court fool William Somer, a legendary entertainer and one of the most intriguing figures of the Tudor age In some portraits of Henry VIII there appears another, striking figure—a gaunt and morose-looking man with a shaved head and, in one case, a monkey on his shoulder. This is William or "Will" Somer, the king’s fool, a celebrated wit who reportedly could raise Henry’s spirits and spent many hours with him, often alone. Was Somer an “artificial fool,” a cunning comic who could speak freely in front of the king, or a “natural fool,” someone with intellectual disabilities, like many other members of the profession? And what role did he play in the tumultuous and violent Tudor era? Fool is the first biography of Somer—and perhaps the first of a Renaissance fool. After his death, Somer disappeared behind his legend, and historians struggled to separate myth from reality. In Fool: In Search of Henry VIII's Closest Man (Princeton UP, 2023), Peter K. Ander
02/09/202324 minutes 56 seconds
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Aaron Kunin, "Character as Form" (Bloomsbury, 2019)

Today’s guest is Aaron Kunin, Professor of English at Pomona College. We will discuss two books Aaron published in 2019: the first is Character as Form (Bloomsbury), a re-examination of the early modern understanding of “character” as stereotype, generalization, and convention. In Character as Form, Aaron braids together close readings of furniture in Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, a reflection on the concept of negative anthropology from Raul Ruiz’s Three Lives and Only One Death, and insight into formalism and anti-formalist views of fictive personhood. The second we discuss is Love Three: A Study of a Poem by George Herbert (Wave Books), a “reading diary” that takes a seventeenth-century poem as a springboard for a meditation on love, sexual experience, and power. Herbert’s poem is a fraught dialogue between a speaker and Love, which is unfolded to touch on the politics of eating, the allure of rhetorical power, and the nature of crowds. Aaron’s research focuses on English Renai
01/09/20231 hour 36 minutes 49 seconds
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Una McIlvenna, "Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Across Europe, from the dawn of print until the early twentieth century, the news of crime and criminals' public executions was printed in song form on cheap broadsides and pamphlets to be sold in streets and marketplaces by ballad-singers. Singing the News of Death: Execution Ballads in Europe 1500-1900 (Oxford UP, 2022) looks at how and why song was employed across Europe for centuries as a vehicle for broadcasting news about crime and executions, exploring how this performative medium could frame and mediate the message of punishment and repentance. Examining ballads in English, French, Dutch, German, and Italian across four centuries, author Una McIlvenna offers the first multilingual and longue durée study of the complex and fascinating phenomenon of popular songs about brutal public death. Ballads were frequently written in the first-person voice, and often purported to be the last words, confession or 'dying speech' of the condemned criminal, yet were ironically on sale the day
31/08/202352 minutes 25 seconds
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Jeremy Black, "Why the Industrial Revolution Happened in Britain" (Amberley Publishing, 2023)

Today I talked to Jeremy Black about his new book Why the Industrial Revolution Happened in Britain (Amberley Publishing, 2023). Britain's key importance in world history was a product of its constitution and its empire, but both, in turn, were sustained and supported by Britain's role in achieving the first Industrial Revolution. In part this was a matter of coal and steam but far more was involved. Alongside the 'push' factors of entrepreneurs and resources came the 'pull' factors of consumerism, fashion and an ability to purchase goods. There was also the context of parliamentary government, the rule of law, a society open to talent, and no internal tariff boundaries. The combination of these factors produced vital synergies. They also ensure that the history of the Industrial Revolution is the history of a country, a people, and of the factors that made them exceptional. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! ht
26/08/202325 minutes 4 seconds
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Lawrence Goldman, "Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2022)

A defining feature of nineteenth-century Britain was its fascination with statistics. The processes that made Victorian society, including the growth of population, the development of industry and commerce, and the increasing competence of the state, generated profuse numerical data.  Victorians and Numbers: Statistics and Society in Nineteenth Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2022) is a study of how such data influenced every aspect of Victorian culture and thought, from the methods of natural science and the struggle against disease, to the development of social administration and the arguments and conflicts between social classes. Numbers were collected in the 1830s by newly-created statistical societies in response to this 'data revolution'. They became a regular aspect of governmental procedure thereafter, and inspired new ways of interrogating both the natural and social worlds. William Farr used them to study cholera; Florence Nightingale deployed them in campaigns for sanitary impro
25/08/20231 hour 31 minutes 47 seconds
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Samrat Choudhury, "Northeast India: A Political History" (Oxford UP, 2023)

For much of the past three months, the northeastern Indian state of Manipur—nestled right up against the border with Myanmar—has been the site of a conflict between two groups: the majority Meiteis and the minority Kukis. The fighting–with scenes of brutal violence, looting of police stations, and burnt places of worship–even sparked a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The region of northeast India has long posed a challenge for its leaders, both local and national. Geographically isolated from the rest of India due to partition and the awkward placement of what eventually becomes Bangladesh, the region soon features countless ethnic groups demanding authority and autonomy in the newly independent India—at times, through violent resistance—and a heavy-handed national administration quite willing to impose martial law to get things under control. Journalist Samrat Choudhury writes about this region in his latest book, Northeast India: A Political History (Oxf
24/08/202335 minutes 47 seconds
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Stephanie Barczewski, "How the Country House Became English (Reaktion, 2023)

How the Country House Became English (Reaktion, 2023) by Dr. Stephanie Barczewski is an exploration of the evolution of the quintessentially English country house. Country houses have come to be regarded as quintessentially English, not only in terms of their architectural style but because they appear to embody national values of continuity and insularity. The histories of country houses and England, however, have featured episodes of violence and disruption, so how did country houses come to represent one version of English history, when in reality they reflect its full range of contradictions and complexities? This book explores the evolution of the country house, beginning with the violent impact of the Reformation and Civil War and showing how the political events of the eighteenth century, which culminated in the reaction against the French Revolution, led to country houses being recast as symbols of England’s political stability. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melch
23/08/202357 minutes 29 seconds
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Thomas Simpson, "The Frontier in British India: Space, Science, and Power in the Nineteenth Century" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

In The Frontier in British India: Space, Science, and Power in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2021), Thomas Simpson provides an innovative account of how distinctive forms of colonial power and knowledge developed at the territorial fringes of colonial India during the nineteenth century. Through critical interventions in a wide range of theoretical and historiographical fields, he speaks to historians of empire and science, anthropologists, and geographers alike. The Frontier in British India provides the first connected and comparative analysis of frontiers in the northwest and northeast India and draws on visual and written materials from an array of archives across the subcontinent and the UK. It shows that colonial interventions in frontier spaces and populations were enormously destructive but also prone to confusion and failure on their own terms. British frontier administrators did not merely suffer 'turbulent' frontiers but actively worked to generate and uphold these r
22/08/20231 hour 4 minutes 52 seconds
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Tanya Evans, "Family History, Historical Consciousness and Citizenship: A New Social History" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

Family history is one of the most widely practiced forms of public history around the globe, especially in settler migrant nations like Australia and Canada. It empowers millions of researchers, linking the past to the present in powerful ways, transforming individuals' understandings of themselves and the world. Family History, Historical Consciousness and Citizenship: A New Social History (Bloomsbury, 2021) by Dr. Tanya Evans examines the practice, meanings and impact of undertaking family history research for individuals and society more broadly. Dr. Evans shows how family history fosters inter-generational and cross-cultural, religious and ethnic knowledge, how it shapes historical empathy and consciousness and combats social exclusion, producing active citizens. Evans draws on her extensive research on family history, including survey data, oral history interviews and focus groups undertaken with family historians in Australia, England and Canada collected since 2016. The book rev
20/08/202344 minutes 28 seconds
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Laura R. Kremmel, "Romantic Medicine and the Gothic Imagination: Morbid Anatomies" (U Wales Press, 2022)

Romantic Medicine and the Gothic Imagination: Morbid Anatomies (U Wales Press, 2022) demonstrates a little-studied crossover between the Gothic imagination and the medical imagination in the Romantic period. Unafraid to explore the gore and uncertainty typical of medical experimentation, Laura R. Kremmel argues, Gothic novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and chapbooks expanded the possibilities of medical theories by showing what they might look like in a speculative space without limits. In comparing the Gothic’s collection of unsavory tropes to morbid anatomy’s collection of diseased organs, Kremmel shows that the Gothic’s prioritization of fear and gore gives it access to non-normative bodies, shifting medical and narrative agency to bodies considered powerless. Each chapter pairs a familiar gothic trope with a critical medical debate; the result is to give silenced bodies power over their own narratives. Morteza Hajizadeh is a Ph.D. graduate in English from the University of Auck
20/08/202349 minutes 24 seconds
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Peter Moore, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Britain and the American Dream (1740–1776)" ( FSG, 2023)

The most famous phrase in American history once looked quite different. "The preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness" was how Thomas Jefferson put it in the first draft of the Declaration, before the first ampersand was scratched out, along with "the preservation of." In a statement as pithy--and contested--as this, a small deletion matters. And indeed, that final, iconizing revision was the last in a long chain of revisions stretching across the Atlantic and back. The precise contours of these three rights have never been pinned down--and yet in making these words into rights, Jefferson reified the hopes (and debates) not only of a group of rebel-statesmen but also of an earlier generation of British thinkers who could barely imagine a country like the United States of America. Peter Moore's Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Britain and the American Dream (1740–1776) (FSG, 2023) tells the true story of what may be the most successful import in US history:
20/08/20231 hour 10 minutes 26 seconds
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Conor Lucey, "House and Home in Georgian Ireland: Spaces and Cultures of Domestic Life" (Four Courts Press, 2022)

Conor Lucey's book House and Home in Georgian Ireland: Spaces and Cultures of Domestic Life (Four Courts Press, 2022) explores the everyday character and functions of domestic spaces in Georgian Ireland. While the design and decoration of the country pile and the aristocratic town house enjoys a long and distinguished literature, to date there has been no sustained examination of how rooms were habitually occupied and experienced, or how different social demographics--not least the burgeoning 'middling sorts'--might have informed approaches to spatial design and functionality.  Drawing on recent pioneering research, the topics and themes addressed here range widely from comfort, privacy, and multiple occupancy to sociability, maternity, and piety. Focusing on how different species of domestic spaces were used and inhabited, from mansions and merchant houses to lodgings and farm house cabins, this book expands our understanding of house and home in Ireland in the long eighteenth century
19/08/202333 minutes 58 seconds
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Diane Purkiss, "English Food: A Social History of England Told Through the Food on Its Tables (William Collins, 2022)

A rich and indulgent history, English Food: A Social History of England Told Through the Food on Its Tables (William Collins, 2022) by Dr. Diane Purkiss will change the way you view your food and understand your past. Dr. Purkiss uses the story of food as a revelatory device to chart changing views on class, gender, and tradition through the ages. Sprinkled throughout with glorious details of historical quirks – trial by ordeal of bread, a fondness for ‘small beer’ and a war-time ice-cream substitute called ‘hokey pokey’ made from parsnips – this book is both an education and an entertainment. English Food explores the development of the coffee trade and the birth of London’s coffee houses, where views were exchanged on politics, art, and literature. Dr. Purkiss introduces the first breeders of British beef and reveals how cattle triggered the terrible Glencoe Massacre. We are taken for tea, to the icehouse, the pantry, and the beehive. We learn that toast is as English as the chalk cl
18/08/20231 hour 4 minutes 31 seconds
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Nicholas Hoover Wilson, "Modernity's Corruption: Empire and Morality in the Making of British India" (Columbia UP, 2023)

When Robert Clive, the man who established Company rule in India was hauled in front of Parliament to answer for crimes of corruption, he allegedly responded by saying, essentially, he could have been worse. Am I not rather deserving of praise for the moderation which marked my proceedings? Consider the situation in which the victory at Plassey had placed me. A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation! The strange thing is that Clive’s argument was actually acceptable according to how many at the time understood corruption, as Nicholas Hoover Wilson writes in Modernity's Corruption: Empire and Morality in the Making of British India (Columbia University Press: 2023). Nick uses Company rule in India as a way to examine how soc
17/08/202345 minutes 15 seconds
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Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell, "Johnson at 10: The Inside Story" (Atlantic Books, 2023)

After his dramatic rise to power in the summer of 2019 amid the Brexit deadlock, Boris Johnson presided over the most turbulent period of British history in living memory. Beginning with the controversial prorogation of Parliament in August and the historic landslide election victory later that year, Johnson was barely through the door of No. 10 when Britain was engulfed by a series of crises that will define its place in the world for decades to come. From the agonising upheaval of Brexit and the devastating Covid-19 pandemic to the nerve-shredding crisis in Afghanistan, the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the Partygate scandal, Johnson’s government ultimately unravelled after just three years. Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell's book Johnson at 10: The Inside Story (Atlantic Books, 2023) maps Johnson’s time in power from start to finish and sheds new light on the most divisive Prime Minister to have led the United Kingdom since Thatcher. Based on more than 200 interviews with key aide
15/08/202344 minutes 18 seconds
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Al Coppola, "The Theater of Experiment: Staging Natural Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2016)

The first book-length study of the relationship between science and theater during the long eighteenth century in Britain, The Theater of Experiment: Staging Natural Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2016) explores the crucial role of spectacle in the establishment of modern science by analyzing how eighteenth-century science was "staged" in a double sense. On the one hand, this study analyzes science in performance: the way that science and scientists were made a public spectacle in comedies, farces, and pantomimes for purposes that could range from the satiric to the pedagogic to the hagiographic. But this book also considers the way in which these plays laid bare science as performance: that is, the way that eighteenth-century science was itself a kind of performing art, subject to regimes of stagecraft that traversed the laboratory, the lecture hall, the anatomy theater, and the public stage. Not only did the representation of natural philosophy in eighteenth-cen
15/08/202350 minutes 39 seconds
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Jeremy Black, "Smollett's Britain" (St. Augustine's Press, 2022)

In Smollett's Britain (St. Augustine's Press, 2022), acclaimed British historian Jeremy Black examines the layers of craft and insight in Tobias Smollett, and discusses the particular nature of his genius and influence on British culture. Once again, Black acquaints the reader with the full range of a prolific writer's works and offers a backstage tour of the meaning and context of Britain's most beloved stories and story-tellers. Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
14/08/202322 minutes 2 seconds
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Simon Mills, "A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship Between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760" (Oxford UP, 2020)

Simon Mills' book A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship Between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760 (Oxford UP, 2020) tells the story of three generations of Church of England chaplains who served the English Levant Company in Syria during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Reconstructing the careers of its protagonists in the cosmopolitan city of Ottoman Aleppo, Simon Mills investigates the links between English commercial and diplomatic expansion, and English scholarly and missionary interests: the study of Middle-Eastern languages; the exploration of biblical and Greco-Roman antiquities; and the early dissemination of Protestant literature in Arabic. Early modern Orientalism is usually conceived as an episode in the history of scholarship. By shifting the focus to Aleppo, A Commerce of Knowledge brings to light the connections between the seemingly separate worlds, tracing the emergence of new kinds of philological and archaeological enquiry in Engla
13/08/202352 minutes 16 seconds
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Phillip Reid, "A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy, 1768-1772: Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America" (Boydell Press, 2023)

The small Boston-built schooner Sultana served as a customs-enforcement interceptor on the North American eastern seaboard in the period leading up to the American Declaration of Independence, when British taxation of American trade was a hugely contentious issue. As a typical workaday British American merchant ship taken into naval service, Sultana offers a rare opportunity to understand a technology of paramount importance to this world, where records for merchant ships are scarce, but where in this case a wealth of information, from plan drawings to the fully-intact logbooks, has survived.  Phillip Reid's book A Boston Schooner in the Royal Navy, 1768-1772: Commerce and Conflict in Maritime British America (Boydell Press, 2023) provides a detailed narrative of the ship's activities, and reveals the nature of life on board and the day to day business of operating a small sailing ship. It explores the technology of the ship and her sailing qualities as revealed by the ship's logs and
10/08/202336 minutes 53 seconds
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Vaudine England, "Fortune's Bazaar: The Making of Hong Kong" (Scribner, 2023)

The legacy of the businessmen who built Hong Kong are all over the city. Bankers work in Chater House—named after Paul Chater, the Armenian businessman behind much of the city’s land reclamation (among many other things). The Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel sits along Mody Road, named after Hormusjee Naorojee Mody, a Parsi immigrant who helped found the University of Hong Kong. And that’s not including figures like Robert Hotung, the half-British, half-Chinese magnate who found more power in his Chinese identity. The story of Hong Kong is more complicated than what the British or the Chinese might assert–countless migrants, from all over the world, came to Hong Kong to build the city and make their fortunes. Vaudine England’s Fortune's Bazaar: The Making of Hong Kong (Scribner, 2023) tells the stories of these communities of Armenians, Indians, Parsis, Portuguese, Eurasians, and others who sat between the Anglo-Saxons and the Chinese majority. In this interview, Vaudine and I talk about Hong
10/08/202353 minutes 15 seconds
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Michael Roper, "Afterlives of War: A Descendants' History" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Afterlives of War: A Descendants' History (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. Michael Roper documents the lives and historical pursuits of the generations who grew up in Australia, Britain and Germany after the First World War. Although they were not direct witnesses to the conflict, they experienced its effects from their earliest years. Based on ninety oral history interviews and observation during the First World War Centenary, this pioneering study reveals the contribution of descendants to the contemporary memory of the First World War, and the intimate personal legacies of the conflict that animate their history-making. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a pre
09/08/202355 minutes 40 seconds
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Daniel Foliard, "The Violence of Colonial Photography" (Manchester UP, 2022)

The late nineteenth century witnessed a rapid increase in colonial conflicts throughout the French and British empires. It was also the period in which the first mass-produced cameras became available. Colonial authorities were quick to recognise the power of this new technology, which they used to humiliate defeated opponents and project an image of supremacy across the world. Drawing on a wealth of visual materials, from soldiers’ personal albums to the collections of press agencies and government archives, The Violence of Colonial Photography (Manchester UP, 2022) offers a new account of how conflict photography developed in the decades before the First World War. It explores the ways the camera was used to impose order on subject populations in Africa and Asia and to generate propaganda for the public in Europe, where a visual economy of violence was rapidly taking shape. At the same time, the book reveals how photographs could escape the intentions of their creators, offering a me
08/08/20231 hour 16 minutes 34 seconds
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Philip Roscoe, "How to Build a Stock Exchange: The Past, Present and Future of Finance" (Bristol UP, 2023)

Why does the financial sector matter? In How to Build a Stock Exchange: The Past, Present and Future of Finance (Bristol UP, 2023), Philip Roscoe, a Professor of Management at the University of St Andrews, explores the history of the London Stock Exchange as part of a broader examination of the role of finance in the modern world. Richly detailed, including personal reflections as well as interviews and historical analysis, the book covers the technologies, personalities, and key events that have made London, and the financial industry, globally powerful today. The book is essential reading across the social sciences and humanities, and you can hear Philip’s podcast series that accompanies the book here. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
07/08/202340 minutes 7 seconds
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Sharon Thompson, "Quiet Revolutionaries: The Married Women's Association and Family Law" (Hart Publishing, 2022)

This book tells the untold story of the Married Women's Association. Unlike more conventional histories of family law, which focus on legal actors, it highlights the little-known yet indispensable work of a dedicated group of life-long activists. Formed in 1938, the Married Women's Association took reform of family property law as its chief focus. The name is deceptively innocuous, suggesting tea parties and charity fundraisers, but in fact the MWA was often involved in dramatic confrontations with politicians, civil servants, and Law Commissioners. The Association boasted powerful public figures, including MP Edith Summerskill, authors Vera Brittain and Dora Russell, and barrister Helena Normanton. They campaigned on matters that are still being debated in family law today. Sharon Thompson's Quiet Revolutionaries: The Married Women's Association and Family Law (Hart Publishing, 2022) sheds new light upon legal reform then and now by challenging longstanding assumptions, showing that p
06/08/202356 minutes 54 seconds
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Andy Cowan, "B-Side: Pop History Via Its Greatest B-Sides, 1917-2017" (Headpress, 2023)

In his new book B-Sides: Pop History Via Its Greatest B-Sides, 1917-2017 (Headpress, 2023), Andy Cowan explores a century of music b-sides. Pop music would be a different beast without the B-Side. Music history is riven with songs deemed throwaway that revolted against their lowly status and refused to be denied. Be it rock'n'roll's national anthem ('Rock Around The Clock'), disco's enduring game-changer ('I Feel Love') or hip-hop's most notorious dis track ('Hit 'Em Up'), all three started life as the so-called 'lesser' track on releases primed for maximum chart impact. But the B-side has done much more than make stars of Bill Haley, Donna Summer and 2Pac. Whether it was the Beatles, the Kinks and the Yardbirds in the 60s, Elton John, the Who and Queen in the 70s, Depeche Mode, the Cure and Prince in the 80s, or Oasis, Pulp and Radiohead in the 90s, the B-side allowed many of the world's greatest artists freedom to experiment with no commercial constraints in an age where physical pro
04/08/202349 minutes 10 seconds
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Share and Share Alike: Researching Sibling Relationships in Eighteenth-Century England

What defines the complicated relationship between brothers and sisters—is it lineage? Love? Obligation? Friendship? Need? And why did so many parents expect their offspring to share and share alike? Historian Amy Harris joins us to talk about: What led to her interest in researching sibling relationships. Why her book project seemed to find her in an archive in England. How the early stresses on sibling relationships plagued them in later life. Why parents’ behavior affects how sibling relationships function. A discussion of the book Siblinghood and Social Relations in Georgian England: Share and Share Alike. Today’s book is: Siblinghood and Social Relations in Georgian England: Share and Share Alike (Manchester University Press, 2016), Dr. Amy Harris, which examines the impact sisters and brothers had on eighteenth-century English families and society. Using evidence from letters, diaries, probate disputes, court transcripts, prescriptive literature and portraiture, Dr. Harris
03/08/20231 hour 21 minutes 52 seconds
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James B. Conroy, "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War" (Simon and Schuster, 2023)

The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War (Simon and Schuster, 2023) is a character-driven account of the Casablanca Conference of January 1943, an Anglo-American clash over military strategy that produced a winning plan when World War II could have gone either way. Churchill called it the most important Allied conclave of the war. Until now, it has never been explored in a full-length book. In a secret, no-holds-barred, ten-day debate in a Moroccan warzone, protected by British marines and elite American troops, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton Jr., Sir Alan Brooke, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Sir Harold Alexander, and their military peers questioned each other's competence, doubted each other's vision, and argued their way through choices that could win or lose the war. You will be treated to a master class in strategy by the legendary statesmen, generals, and admirals who
02/08/202338 minutes 38 seconds
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D. J. Taylor, "Orwell: The New Life" (Pegasus Books, 2023)

A fascinating exploration of George Orwell--and his body of work--by an award-winning Orwellian biographer and scholar, presenting the author anew to twenty-first-century readers. We find ourselves in an era when the moment is ripe for a reevaluation of the life and the works of one of the twentieth century's greatest authors. This is the first twenty-first-century biography on George Orwell, with special recognition to D. J. Taylor's stature as an award-winning biographer and Orwellian. Using new sources that are now available for the first time, we are tantalizingly at the end of the lifespan of Orwell's last few contemporaries, whose final reflections are caught in this book. The way we look at a writer and his canon has changed even over the course of the last two decades; there is a post-millennial prism through which we must now look for such a biography to be fresh and relevant. This is what Orwell: The New Life (Pegasus Books, 2023) achieves. Charles Coutinho, PH. D., Associate
01/08/202346 minutes 29 seconds
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Ben Highmore, "In Good Taste: How Britain's Middle Classes Found Their Style" (Manchester UP, 2023)

How did the rise of consumerism impact Britain? In In Good Taste: How Britain's Middle Classes Found Their Style (Manchester UP, 2023), Ben Highmore, a Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities at the University of Sussex, explores this question by telling the story of key British institutions and cultural habits. The book uses a wealth of different sources, including newspapers, lifestyle magazines, shopping catalogues, plays, books, and television programmes, as well as architecture and design, in order to think through key forms of social identity and the structures of feeling underpinning social change. The book is a rich, deep, and fascinating examination of how taste patterns and practices made modern Britain, and how modern Britain made tastes. It will be essential reading across the arts humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in understanding the recent history of culture in the UK. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural
31/07/202343 minutes 40 seconds
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Diya Gupta, "India in the Second World War: An Emotional History" (Oxford UP, 2023)

In 1940s India, revolutionary and nationalistic feeling surged against colonial subjecthood and imperial war. Two-and-a-half million men from undivided India served the British during the Second World War, while 3 million civilians were killed by the war-induced Bengal Famine, and Indian National Army soldiers fought against the British for Indian independence. This captivating new history shines a spotlight on emotions as a way of unearthing these troubled and contested experiences, exposing the personal as political. Diya Gupta draws upon photographs, letters, memoirs, novels, poetry and philosophical essays, in both English and Bengali languages, to weave a compelling tapestry of emotions felt by Indians in service and at home during the war. She brings to life an unknown sepoy in the Middle East yearning for home, and anti-fascist activist Tara Ali Baig; a disillusioned doctor on the Burma frontline, and Sukanta Bhattacharya's modernist poetry of hunger; Mulk Raj Anand's revolution
31/07/202357 minutes 54 seconds
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Finola O'Kane, "Landscape Design and Revolution in Ireland and the United States, 1688-1815" (Paul Mellon Centre, 2023)

Landscape Design and Revolution in Ireland and the United States, 1688-1815 (Yale University Press, 2023) by Dr. Finola O’Kane explores how revolutionary ideas were translated into landscape design, encompassing liberty, equality, improvement and colonialism. Spanning the designed landscapes of England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1776 and the Irish rebellion of 1798, with some detours into revolutionary France, this book traces a comparative history of property structures and landscape design across the eighteenth-century Atlantic world and evolving concepts of plantation and improvement within imperial ideology. Revolutionaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, George Washington, Arthur Young, Lord Edward FitzGerald and Pierce Butler constructed houses, farms and landscape gardens—many of which have since been forgotten or selectively overlooked. How did the new republics and revolutionaries, having overthrown social hierarchies, translate their principles i
30/07/202357 minutes 2 seconds
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Jonathan R. Topham, "Reading the Book of Nature: How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

When Charles Darwin returned to Britain from the Beagle voyage in 1836, the most talked-about scientific books of the day were the Bridgewater Treatises. This series of eight works was funded by a bequest of the last Earl of Bridgewater and written by leading men of science appointed by the president of the Royal Society to explore “the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.” Securing public attention beyond all expectations, the series offered Darwin’s generation a range of approaches to one of the great questions of the age: how to incorporate the newly emerging disciplinary sciences into Britain’s overwhelmingly Christian culture. In Reading the Book of Nature: How Eight Best Sellers Reconnected Christianity and the Sciences on the Eve of the Victorian Age (U Chicago Press, 2022), Jonathan R. Topham examines how and to what extent the series contributed to a sense of congruence between Christianity and the sciences in the generation before the fabled Vict
29/07/202357 minutes 48 seconds
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Tom Young, "Unmaking the East India Company: British Art and Political Reform in Colonial India, c. 1813-1858" (Paul Mellon Centre, 2023)

Unmaking the East India Company: British Art and Political Reform in Colonial India, c. 1813-1858 (Paul Mellon Centre, 2023) by Dr. Tom Young illuminates how new modes of artistic production in colonial India shaped the British state’s nationalisation of the East India Company, transforming the relationship between nation and empire. This pioneering book explores how art shaped the nationalisation of the East India Company between the loss of its primary monopoly in 1813 and its ultimate liquidation in 1858. Challenging the idea that parliament drove political reform, it argues instead that the Company’s political legitimacy was destabilised by novel modes of artistic production in colonial India. New artistic forms and practices—the result of new technologies like lithography and steam navigation, middle-class print formats like the periodical, the scrapbook and the literary annual, as well as the prevalence of amateur sketching among Company employees—reconfigured the colonial regime
29/07/202356 minutes 3 seconds
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The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke

In April 2014, David Bromwich spoke at the Institute about his forthcoming book, The Intellectual Life of Edmund Burke: From the Sublime and Beautiful to American Independence (Harvard UP, 2014). Bromwich is a professor of English at Yale University, and the author of studies of Hazlitt and Wordsworth. While Edmund Burke is commonly seen as the father of modern conservatism, Bromwich argues that he was a more subtle and interesting thinker. Burke defended the rights of disenfranchised minorities, protested against the cruelties of English society, and agitated for peace with America. Since 1977, the New York Institute for the Humanities has brought together distinguished scholars, writers, artists, and publishing professionals to foster crucial discussions around the public humanities. For more information and to support the NYIH, visit Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwor
28/07/202352 minutes 2 seconds
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Lucy Moffat Kaufman, "A People’s Reformation: Building the English Church in the Elizabethan Parish" (McGill-Queen's Press, 2023)

In A People’s Reformation: Building the English Church in the Elizabethan Parish (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023) by Dr. Lucy Moffat Kaufman presents the lived experience of the Reformation in Tudor England. The Elizabethan settlement, and the Church of England that emerged from it, made way for a theological reformation, an institutional reformation, and a high political reformation. It was a reformation that changed history, birthed an Anglican communion, and would eventually launch new wars, new language, and even a new national identity. A People’s Reformation offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the English Reformation and the roots of the Church of England. Drawing on archival material from across the United States and Britain, Lucy Kaufman examines the growing influence of state authority and the slow building of a robust state church from the bottom up in post-Reformation England. Situating the people of England at the heart of this story, the book argues that while
27/07/20231 hour 15 minutes 41 seconds
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Po-Shek Fu, "Hong Kong Media and Asia's Cold War" (Oxford UP, 2023)

British Hong Kong was a historical anomaly in the Cold War. It experienced no "hot war" or organized movement for independence, and yet it was a key battlefield of Asia's cultural Cold War thanks largely to its unique location right next to Mao's China. The large influx of filmmakers, writers, and intellectuals from the mainland after 1948-1949 made the colony a hub of mass entertainment and popular publications in the region.  Po-Shek Fu’s book Hong Kong Media and Asia’s Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2023) is the first systematic study of Hong Kong's cultural Cold War. Based on untapped archival materials, contemporary sources, and numerous interviews with filmmakers, magazine editors and student activists, this book sheds lights on the contest between Communist China, Nationalist Taiwan, and the US to mobilize the colony's cinema and print media to win the hearts and minds of ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia and around the world. At the front and centre of this propaganda and ps
26/07/20231 hour 57 minutes 24 seconds
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Kathleen Lubey, "What Pornography Knows: Sex and Social Protest Since the Eighteenth Century" (Stanford UP, 2022)

Kathleen Lubey,'s book What Pornography Knows: Sex and Social Protest Since the Eighteenth Century (Stanford UP, 2022) offers a new history of pornography based on forgotten bawdy fiction of the eighteenth century, its nineteenth-century republication, and its appearance in 1960s paperbacks. Through close textual study, Lubey shows how these texts were edited across time to become what we think pornography is—a genre focused primarily on sex. Originally, they were far more variable, joining speculative philosophy and feminist theory to sexual description. Lubey's readings show that pornography always had a social consciousness—that it knew, long before anti-pornography feminists said it, that women and nonbinary people are disadvantaged by a society that grants sexual privilege to men. Rather than glorify this inequity, Lubey argues, the genre's central task has historically been to expose its artifice and envision social reform. Centering women's bodies, pornography refuses to divert
24/07/20231 hour 11 minutes 14 seconds
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Rich Deakin, "Grebo!: The Loud & Lousy Story of Gaye Bykers on Acid and Crazyhead" (Headpress, 2021)

In Grebo! The Loud & Lousy Story of Gaye Bikers on Acid and Crazyhead (Headpress, 2021) Rich Deakin explores West Midlands 1980s, home to heavy metal. Black Sabbath and Judas Priest are household names, but over the smoking chimneys and factory yards something new and equally ugly forms... 'Grebo' was a media constructed music genre that even today sends a shudder down the spines of discerning music fans and critics.  A homegrown proto-grunge -- counterpart to the likes of Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney, early Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden -- grebo was a British phenomenon that drew on an eclectic range of influences, from punk, 60s garage and psychedelia, through to 70s heavy rock and thrash metal. It foreshadowed rave culture and was steeped in class politics. GAYE BYKERS ON ACID and CRAZYHEAD hailed from Leicester. They were not the first bands to be labelled grebo but they were the most unashamedly unkempt and came to be considered its greatest exponents. They were "a burst
23/07/202345 minutes 58 seconds
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"Companionable Thinking: Spenser With..." Spencer Studies, Volume 37 (2023)

Volume 37 of Spenser Studies is a special issue on the theme of “Companionable Thinking: Spenser With.” As guest editors of this collection of essays, Namratha Rao (University of York), Joe Moshenska (University of Oxford), and David Hillman (King’s College, University of Cambridge) collect over two dozen essays which each “make a match” between Spenser’s work and a philosopher or theorist. For instance, Melissa Sanchez stages a conversation between Spenser and the trans theorist Julia Serrano; Patrick Aaron Harris reads Spenser’s Amoretti with Sianne Ngai’s theorization of cute poetics; and Joe Moshenska and Ayesha Ramachandran look at Spenser through Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s “cannibal metaphysics.” Each essay, from Megan Bowman’s examination of “spectacular staring” in Rosemarie Garland-Thompson to Supriya Chaudhuri’s consideration of Donna Harraway, gestures toward new critical horizons for early modern studies to take up. Additionally, as the theorist’s work participates in “co
21/07/20231 hour 15 minutes 1 second
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Callie Wilkinson, "Empire of Influence: The East India Company and the Making of Indirect Rule" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Indirect rule is widely considered as a defining feature of the nineteenth and twentieth century British Empire but its divisive earlier history remains largely unexplored. Empire of Influence: The East India Company and the Making of Indirect Rule (Cambridge UP, 2023) traces the contentious process whereby the East India Company established a system of indirect rule in India in the first decades of the nineteenth century. In a series of thematic chapters covering intelligence gathering, violence, gift giving and the co-optation of the scribal and courtly elite, Callie Wilkinson foregrounds the disagreement surrounding the tactics of the political representatives of the Company and recaptures the experimental nature of early attempts to secure Company control. She demonstrates how these endeavours were reshaped, exploited and resisted by Indians as well as disputed within the Company itself. This important new account exposes the contested origins of these ambiguous relationships of 'p
14/07/202340 minutes 31 seconds
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Leslie Turnberg, "Mandate: The Palestine Crucible, 1919-1939" (Vallentine Mitchell, 2021)

The twenty years between the World Wars saw remarkable changes in the Middle East. In Palestine, Britain struggled to maintain its Mandatory Authority as Arabs and Jews fought not only each other but the British Government too. Failing to satisfy either side Britain was stuck in the middle, and separating the warring parties was a distraction they hardly needed.  In Mandate: The Palestine Crucible, 1919-1939 (Vallentine Mitchell, 2021), Turnberg explores why the British Government maintained its responsibilities under the Mandate at a time when they were suffering severe economic and social problems at home, and the threat of war with Germany. How was it possible for the Zionists' dream of a homeland in Palestine to survive when they were faced by a Government regretting its commitments, exasperated by both Jewish demands and placating the Palestinian Arabs. The Jews were outnumbered ten to one by the Arabs, but they persisted and, as described here, survived. Events in the first twent
12/07/20231 hour 6 minutes 36 seconds
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Joseph Sassoon, "The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire" (Pantheon, 2022)

Today I talked to Joseph Sassoon about his book The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire (Pantheon, 2022) They were one of the richest families in the world for two hundred years, from the 19th century to the 20th, and were known as ‘the Rothschilds of the East.’ Mesopotamian in origin, and for more than forty years the chief treasurers to the pashas of Baghdad and Basra, they were forced to flee to Bushir on the Persian Gulf; David Sassoon and sons starting over with nothing, and beginning to trade in India in cotton and opium. The Sassoons soon were building textile mills and factories, and setting up branches in shipping in China, and expanding beyond, to Japan, and further west, to Paris and London. They became members of British parliament; were knighted; and owned and edited Britain’s leading newspapers, including The Sunday Times and The Observer. And in 1887, the exalted dynasty of Sassoon joined forces with the banking empire of Rothschild and were
12/07/20231 hour 4 minutes 57 seconds
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Jacqueline Kinghan, "Lawyers, Networks and Progressive Social Change: Lawyers Changing Lives" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

Written by a lawyer who works at the intersection between legal education and practice in access to justice and human rights, this book locates, describes and defines a collective identity for social justice lawyering in the UK. Underpinned by theories of cause lawyering and legal mobilisation, the book argues that it is vital to understand the positions that progressive lawyers collectively take in order to frame the connections they make between their personal and professional lives, the tools they use to achieve social change, as well as ethical tensions presented by their work. The book takes a reflexive ethnographic approach to capture the stories of 35 lawyers working to positively transform law and policy in the UK over the last 50 years. It also draws on a wealth of primary sources including case reports, historic campaign materials and media analysis alongside wider ethnographic interviews with academics, students and lawyers and participant observation at social justice confe
11/07/20231 hour 5 minutes 34 seconds
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Katherine Giuffre, "Outrage: The Arts and the Creation of Modernity" (Stanford UP, 2023)

A cultural revolution in England, France, and the United States beginning during the time of the industrial and political revolutions helped usher in modernity. This cultural revolution worked alongside the better documented political and economic revolutions to usher in the modern era of continuous revolution. Focusing on the period between 1847 and 1937, Outrage: The Arts and the Creation of Modernity (Stanford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Katherine Giuffre examines in depth six of the cultural "battles" that were key parts of this revolution: the novels of the Brontë sisters, the paintings of the Impressionists, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the Ballets Russes production of Le Sacre du printemps, James Joyce's Ulysses, and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Using contemporaneous reviews in the press as well as other historical material, we can see that these now-canonical works provoked outrage at the time of their release because they addressed critical points of
10/07/202353 minutes 53 seconds
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Kevin Killeen, "The Unknowable in Early Modern Thought: Natural Philosophy and the Poetics of the Ineffable" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Today’s guest is Kevin Killeen whose new monograph, The Unknowable in Early Modern Thought: Natural Philosophy and the Poetics of the Ineffable, has just been published by Stanford University Press. This monograph gathers together a range of early modern sources including the mystic Jacob Boehme, the poet and radical John Milton, the writer and royalist Margaret Cavendish, and the prophet Anna Trapnel. Taken together, these chapter offer a vibrant picture of literary culture’s engagements (sometimes critical, sometimes appreciative) of that which can’t quite be understood by the mind, language, or theology. Kevin Killeen is Professor of English at the University of York. His previous books are the monograph, The Political Bible in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and the Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c. 1530-1700 (2015), co-edited with Helen Smith and Rachel Judith Willie. Kevin also is the editor of the journal Renaissance Studies. John
09/07/20231 hour 13 minutes 2 seconds
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James Crossland, "The Rise of Devils: Fear and the Origins of Terrorism" (Manchester UP, 2023)

In the dying light of the nineteenth century, the world came to know and fear terrorism. Much like today, this was a time of progress and dread, in which breakthroughs in communications and weapons were made, political reforms were implemented and immigration waves bolstered the populations of ever-expanding cities. This era also simmered with political rage and social inequalities, which drove nationalists, nihilists, anarchists and republicans to dynamite cities and discharge pistols into the bodies of presidents, police chiefs and emperors. This wave of terrorism was seized upon by an outrage-hungry press that peddled hysteria, conspiracy theories and, sometimes, fake news in response, convincing many a reader that they were living through the end of days. Against the backdrop of this world of fear and disorder, The Rise of Devils: Fear and the Origins of Terrorism (Manchester UP, 2023) chronicles the journeys of the men and women who evoked this panic and created modern terrorism -
06/07/202359 minutes 31 seconds
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Adhaar Noor Desai, "Blotted Lines: Early Modern English Literature and the Poetics of Discomposition" (Cornell UP, 2023)

Almost every student that will enroll in a college Shakespeare course can expect two things. Students will have to engage with the style and themes of texts that were composed over four hundred years old. And students will have to submit a piece of original writing that is well-organized, has a fresh argument, and cites early modern sources correctly. Rarely do these two tracks of the course inform each other. Adhaar Noor Desai’s new book, Blotted Lines: Early Modern English Literature and the Poetics of Discomposition (Cornell University Press, 2023) seeks to address this disjunction. As Desai shows, the early modern archive proposed strategies and ideas about writing that students and teachers might profitably learn—and sometimes unlearn. The innovative structure of Blotted Lines has an introduction, a coda, and five chapters that pair a topic from early modern poetics with a key writer: style (George Gascoigne), invention (Philip Sidney), revision (John Davies of Hereford), editing
04/07/20231 hour 11 minutes 30 seconds
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Peter Stansky, "The Socialist Patriot: George Orwell and War" (Stanford UP, 2023)

Few English writers wielded a pen so sharply as George Orwell, the quintessential political writer of the twentieth century. His literary output at once responded to and sought to influence the tumultuous times in which he lived—decades during which Europe and eventually the entire world would be torn apart by war, while ideologies like fascism, socialism, and communism changed the stakes of global politics. In this study, Stanford historian and lifelong Orwell scholar Peter Stansky incisively demonstrates how Orwell's body of work was defined by the four major conflicts that punctuated his life: World War I, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Cold War. Young Orwell came of age against the backdrop of the First World War, and published his final book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, nearly half a century later, at the outset of the Cold War. The intervening three decades of Orwell's life were marked by radical shifts in his personal politics: briefly a staunch pacifist, he was finally
04/07/202343 minutes 9 seconds
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Malcolm F. Purinton, "Globalization in a Glass: The Rise of Pilsner Beer through Technology, Taste and Empire" (Bloomsbury, 2023)

Globalization in a Glass: The Rise of Pilsner Beer through Technology, Taste and Empire (Bloomsbury, 2023) by Dr. Malcolm Purinton charts the spread of Pilsner beer from its inception in 1842 to clearly show the changes wrought by globalization in an age of empire. Its rise was dependent not only on technological innovations and faster supply chains, but also on the increased connectedness of the world and the political and economic structures of empire. Drawing upon a wide range of archival sources from Europe, the Americas, and Sub-Saharan Africa, this study traces the spread of industrial beer brewing in Europe from the late 18th to the early 20th century to show how a single beer style became the global favourite through advances in science, business and imperial power. In highlighting the evolution of consumer tastes through changing hierarchical relationships between the British metropole and colonies, as well as the evolution of business organizations and practices, Globalizatio
03/07/202347 minutes 3 seconds
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Katie Kadue, "Domestic Georgic: Labors of Preservation from Rabelais to Milton" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

Many early modern humanists would balk at the proposition that what they did amounted to housework. They were far more likely to reach for the heroic image of a farmer striving in the fields, as immortalized in the ancient Roman poet Virgil’s Georgics. But, as shown in Katie Kadue’s book Domestic Georgic: Labors of Preservation from Rabelais to Milton (University of Chicago, 2021), the domestic practice of preservation offered a powerful metaphor for the often-menial, often-overlooked labor. These labors from pickling to correcting to tempering were largely imperceptible but were essential to ward off disorder. Domestic Georgic offers fresh close readings of Francois Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Andrew Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House,” Montaigne’s Essays, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Through these readings, this study provides a compelling new framework for our understanding of early modern poetics, gender, and labor. Katie Kadue is an incomin
03/07/202350 minutes 21 seconds
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Greg A. Salazar, "Calvinist Conformity in Post-Reformation England: The Theology and Career of Daniel Featley" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Calvinist Conformity in Post-Reformation England: The Theology and Career of Daniel Featley (Oxford UP, 2022) is the first modern full-scale examination of the theology and life of the distinguished English Calvinist clergyman Daniel Featley (1582-1645). It explores Featley's career and thought through a comprehensive treatment of his two dozen published works and manuscripts and situates these works within their original historical context. A fascinating figure, Featley was the youngest of the translators behind the Authorized Version, a protégé of John Rainolds, a domestic chaplain for Archbishop George Abbot, and a minister of two churches. As a result of his sympathies with royalism and episcopacy, he endured two separate attacks on his life. Despite this, Featley was the only royalist Episcopalian figure who accepted his invitation to the Westminster Assembly. Three months into the Assembly, however, Featley was charged with being a royalist spy, was imprisoned by Parliament, and
01/07/202337 minutes 28 seconds
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All for Nothing: Hamlet's Negativity

A specter is haunting philosophy—the specter of Hamlet. Why is this? Wherefore? What should we do? Entering from stage left: the philosopher's Hamlet. The philosopher's Hamlet is a conceptual character, played by philosophers rather than actors. He performs not in the theater but within the space of philosophical positions. In All for Nothing, Andrew Cutrofello critically examines the performance history of this unique role. The philosopher's Hamlet personifies negativity. In Shakespeare's play, Hamlet's speech and action are characteristically negative; he is the melancholy Dane. Most would agree that he has nothing to be cheerful about. Philosophers have taken Hamlet to embody specific forms of negativity that first came into view in modernity. What the figure of the Sophist represented for Plato, Hamlet has represented for modern philosophers. Cutrofello analyzes five aspects of Hamlet's negativity: his melancholy, negative faith, nihilism, tarrying (which Cutrofello distinguishes f
29/06/202311 minutes 58 seconds
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Daniel R. Smith, "The Fall and Rise of the English Upper Class: Houses, Kinship and Capital Since 1945" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Who are the English upper class? In The Fall and Rise of the English Upper Class: Houses, Kinship and Capital Since 1945 (Manchester UP, 2023) Daniel Smith, a lecturer in sociology at Cardiff University, offers an analysis of the role and power of the upper class in English society. Drawing on, and critiquing, sociology, anthropology, literary and cultural studies, and psychoanalysis, the book uses a vast range of methods and examples to tell the story of the continued dominance of English elites. With examples ranging from fashion and bookshops, through fee-paying schools, to memoirs and money, the book is essential reading across the social sciences and humanities, and for anyone interested in understanding Britain’s current social, economic, and cultural crisis. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksne
28/06/202348 minutes 52 seconds
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Philip J. Stern, "Empire, Incorporated: The Corporations That Built British Colonialism" (Harvard UP, 2023)

Philip Stern places the corporation―more than the Crown―at the heart of British colonialism, arguing that companies built and governed global empire, raising questions about public and private power that were just as troubling four hundred years ago as they are today. Across four centuries, from Ireland to India, the Americas to Africa and Australia, British colonialism was above all the business of corporations. Corporations conceived, promoted, financed, and governed overseas expansion, making claims over territory and peoples while ensuring that British and colonial society were invested, quite literally, in their ventures. Colonial companies were also relentlessly controversial, frequently in debt, and prone to failure. The corporation was well-suited to overseas expansion not because it was an inevitable juggernaut but because, like empire itself, it was an elusive contradiction: public and private; person and society; subordinate and autonomous; centralized and diffuse; immortal
26/06/202354 minutes 46 seconds
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Svetlana Kochkina, "Frances Burney’s 'Evelina': The Book, its History, and its Paratext" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023)

Evelina, the first novel by Frances Burney, published in 1778, enjoys lasting popularity among the reading public. Tracing its publication history through 174 editions, adaptations, and reprints, many of them newly discovered and identified, Frances Burney’s 'Evelina': The Book, its History, and its Paratext (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023) demonstrates how the novel’s material embodiment in the form of the printed book has been reshaped by its publishers, recasting its content for new generations of readers. Kochkina vividly describes how during 240 years, Evelina, a popular novel of manners, metamorphosed without any significant alterations to its text into a Regency “rambling” text, a romantic novel for “lecteurs délicats,” a cheap imprint for circulating libraries, a yellow-back, a book with a certain aesthetic cachet, a Christmas gift-book, finally becoming an integral part of the established literary canon in annotated scholarly editions. This book also focuses on the remodeling and tr
25/06/202353 minutes 40 seconds
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Yvette Taylor, "Working-Class Queers: Time, Place, and Politics" (Pluto Press, 2022)

What is the relationship between class and sexuality? In Working-Class Queers: Time, Place and Politics (Pluto Press, 2023), Yvette Taylor, Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde, explores the lives of working-class queers to tell the story of the past twenty years in the UK and beyond. Reflecting on her own biography as a researcher, the book brings in analysis of a range of research projects, giving insights into the impact of Brexit, austerity, and the pandemic on working-class queers. The book also deals with themes of migration and race, alongside offering a challenge to rethink our contemporary understandings of class. Attentive to the task of teaching, and building a canon of key texts, Taylor’s approach offers much for the classroom as well as for research. A hugely significant intervention on the study of both class and sexuality, the book will be essential reading across the social sciences and humanities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/06/202341 minutes 49 seconds
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J. Barton Scott, "Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India" (U Chicago Press, 2023)

Why is religion today so often associated with giving and taking offense? To answer this question, Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India (U Chicago Press, 2023) invites us to consider how colonial infrastructures shaped our globalized world. Through the origin and afterlives of a 1927 British imperial law (Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code), J. Barton Scott weaves a globe-trotting narrative about secularism, empire, insult, and outrage. Decentering white martyrs to free thought, his story calls for new histories of blasphemy that return these thinkers to their imperial context, dismantle the cultural boundaries of the West, and transgress the borders between the secular and the sacred as well as the public and the private. Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see Learn more about your ad choices. V
22/06/202330 minutes 28 seconds
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David Cressy, "Shipwrecks and the Bounty of the Sea" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Shipwrecks and the Bounty of the Sea (Oxford University Press, 2022), Dr. David Cressy is a work of social history examining community relationships, law, and seafaring over the long early modern period. It explores the politics of the coastline, the economy of scavenging, and the law of 'wreck of the sea' from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I to the end of the reign of George II. England's coastlines were heavily trafficked by naval and commercial shipping, but an unfortunate percentage was cast away or lost. Shipwrecks were disasters for merchants and mariners, but opportunities for shore dwellers. As the proverb said, it was an ill wind that blew nobody any good. Lords of manors, local officials, officers of the Admiralty, and coastal commoners competed for maritime cargoes and the windfall of wreckage, which they regarded as providential godsends or entitlements by right. A varied haul of commodities, wines, furnishings, and bullion came ashore, much of it claimed by the c
21/06/202355 minutes 30 seconds
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The Environmental Unconscious

Steven Swarbrick talks about poetic engagement with nature in the work of early modern poets ​​Edmund Spenser, Walter Ralegh, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton. Here language is influenced not by the manifest and the conscious, but the unconscious or void, as understood in Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. This work is the basis for his hope for a reorganization of thought in contemporary ecocriticism around a politics of degrowth instead of additive policies that serve to greenwash capitalist economies. Steven Swarbrick is an assistant professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York. His research interests include early modern literature, contemporary continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, the environmental humanities, and sexuality and film studies. He is the author of The Environmental Unconscious: Ecological Poetics from Spenser to Milton (University of Minnesota Press, 2023) and co-author, with Jean-Thomas Tremblay, of Negative Life: The Cinema of Ext
20/06/202321 minutes 53 seconds
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Mary M. McGlynn, "Broken Irelands: Literary Form in Post-Crash Irish Fiction" (Syracuse UP, 2022)

In this interview Mary M. McGlynn, Professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, discusses her new book Broken Irelands: Literary Form in Post-Crash Irish Fiction (Syracuse University Press, 2022). While the national narrative coming out of Ireland since the 2008 economic crisis has been relentlessly sanguine, fiction has offered a more nuanced perspective from both well-established and emerging authors. In Broken Irelands, McGlynn examines Irish fiction of the post-crash era, addressing the proliferation of writing that downplays realistic and grammatical coherence. Noting that these traits have the effect of diminishing human agency, blurring questions of responsibility, and emphasizing emotion over rationality, McGlynn argues that they reflect and respond to social and economic conditions during the global economic crisis and its aftermath of recession, austerity, and precarity. Rather than focusing on overt discussions of the crash and recession, McGlynn explores how the dominance
18/06/202350 minutes 31 seconds
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Vera Keller, "The Interlopers: Early Stuart Projects and the Undisciplining of Knowledge" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2023)

Many accounts of the scientific revolution portray it as a time when scientists disciplined knowledge by first disciplining their own behavior. According to these views, scientists such as Francis Bacon produced certain knowledge by pacifying their emotions and concentrating on method. In The Interlopers: Early Stuart Projects and the Undisciplining of Knowledge (Johns Hopkins Press, 2023), Dr. Vera Keller rejects this emphasis on discipline and instead argues that what distinguished early modernity was a navigation away from restraint and toward the violent blending of knowledge from across society and around the globe. Dr. Keller follows early seventeenth-century English "projectors" as they traversed the world, pursuing outrageous entrepreneurial schemes along the way. These interlopers were developing a different culture of knowledge, one that aimed to take advantage of the disorder created by the rise of science and technological advances. They sought to deploy the first submarine
17/06/20231 hour 9 minutes 2 seconds
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Anna Piela, "Wearing the Niqab: Muslim Women in the UK and the US" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

In recent years the niqab has emerged as one of the most ubiquitous symbols of everything that is perceived to be wrong with Islam: barbarity, backwardness, exploitation of women, and political radicalization. Yet all these notions are assigned to women who wear the niqab without their consultation; “niqab debates” are held without their voices being heard, and, when they do speak, their views are dismissed. Wearing the Niqab: Muslim Women in the UK and the US (Bloomsbury, 2021) brings niqab wearers' voices to the fore, discussing their narratives on religious agency, identity, social interaction, community, and urban spaces. Anna Piela, Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University, situates women's accounts firmly within UK and US socio-political contexts as well as within media discourses on Islam. The picture painted by the stories told here demonstrates that, for these women, religious symbols such as the niqab are deeply personal, freely chosen, multilayered, and socially situated.
16/06/202354 minutes 22 seconds
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Michael B. Gill, "A Philosophy of Beauty: Shaftesbury on Nature, Virtue, and Art" (Princeton UP, 2022)

The third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) was a troubled soul – negative, misanthropic, and deeply troubled by his negativity and misanthropy. In A Philosophy of Beauty: Shaftesbury on Nature, Virtue, and Art (Princeton University Press, 2022), Michael Gill shows how Shaftesbury’s efforts to work on himself resulted in his becoming one of the first philosophers writing in English to develop an aesthetic theory.  Shaftesbury conceived of beauty as order or harmony exemplified by wild nature just as it is created by God, in sharp contrast to the prevailing seventeenth-century European view that nature was sinful and needed to be altered for human purposes before it could be aesthetically valuable. Gill, who is professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, explains how Shaftesbury argued for seeing our lives as works of art, and how he responded to critics who claimed that admiring beauty was something only rich lords like himself could afford to do. Instead, Shaftesbury claimed
14/06/20231 hour 7 minutes 44 seconds
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The Rhetoric of Decline

In this episode of High Theory, Jed Esty talks about the Rhetoric of Decline. Declinism names the contradictory political narrative that America will always be the greatest country in the world, yet is in constant danger of losing its place in the global pecking order. Studying this rhetorical log-jam reveals its prominence on both the left and the right, and its toxic effects on our national discourse. But comparing the end of America’s empire to Britain's imperial decline in the twentieth century can help us muddle out of this mess. The basis of our conversation is Jed’s recent book The Future of Decline: Anglo-American Culture at Its Limits (Stanford UP, 2022). It’s a cool short book with an x-ray spaceman on the cover. You should read it, even if this isn’t usually your cup of tea. Jed Esty is the Vartan Gregorian Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches and writes about Anglophone literature after 1850, with special interests in modernism, critical
13/06/202319 minutes 19 seconds
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Fredrik Albritton Jonsson and Carl Wennerlind, "Scarcity: A History from the Origins of Capitalism to the Climate Crisis" (Harvard UP, 2023)

Scarcity: A History from the Origins of Capitalism to the Climate Crisis (Harvard UP, 2023) is a sweeping intellectual history of the concept of economic scarcity—its development across five hundred years of European thought and its decisive role in fostering the climate crisis. Modern economics presumes a particular view of scarcity, in which human beings are innately possessed of infinite desires and society must therefore facilitate endless growth and consumption irrespective of nature’s limits. Yet as Fredrik Albritton Jonsson and Carl Wennerlind show, this vision of scarcity is historically novel and was not inevitable even in the age of capitalism. Rather, it reflects the costly triumph of infinite-growth ideologies across centuries of European economic thought—at the expense of traditions that sought to live within nature’s constraints. The dominant conception of scarcity today holds that, rather than master our desires, humans must master nature to meet those desires. Albritton
12/06/20231 hour 1 minute 40 seconds
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Douglas Kerr, "Orwell and Empire" (Oxford UP, 2022)

George Orwell was born in India and served in the Imperial Police in Burma as a young man. Douglas Kerr's book Orwell and Empire (Oxford UP, 2022) is a study of his writing about the East and the East in his writing. It argues that empire was central to his cultural identity and that his experience of colonial life was a crucial factor, in ways that have not been recognized, in shaping the writer he became. Orwell and Empire is about all his writings, fictional and non-fictional. It pays particular attention to work that derives directly from his Burmese years including the well-known narratives 'A Hanging' and 'Shooting an Elephant' and his first novel Burmese Days. It goes on to explore the theme of empire throughout his work, through to Nineteen Eighty-Four and beyond, and charts the way his evolving views on class, race, gender, and authority were shaped by his experience in the East and the Anglo-Indian attitudes he had inherited. Orwell's socialism and his hatred of authoritarian
09/06/202342 minutes 30 seconds
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Anne L. Murphy, "Virtuous Bankers: A Day in the Life of the Eighteenth-Century Bank of England" (Princeton UP, 2023)

The eighteenth-century Bank of England was an institution that operated for the benefit of its shareholders--and yet came to be considered, as Adam Smith described it, "a great engine of state." In Virtuous Bankers: A Day in the Life of the Eighteenth-Century Bank of England (Princeton UP, 2023), Anne Murphy explores how this private organization became the guardian of the public credit upon which Britain's economic and geopolitical power was based. Drawing on the voluminous and detailed minute books of a Committee of Inspection that examined the Bank's workings in 1783-84, Murphy frames her account as "a day in the life" of the Bank of England, looking at a day's worth of banking activities that ranged from the issuing of bank notes to the management of public funds. Murphy discusses the bank as a domestic environment, a working environment, and a space to be protected against theft, fire, and revolt. She offers new insights into the skills of the Bank's clerks and the ways in which t
08/06/202351 minutes 4 seconds
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Celia Fisher, "The Story of Follies: Architectures of Eccentricity" (Reaktion Books, 2022)

In The Story of Follies: Architectures of Eccentricity (Reaktion, 2023), Celia Fisher presents an amusing, informative guide to a fanciful and charming building, the folly. Are they frivolous or practical? Follies are buildings constructed primarily for decoration, but suggest another purpose through their appearance. In this superbly illustrated book Celia Fisher describes follies in their historical and architectural context, looks at their social and political significance and highlights their relevance today. She explores follies built in protest, follies in oriental and gothic styles, animal-related follies, waterside follies and grottoes, and, finally, follies in glass and steel. Featuring many fine illustrations, from historical paintings to contemporary photographs and prints, and taking in follies from Great Britain, Ireland and throughout Europe and beyond, this is an amusing and informative guide to fanciful, charming buildings. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Me
04/06/202355 minutes 9 seconds
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Simon Ville and David Merrett, "International Business in Australia before World Shaping a Multinational Economy" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022)

This episode features Professor Simon Ville talking about his latest book with David Merrett International Business in Australia Before World War One: Shaping a Multinational Economy (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022). This book challenges conventional wisdom by revealing an extensive and heterogeneous community of foreign businesses in Australia before 1914. Multinational enterprise arrived predominantly from Britain, but other sender nations included the USA, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. Their firms spread out across Australia from mining and pastoral communities, to portside industries and CBD precincts, and they operated broadly across mining, trading, shipping, insurance, finance, and manufacturing. They were a remarkably diverse population of firms by size, organisational form, and longevity. This is a rare study of the impact of multinationals on a host nation, particularly before World War One, and that focuses on a successful resource-based economy. Deploying a database of
31/05/202349 minutes 57 seconds
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Hilary Frances Aked, "Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity" (Verso, 2023)

Is there such a thing as “the Israel lobby,” and how powerful is it really? Hilary Frances Aked's book Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity (Verso, 2023) provides a forensically researched account of the activities of Israel's advocates in Britain, showing how they contribute to maintaining Israeli apartheid. The book traces the history and changing fortunes of key actors within the British Zionist movement in the context of the Israeli government's contemporary efforts to repress a rising tide of solidarity with Palestinians expressed through the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Offering a nuanced and politically relevant account of pro-Israel actors' strategies, tactics, and varying levels of success in key arenas of society, it draws parallels with the similar anti-boycott campaign waged by supporters of the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa. Roberto Mazza is currently a Visiting Lecturer at Northwestern University. He is the host of
30/05/20231 hour 22 minutes 22 seconds
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The Future of Wales: A Discussion with Will Hayward

Will Wales ever become an independent country? The UK’s other constituent parts – Scotland and Northern Ireland - seem more likely to breakaway: the Scots voted no to independence in 2016 but it was by quite a narrow margin (55% to 45%) and next time, who knows? In Northern Ireland Catholics are for the first time becoming a majority and with some protestants who would rather be in the EU than the UK, a referendum there could lead to Irish unity. But what about the Welsh? Polls suggest support for independence is well short of 50% but the trend is upward. Welsh journalist Will Hayward has been talking about Welsh independence with Owen Bennett-Jones. Hayward is the author of Independent Nation: Should Wales Leave the UK? (Biteback Publishing, 2022). Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto d
29/05/202349 minutes 41 seconds
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Arthur Snell, "How Britain Broke the World: War, Greed and Blunders from Kosovo to Afghanistan (1997-2021)" (Canbury Press, 2022)

Arthur Snell's book How Britain Broke the World: War, Greed and Blunders from Kosovo to Afghanistan (1997-2021) (Canbury Press, 2022) critically assesses UK foreign policy over the past 25 years, from Kosovo in 1998 to Afghanistan in 2021, while also scrutinising British policy towards the powerhouses of the USA, Russia, India, and China. Far from being unimportant, Snell reveals, Britain has often played a pivotal role in world affairs. For instance, London supplied the false intelligence that justified the Allied invasion of Iraq and plugged Russia's corrupt elite into Western economies. Then come the bungled humanitarian interventions in foreign states. Without the UK's marginal but key role, the author argues, it's likely that wars would not have blighted the Balkans, Iraq, and Libya, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved, and the world would be a safer place in the 2020s. Taking in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Snell charts the key political, econ
29/05/20231 hour 37 seconds
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Patrick J. Corbeil, "Empire and Progress in the Victorian Secularist Movement: Imagining a Secular World" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022)

Empire and Progress in the Victorian Secularist Movement: Imagining a Secular World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) by Dr. Patrick Corbeil is the first extensive historical analysis of the relationship between empire and the Victorian secularist movement. Historians have paid little attention to the role of empire in the development of organized free thought. Secularism as it developed in Britain and its settler colonies was an overtly outward-looking, global ideology in a period marked by the rise of scientific rationalism and belief in the logic of a European civilizing mission. Recent scholarship has focused on how the empire influenced British and American atheists on the question of race. What is missing is an in-depth examination of the formation of secularist ideas about universal progress, ethics, and secular morality. Through an examination of the secularist periodical and pamphlet press, this book argues that the religious diversity of the British Empire helped to shape the ethica
26/05/20231 hour 4 minutes 15 seconds
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Saskia Coenen Snyder, "A Brilliant Commodity: Diamonds and Jews in a Modern Setting" (Oxford UP, 2022)

During the late nineteenth century, tens of thousands of diggers, prospectors, merchants, and dealers extracted and shipped over 50 million carats of diamonds from South Africa to London. The primary supplier to the world, South Africa's diamond fields became one of the formative sites of modern capitalist production. At each stage of the diamond's route through the British empire and beyond-from Cape Town to London, from Amsterdam to New York City-carbon gems were primarily mined, processed, appraised, and sold by Jews. In A Brilliant Commodity: Diamonds and Jews in a Modern Setting (Oxford University Press, 2023), historian Dr. Saskia Coenen Snyder traces how once-peripheral Jewish populations became the central architects of a new, global exchange of diamonds that connected African sites of supply, European manufacturing centers, American retailers, and western consumers. Centuries of restrictions had limited Jews to trade and finance, businesses that often heavily relied on interna
25/05/202359 minutes 34 seconds
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Heather Augustyn, "Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond" (2023)

In her latest book, Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond (Sally Brown Publishing, 2023), Heather Augustyn explores the ska revival in the UK during the lates 1970s and 1980s. The 2 Tone label represented unity of black and white in both the content of the songs, and appearance of the bands. While race may have been central to this declaration, where did gender fit in? Many bands had few, if any, women in their lineup and so women had to do it for themselves. Empowered by punk and impassioned by Jamaican ska and reggae, they took up the microphone, the saxophone, drumsticks. Women demanded their space on the stage and in the studio. Through exclusive interviews with more than 50 women involved in ska in the UK during the '70s and '80s, Rude Girls: Women in 2 Tone and One Step Beyond tells their stories of adversity, perseverance, and sisterhood for an inspiring look at half of the story that has never been told. Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of Engli
25/05/202357 minutes 41 seconds
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Black Film, British Cinema II

Clive Nwonka and Anamik Saha discuss their forthcoming book Black Film, British Cinema II (publishing in March with Goldsmiths Press), a book which brings together scholars, thinkers and practitioners to consider the politics of blackness in contemporary British cinema and visual practice. Black Film British Cinema II considers the politics of blackness in contemporary British cinema and visual practice. This second iteration of Black Film British Cinema, marking over 30 years since the ground-breaking ICA Documents 7 publication in 1988, continues this investigation by offering a crucial contemporary consideration of the textual, institutional, cultural and political shifts that have occurred from this period. It focuses on the practices, values and networks of collaborations that have shaped the development of black film culture and representation. But what is black British film? How do such films, however defined, produce meaning through visual culture, and what are the political, s
25/05/202341 minutes 6 seconds
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The Place Is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain

Nick Aikens and Elizabeth Robles discuss The Place Is Here (Sternberg Press, 2019) and the range of perspectives on black art in Thatcherite Britain offered by the collection of artworks, essays, and conversations found in the book. The Place Is Here begins to write a missing chapter in British art history: work by black artists in the Thatcherite 1980s. Richly illustrated, with more than two hundred color images, it brings together artworks, essays, archives, and conversations that map the varying perspectives and approaches of a group of artists who challenged the dominance of white heterosexual men in the canon of contemporary art. The many artists discussed and displayed here do not make up a “movement” or a school or a chronological progression, but represent the diverse interests and activities of artists across a decade and beyond. They grapple with black nationalism, anti-colonialism and postcolonialism, anti-Thatcherism, black feminism, black queer subjectivity, psychoanalysis
24/05/202341 minutes
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Alan Marshall, "Intelligence and Espionage in the English Republic C. 1600-60" (Manchester UP, 2023)

Alan Marshall's book Intelligence and Espionage in the English Republic C. 1600-60 (Manchester UP, 2023) is a richly detailed account of the ideas and activities in the early-modern 'secret state' and its agencies, spies, informers and intelligencers, under the English Republic and the Cromwellian protectorate. The book investigates the meanings this early-modern Republican state acquired to express itself, by exploring its espionage actions, the moral conundrums, and the philosophical background of secret government in the era. It considers in detail the culture and language of plots, conspiracies, and intrigues and it also exposes how the intelligence activities of the Three Kingdoms began to be situated within early-modern government from the Civil Wars to the rule of Oliver Cromwell. It introduces the reader to some of the personalities who were caught up in this world of espionage, from intelligencers like Thomas Scot and John Thurloe to the men and women who became its secret age
24/05/202336 minutes 35 seconds
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Robert Kershaw, "Dünkirchen 1940: The German View of Dunkirk" (Osprey, 2022)

The surprise success of the German offensive in the West that commenced on May 10, 1940 caught the Allies completely off-guard, and France would soon capitulate to the Germans in late June. During the course of the campaign, large numbers of Allied forces would become trapped along the coast of the English Channel at the port of Dunkirk. The mass evacuation of Allied forces at the port of Dunkirk in 1940 is often considered one of the most iconic moments of the Second World War (1939-1945), demonstrating the resolve of the British in particular to carry on the fight against Nazi Germany. This image was portrayed in Christopher Nolan's blockbuster film Dunkirk (2017). By extension, the mass evacuation of Allied forces is also often considered a "missed opportunity" on the part of the Germans to deal a decisive blow to the British war effort. How exactly did the German High Command and German soldiers interpret the situation at Dunkirk? Through extensive research into German military arc
23/05/202354 minutes 38 seconds
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Esme Cleall, "Colonising Disability: Impairment and Otherness Across Britain and Its Empire, c. 1800-1914" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Colonising Disability: Impairment and Otherness Across Britain and Its Empire, c. 1800-1914 (Cambridge UP, 2022) explores the construction and treatment of disability across Britain and its empire from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Esme Cleall explores how disability increasingly became associated with 'difference' and argues that it did so through intersecting with other categories of otherness such as race. Philanthropic, legal, literary, religious, medical, educational, eugenistic and parliamentary texts are examined to unpick representations of disability that, overtime, became pervasive with significant ramifications for disabled people. Cleall also uses multiple examples to show how disabled people navigated a wide range of experiences from 'freak shows' in Britain, to missions in India, to immigration systems in Australia, including exploring how they mobilised to resist discrimination and constitute their own identities. By a
19/05/202330 minutes 13 seconds
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Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of The Fern Loved Gully

Tai Shani (Turner Prize winning artist, educator and author of Our Fatal Magic) and Amy Hale (anthropologist, folklorist, and writer) discuss the work of artist, occultist and writer Ithell Colquhoun to celebrate the publication of Amy’s book Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of The Fern Loved Gully. This book offers the first in-depth biographical study of the British surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, situating her art within the magical contexts that shaped her imaginative life and work. After decades of neglect, Colquhoun's unique vision and hermetic life have become an object of great renewed interest, both for artists and for historians of magic. Although her paintings are represented in such major collections as Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery, Colquhoun's rejection of both avant-garde and occult orthodoxies resulted in a life of relative obscurity. Her visual and written works have only recently received adequate recognition as a precursor to contemporary experime
19/05/202357 minutes 8 seconds
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Troy Bickham, "Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain" (Reaktion Books, 2020)

When students gathered in a London coffeehouse and smoked tobacco; when Yorkshire women sipped sugar-infused tea; or when a Glasgow family ate a bowl of Indian curry, were they aware of the mechanisms of imperial rule and trade that made such goods readily available?  In Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Reaktion Books, 2020), Troy Bickham unfolds the extraordinary role that food played in shaping Britain during the long eighteenth century (circa 1660–1837), when such foreign goods as coffee, tea, and sugar went from rare luxuries to some of the most ubiquitous commodities in Britain—reaching even the poorest and remotest of households. Bickham reveals how trade in the empire’s edibles underpinned the emerging consumer economy, fomenting the rise of modern retailing, visual advertising, and consumer credit, and, via taxes, financed the military and civil bureaucracy that secured, governed, and spread the British Empire. Troy Bickham is professor of hist
19/05/20231 hour 10 minutes 51 seconds
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Michael Brown, "Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

In this innovative analytical account of the place of emotion and embodiment in nineteenth-century British surgery, Michael Brown examines the changing emotional dynamics of surgical culture for both surgeons and patients from the pre-anaesthetic era through the introduction of anaesthesia and antisepsis techniques. Drawing on diverse archival and published sources, Brown explores how an emotional regime of Romantic sensibility, in which emotions played a central role in the practice and experience of surgery, was superseded by one of scientific modernity, in which the emotions of both patient and practitioner were increasingly marginalised. Demonstrating that the cultures of contemporary surgery and the emotional identities of its practitioners have their origins in the cultural and conceptual upheavals of the later nineteenth century, this book challenges us to question our perception of the pre-anaesthetic period as an era of bloody brutality and casual cruelty. Emotions and Surgery
10/05/20231 hour 16 minutes 17 seconds
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Sita Balani, "Deadly and Slick: Sexual Modernity and the Making of Race" (Verso, 2023)

If race is increasingly understood to be socially constructed, why does it continue to seem like a physiological reality? In Deadly and Slick: Sexual Modernity and the Making of Race (Verso, 2023), Sita Balani argues that the trickery of race comes down to how it is embedded in everyday life through the domain we take to be most intimate and essential: sexuality. Modernity inaugurates a new political subject made legible as an individual through the nuclear family, sexual adventure and the pursuit of romantic love. By examining the regulation of sexual life at Britain's borders, in colonial India, and through the functioning of the welfare state, marriage laws, education, and counterterrorism, Balani reveals that sexuality has become fatally intertwined with the making of race. Louisa Hann attained a PhD in English and American studies from the University of Manchester in 2021, specialising in the political economy of HIV/AIDS theatres. She has published work on the memorialisation of
05/05/202348 minutes 21 seconds
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Tim Clarkson, "A Mighty Fleet and the King's Power: The Isle of Man, AD 400 To 1265" (John Donald, 2023)

Situated in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is like a stepping-stone between the lands that surround it. In medieval times, it played an important role in the histories of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. A Mighty Fleet and the King's Power: The Isle of Man, AD 400 to 1265 (John Donald, 2023) by Dr. Tim Clarkson explores the first part of that turbulent era, tracing the story of the Isle of Man from the fifth to the thirteenth centuries. It looks at the ways in which various peoples – Britons, Scots, Irish, English and Scandinavians – influenced events in Man over a period of more than 800 years. A large portion of the book is concerned with the Vikings, a group whose legacy – in place names, old burial mounds and finely carved stones – is such a vivid element in the Manx landscape today. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil wa
02/05/202350 minutes 18 seconds
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Robin Prior, "Conquer We Must: A Military History of Britain, 1914-1945" (Yale UP, 2022)

The First and Second World Wars were separated by a mere two decades, making the period 1914-1945 an unprecedentedly intense and violent era of history. But how did Britain develop its complex military strategy during these wars, and how were decisions made by those at the top? Robin Prior examines the influence politicians had on military operations, in the first history to assess both world wars together. Drawing uniquely on both military and political archives and previously unexamined sources Prior explores the fraught relationships between civilian and military leaders: from Lloyd George's remarkably interventionist stance on military tactics during the First World War to Churchill's near-constant arguments with American leaders during the Second.  Conquer We Must: A Military History of Britain, 1914-1945 (Yale UP, 2022) tells the complex story of this military decision-making, revealing how politicians attempted to control strategy--but had little influence on how the army, navy,
28/04/20231 hour 8 seconds
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Benjamin L. Carp, "The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution" (Yale UP, 2023)

New York City, the strategic center of the Revolutionary War, was the most important place in North America in 1776. That summer, an unruly rebel army under George Washington repeatedly threatened to burn the city rather than let the British take it. Shortly after the Crown’s forces took New York City, much of it mysteriously burned to the ground. The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution (Yale UP, 2023) is the first book to fully explore the Great Fire of 1776 and why its origins remained a mystery even after the British investigated it in 1776 and 1783. Uncovering stories of espionage, terror, and radicalism, Benjamin L. Carp paints a vivid picture of the chaos, passions, and unresolved tragedies that define a historical moment we usually associate with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” AJ Woodhams hosts the "War Books" podcast. You can subscribe on Apple here and on Spotify here. War Books is on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more
25/04/20231 hour 3 minutes 32 seconds
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Ferenc Hörcher, "Art and Politics in Roger Scruton's Conservative Philosophy" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)

Ferenc Hörcher's book Art and Politics in Roger Scruton's Conservative Philosophy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) covers the field of and points to the intersections between politics, art and philosophy. Its hero, the late Sir Roger Scruton had a longstanding interest in all fields, acquiring professional knowledge in both the practice and theory of politics, art and philosophy. The claim of the book is, therefore, that contrary to a superficial prejudice, it is possible to address the philosophical issues of art and politics in the same oeuvre, as the example of this Cambridge-educated analytical philosopher proves. Accordingly, the book has a bold thesis on the general, theoretical level, mapping the connections between politics, art and philosophy. However, it also has a pioneering commitment on the level of the particular, offering the first full-length study into the philosophical legacy of Roger Scruton, probably the most important British conservative philosopher of the late 20th and
25/04/202337 minutes 27 seconds
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Scott Newstok, "How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education" (Princeton UP, 2020)

How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (Princeton UP, 2020) offers a short, spirited defense of rhetoric and the liberal arts as catalysts for precision, invention, and empathy in today's world. The author, a professor of Shakespeare studies at a liberal arts college and a parent of school-age children, argues that high-stakes testing and a culture of assessment have altered how and what students are taught, as courses across the arts, humanities, and sciences increasingly are set aside to make room for joyless, mechanical reading and math instruction. Students have been robbed of a complete education, their imaginations stunted by this myopic focus on bare literacy and numeracy.  Education is about thinking, Newstok argues, rather than the mastery of a set of rigidly defined skills, and the seemingly rigid pedagogy of the English Renaissance produced some of the most compelling and influential examples of liberated thinking. Each of the fourteen chapters e
23/04/202347 minutes 21 seconds
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Vanessa Wilkie, "A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England" (Atria Books, 2023)

For readers of historical biography, meet Alice Spencer Stanley Egerton—the 16th century English noblewoman who was determined to bring her family into the upper strata of society. Born the daughter of an upstart sheep farmer in 1560, Alice’s marriages and maneuvers into and through aristocratic circles as well as the judicial system point to one clear example of a woman relying on her own influence to navigate a society that was not necessarily receptive women exercising power. Although Spencer faced lawsuits, tragedy, scandal, libel, and perhaps even witchcraft, she would never be derailed from doing everything to elevate her family and establish a dynasty and legacy of her own.  In A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England (Atria Books, 2023), Dr. Vanessa Wilkie brings together a well-researched account and clear writing to piece together a narrative from sources that challenges both entrenched ideas of late-Tudor and early-Stuart era women, and sy
22/04/20231 hour 21 minutes 51 seconds
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Elizabeth Elbourne, "Empire, Kinship and Violence: Family Histories, Indigenous Rights and the Making of Settler Colonialism, 1770-1842" (Cambridge UP., 2022)

Empire, Kinship and Violence: Family Histories, Indigenous Rights and the Making of Settler Colonialism, 1770-1842 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) by Dr. Elizabeth Elbourne traces the history of three linked imperial families in Britain and across contested colonial borderlands from 1770 to 1842. Dr. Elbourne tracks the Haudenosaunee Brants of northeastern North America from the American Revolution to exile in Canada; the Bannisters, a British family of colonial administrators, whistleblowers and entrepreneurs who operated across Australia, Canada and southern Africa; and the Buxtons, a family of British abolitionists who publicized information about what might now be termed genocide towards Indigenous peoples while also pioneering humanitarian colonialism. By recounting the conflicts that these interlinked families were involved in she tells a larger story about the development of British and American settler colonialism and the betrayal of Indigenous peoples. Through an analysis o
21/04/20231 hour 8 minutes 13 seconds
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Cao Yin, "Chinese Sojourners in Wartime Raj, 1942-45" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Since the outbreak of the Pacific War, British India had been taken as the main logistic base for China's war against the Japanese. Chinese soldiers, government officials, professionals, and merchants flocked into India for training, business opportunities, retreat, and rehabilitation. Chinese Sojourners in Wartime Raj, 1942-45 (Oxford University Press, 2022) by Yin Cao is about how the activities of the Chinese sojourners in wartime India caused great concerns to the British colonial regime and the Chinese Nationalist government alike and how these sojourners responded to the surveillance, discipline, and checks imposed by the governments. The book demonstrates Chinese state building projects in British India during World War II and uncovers the British colonial anxieties toward overseas Chinese. It also provides fresh explanations on the origins of the postwar India-China conflicts. Overall, this book provides a subaltern perspective on the history of modern India-China relations, a
19/04/20231 hour 10 minutes 55 seconds
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Nicholas Guyatt, "The Hated Cage: An American Tragedy in Britain's Most Terrifying Prison" (Basic Books, 2022)

After the War of 1812, more than five thousand American sailors were marooned in Dartmoor Prison on a barren English plain; the conflict was over but they had been left to rot by their government. Although they shared a common nationality, the men were divided by race: nearly a thousand were Black, and at the behest of the white prisoners, Dartmoor became the first racially segregated prison in US history. The Hated Cage: An American Tragedy in Britain's Most Terrifying Prison (Basic Books, 2022) documents the extraordinary but separate communities these men built within the prison--and the terrible massacre of nine Americans by prison guards that destroyed these worlds. As white people in the United States debated whether they could live alongside African Americans in freedom, could Dartmoor's Black and white Americans band together in captivity? Drawing on extensive new material, The Hated Cage is a gripping account of this forgotten history. Adam McNeil is a Ph.D. Candidate in Histo
18/04/20231 hour 8 minutes 13 seconds
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Karen E. Eccles and Debbie McCollin, "World War II and the Caribbean" (U West Indies Press, 2017)

Karen E. Eccles and Debbie McCollin edited volume World War II and the Caribbean (U West Indies Press, 2017) focuses on one of the most exciting periods in the history of the region as the Caribbean territories faced incredible upheaval and opportunity during the war years. Local operations, cultural mores and the region's international image were forever changed by its pivotal role in the war effort. The chapters in this volume respond to the need for information and analysis on the wide-ranging impact of the war on territories in the region (English, French, Spanish and Dutch). The contributors cover topics such as the economic consequences of wartime activity (the food crisis and the decline of the agricultural sector), while highlighting the opportunities that arose for industry and enterprise in the Caribbean; the accommodations made by the European imperial nations and their attempts to tighten control over their Caribbean territories during the war; the intervention of the Ameri
17/04/202358 minutes 50 seconds
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Charles Read, "Calming the Storms: The Carry Trade, the Banking School and British Financial Crises Since 1825" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023)

Calming the Storms: The Carry Trade, the Banking School and British Financial Crises Since 1825 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) by Dr. Charles Read exposes, for the first time in modern scholarship, the role that the rise of the Carry Trade played in British financial crises between 1825 and 1866, how in reaction the Bank of England improved its management of monetary policy after 1866 and how those lessons have been forgotten since the 1970s. Britain is one of the few major capitalist economies in the world to have avoided policy-induced systemic financial crises for more than 100 years of its history—between 1866 and 1973. Beforehand, it suffered a series of serious banking panics, in 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857-58 and 1866. Since the 1970s banking instability has returned again, with the global financial crisis of 2007-09 hitting Britain hard. Economists and policymakers have asked what can be learnt from Britain’s experience of the disappearance and reappearance of crises to help efforts to
17/04/20231 hour 1 minute 46 seconds
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David Edmonds, "Parfit: A Philosopher and His Mission to Save Morality" (Princeton UP, 2023)

Derek Parfit (1942-2017) is the most famous philosopher most people have never heard of. Widely regarded as one of the greatest moral thinkers of the past hundred years, Parfit was anything but a public intellectual. Yet his ideas have shaped the way philosophers think about things that affect us all: equality, altruism, what we owe to future generations, and even what it means to be a person. In Parfit: A Philosopher and His Mission to Save Morality (Princeton UP, 2023), David Edmonds presents the first biography of an intriguing, obsessive, and eccentric genius. Believing that we should be less concerned with ourselves and more with the common good, Parfit dedicated himself to the pursuit of philosophical progress to an extraordinary degree. He always wore gray trousers and a white shirt so as not to lose precious time picking out clothes, he varied his diet as little as possible, and he had only one serious non-philosophical interest: taking photos of Oxford, Venice, and St. Petersb
15/04/202334 minutes 28 seconds
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Arthur W. Gullachsen, "Bloody Verrières: the I. SS-Panzerkorps Defence of the Verrières-Bourguebus Ridges (Volume 2) (Casemate, 2023)

South of the Norman city of Caen, Verrières Ridge was seen a key stepping-stone for the British Second Army if it was to break out of the Normandy bridgehead in late July 1944. Imposing in height and containing perfect terrain for armored operations, the Germans viewed it as the lynchpin to their defenses south of the city of Caen and east of the Orne river. Following the failure of British Operation Goodwood on 18-20 July and the containment of the Canadian Operation Atlantic, further Allied attacks to seize the ridge would have to defeat arguably the strongest German armored formation in Normandy: The I. SS-Panzerkorps 'Leibstandarte.' In the second volume of this two-volume work, the fighting of 23 July-3 August is chronicled in detail, specifically the premier Anglo-Canadian operation to capture Verrières Ridge, Operation Spring on 25 July. Designed as an attack to seize the ridge and exploit south with armor, this battle saw the 2nd Canadian Corps attack savaged again by German ar
15/04/20231 hour 46 seconds
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Freddy Foks, "Participant Observers: Anthropology, Colonial Development, and the Reinvention of Society in Britain" (U California Press, 2023)

Freddy Foks's Participant Observers: Anthropology, Colonial Development, and the Reinvention of Society in Britain (U California Press, 2023) is a novel new history of the role of social anthropology in British society from the 1920s to the 1970s. Foks follows the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski and his students from the seminar room and field and out into the broader world, describing how their brand of 'social anthropology' interacted with British debates debates about colonialism, marriage and the family, and urban life. Participant Observers is especially interesting because it gives attention to Margaret Read, Elizabeth Bott, Kenneth Little, Polly Hill, and other figures whose important work has not received the attention it deserves. A clearly and at times elegantly written work, this closely researched book's ambitious scope makes it notable, and its orientation to British history gives it an unusual angle that will appeal to historians of anthropology. In this episode of th
14/04/20231 hour 11 minutes 15 seconds
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John Miller, "The Heart of the Forest: Why Woods Matter" (British LIbrary, 2022)

The Heart of the Forest: Why Woods Matter (British Library, 2022) looks at threats to forest life across the globe. Dr. John Miller draws on literature, film and art to explore why woods matter to us, building on the ecological case for saving trees to raise the compelling question of their cultural value. The Heart of the Forest explores four enduring ways in which we connect to the woods – through Refuge, Sacredness, Horror and Hope – making fascinating links between emotion and genre. For Henry David Thoreau, the woods are places beyond civilisation; for Ursula LeGuin and C S Lewis, they are loaded with otherworldly potential; and for those fleeing captivity, they can provide a welcome sanctuary. Woods can strike fear, they can inspire wonder, they can be lovely, dark and deep. With full-colour illustration throughout, this book branches out into the British Library to find both the haunting and the hopeful in an unparalleled collection of books, manuscripts and photography. It tell
12/04/202356 minutes 18 seconds
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Amy Edwards, "Are We Rich Yet? The Rise of Mass Investment Culture in Contemporary Britain" (U California Press, 2022)

How did British society become financialised? In Are We Rich Yet? The Rise of Mass Investment Culture in Contemporary Britain (U California Press, 2022), Dr Amy Edwards, a senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Bristol, analyses the cultural, social, and economic history of the 1980s to understand how British society became a nation of investors. The book ranges from well-known examples, such as Yuppies and privatisation of national utilities, through to everyday examples of share shops and investment clubs. Linking the analysis to broader trends in British and in financial history, alongside issues of class and gender, the book is essential reading across the humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in why money is so important to contemporary life. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a
12/04/202334 minutes 47 seconds
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The Roots of Equity and Equality: A Conversation with Teresa Bejan

The ideas of equity and equality are all over the news, yet there seems to be little agreement on what exactly each term means. Political theorist and intellectual historian Teresa Bejan of Oriel College, Oxford discusses the origins of our notions of equality, from the Roman Empire to the present, focusing particularly on Early Modernity and the influence of the French Revolution and the English political movements like the Levellers, Diggers, and Quakers. Along the way, she uncovers the surprising facts like the relationship between equality and hierarchy, and that Marx was not as pro-equality as popularly believed. Her recent 3-part Charles E. Test lecture series for the Madison Program, “First Among Equals” Her book Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Harvard UP, 2019). Annika Nordquist is the Communications Coordinator of Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions and host of the Program’s podcast, Madison’s Notes. Learn
11/04/20231 hour 1 minute 21 seconds
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Kate Strasdin, "The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman’s Wardrobe" (Pegasus Books, 2023)

The Dress Diary: Secrets from a Victorian Woman’s Wardrobe (Penguin, 2023) by Dr. Kate Strasdin presents the hidden fabric of a Victorian woman's life - from family and friends to industry and Empire - told through her unique textile scrapbook. In 1838, a young woman was given a diary on her wedding day. Collecting snippets of fabric from a range of garments she carefully annotated each one, creating a unique record of her life and times. Her name was Mrs Anne Sykes. Nearly two hundred years later, the diary fell into the hands of Dr. Kate Strasdin, a fashion historian and museum curator. Dr. Strasdin spent the next six years unravelling the secrets contained within the album's pages. Piece by piece, she charts Anne's journey from the mills of Lancashire to the port of Singapore before tracing her return to England in later years. Fragments of cloth become windows into Victorian life: pirates in Borneo, the complicated etiquette of mourning, poisonous dyes, the British Empire in full s
10/04/202352 minutes 57 seconds
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Simon Strange, "Blank Canvas: Art School Creativity and the Development of Punk, Post Punk and New Wave Music" (Intellect, 2023)

In Blank Canvas: Art School Creativity From Punk to New Wave (Intellect Publishing, 2022), Simon Strange explores the relationship between art and music within education in the United Kingdom. Strange examines the diverse range of people who broke down the barriers between art, life, and the creative self. He looks at art school Britain in the 1960s and ’70s, a hotbed of experimental DIY creativity that blurred the lines between art and music. Tracing lines from the Bauhaus “blank slate” through the white heat of the Velvet Underground and the cutting edge of the Slits, Blank Canvas draws on interviews with giants of the genre across the spectrums of music, gender, and race, from Brian Eno to Pauline Black, Cabaret Voltaire to Gaye Advert. What emerges is a portrait of the era as an eclectic range of musical styles and cultures fused, erupting into a diverse flow of outspoken originality. Providing a framework for creativity within the arts and education, the book illuminates a path fo
08/04/202343 minutes 45 seconds
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Johnny Walker, "Rewind, Replay: Britain and the Video Boom, 1978-92" (Edinburgh UP, 2022)

Nostalgia for the 1980s is in the air. From Stranger Things to the relaunch of 80s franchises like Top Gun, the American entertainment industry casts the period as an age of simpler things, clearer dichotomies, and less technology. Yet not all was simple. The 1980s were the heyday of the Cold War. They were the decade of rapid social change, of deregulation and selfish consumption, of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They were also the decade when a new technology swept the world, setting the stage for our all-too-digital present. A lot has been written about the rise of video in the United States, the format wars, the impact it had on the entertainment industry, on personal entertainment consumption habits, and new business models. But the rise of video was not a uniquely American phenomenon, nor was the American experience normative. In fact, wherever the new technology arrived, from the US, to the Middle East, to Eastern Europe, it reshaped social and business practices, as well
07/04/202345 minutes 48 seconds
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Patrick Bixby, "Nietzsche and Irish Modernism" (Manchester UP, 2022)

Patrick Bixby's book Nietzsche and Irish Modernism (Manchester UP, 2022) demonstrates how the ideas of the controversial German philosopher played a crucial role in the emergence and evolution of a distinctly Irish brand of modernist culture. Making an essential new contribution to the history of modernism, the book traces the circulation of these ideas through the writings of George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce, as well as through minor works of literature, magazine articles, newspaper debates, public lectures, and private correspondence.  These materials reveal a response to Nietzsche that created abiding tensions between Irish cultural production and reigning religious and nationalist orthodoxies, during an anxious period of Home Rule agitation, world war, revolution, civil war, and state building. With its wealth of detail, the book greatly enriches our understanding of modernist culture as a site of convergence between art and politics, indigenous concerns and foreign
05/04/20231 hour 4 minutes 3 seconds
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Andrea Hammel, "Finding Refuge: Stories of the Men, Women and Children who fFed to Wales to Escape the Nazis" (Honno Press, 2022)

A popular history telling the stories of people who found refuge in Wales from Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s. Finding Refuge will resonate with those who have personal experience of similar situations, those looking to understand the refugee experience, young people investigating Welsh and European history and the stories of their ancestors, as well as the general history reader. These are stories of child refugees, artists and doctors. Their testimonies are harrowing and sad, but also at times funny and hopeful. Nathan Abrams is a professor of film at Bangor University in Wales. His most recent work is on film director Stanley Kubrick. To discuss and propose a book for interview you can reach him at [email protected]. Twitter: @ndabrams. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
04/04/202342 minutes
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Elizabeth Marshall, "Wolves in Beowulf and Other Old English Texts" (Boydell & Brewer, 2022)

Two perceptions about wolves are inherited from ancient and medieval European lupine motifs: the superstition that the wolf could steal a person's speech, and the perceived contiguous natures of wolves and human outlaws. In Wolves in Beowulf and Other Old English Texts (Boydell & Brewer, 2022), Elizabeth Marshall traces the history of these associations and the evidence to suggest that they were known to writers working in early medieval England. Marshall provides new, animal-centric readings of Old English texts, including Beowulf, and positions these texts within a lupine literary network that transcends time and place. By exploring the intricate, contradictory, and even sympathetic depictions of the wolves and wolf-like entities found within these texts, Marshall banishes all notions of the medieval wolf as the one-dimensional, man-eating creature that it is so often understood to be. Elizabeth Marshall earned her PhD from the University of St Andrews and has received awards for bot
02/04/202335 minutes 5 seconds
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Susan R. Grayzel, "The Age of the Gas Mask: How British Civilians Faced the Terrors of Total War" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

On this episode, we sit down with Dr. Susan R. Grayzel, Professor of History at Utah State University to discuss The Age of the Gas Mask: How British Civilians Faced the Terrors of Total War (Cambridge University Press, 2022). Professor Grayzel compellingly and skillfully explores the history of one object - the civilian gas mask - to reveal the reach of modern, total war and the limits of the state trying to safeguard civilian life in an extensive empire. The First World War introduced the widespread use of lethal chemical weapons. In its aftermath, the British government, like that of many states, had to prepare civilians to confront such weapons in a future war. Over the course of the interwar period, it developed individual anti-gas protection as a cornerstone of civil defense. Drawing on records from Britain's Colonial, Foreign, War and Home Offices and other archives alongside newspapers, journals, personal accounts and cultural sources, she connects the histories of the First an
01/04/202334 minutes 36 seconds
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David Lester and Marcus Rediker, "Under the Banner of King Death: Pirates of the Atlantic, a Graphic Novel" (Beacon Press, 2023)

Under the Banner of King Death: Pirates of the Atlantic, A Graphic Novel (Beacon Press, 2023) is a comic adaptation of Rediker’s now classic 2004 Villains of all Nation: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, one of the foundational texts in serious pirate studies. David Leter’s art offers a graphic exploration of action, resistance, and radicalism among eighteenth-century pirates. The book dramatizes mutiny, bloody battles, and social revolution, breaking new ground in our understanding of piracy and pirate culture. Under the Banner of King Death engages the history of Atlantic slavery and the shipboard origins of democracy. Based on the documented practices of real pirate ships of the era, Lester and Rediker’s characters engage in democratic decision-making and create a social security net with health and disability insurance and an equal distribution of spoils taken from prize ships. David Lester is an author and graphic artist. His work includes but is not limited to 1919: A Graphic H
31/03/20231 hour 7 minutes 47 seconds
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Joshua D. Schendel, "The Necessity of Christ's Satisfaction: A Study of the Reformed Scholastic Theologians William Twisse (1578-1646) and John Owen (1616-1683)" (Brill, 2022)

The seventeenth century Reformed Orthodox discussions of the work of Christ and its various doctrinal constitutive elements were rich and multifaceted, ranging across biblical and exegetical, historical, philosophical, and theological fields of inquiry. Among the most contested questions in these discussions was the question of the necessity of Christ's satisfaction. Joshua D. Schendel's The Necessity of Christ's Satisfaction (Brill, 2022) sets that "great controverted point," as Richard Baxter called it, in its historical and traditionary contexts and provides a philosophical and theological analysis of the arguments offered by two representative Reformed scholastic theologians, William Twisse and John Owen. Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
27/03/202337 minutes 19 seconds
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Declan Warde et al., "Safety As We Watch: Anaesthesia in Ireland 1847-1998" (Wordwell Books, 2022)

The discovery of anaesthesia which could be administered safely to eliminate the pain of surgery and other medical and dental procedures is widely considered to be one of the greatest developments of the nineteenth century. Yet, until now few studies have focused on anaesthesia in Ireland.  Safety As We Watch: Anaesthesia in Ireland 1847-1998 (Wordwell Books, 2022), written by three Irish anaesthetists, is the first published study of the history of anaesthesia in Ireland. Featuring fascinating vignettes of the personalities and innovators who led the development of anaesthesia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book leads readers through the history of the practice over 150 years, sketching global networks of exchange between medical practitioners and researchers. Beginning with the administration of the first general anaesthetic in Ireland on 1 January 1847, when ether was given to an 18-year-old girl undergoing an amputation under the care of Dr John MacDonnell, the book
27/03/20231 hour 1 minute 55 seconds
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John P. Bequette, "Bede the Theologian: History, Rhetoric, and Spirituality" (Catholic U of America Press, 2022)

Revered by contemporaries and posterity for both his sanctity and his scholarship, Bede (672-735) is a pivotal figure in the history of the Church. Known primarily as an historian for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede was also an accomplished pedagogue, hagiographer, and biblical scholar. Bede the Theologian: History, Rhetoric, and Spirituality (Catholic U of America Press, 2022) takes a fresh look at this classic Christian thinker, exploring the gamut of Bede's literary corpus. The book investigates key themes, including Bede's understanding of the theological significance of time, his conception of the relationship between the temporal and eternal orders within history, his theological use of rhetoric, his foray into narrative theology, and his spirituality. The purpose of this volume is to introduce the reader to principal theological themes in Bede's thought. Bequette's thesis is that Bede was a theologian writing in continuity with the Christian tradition and
21/03/202325 minutes
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Woody Holton, "Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution" (Simon and Schuster, 2021)

A “deeply researched and bracing retelling” (Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian) of the American Revolution, showing how the Founders were influenced by overlooked Americans—women, Native Americans, African Americans, and religious dissenters. Using more than a thousand eyewitness records, Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution (Simon and Schuster, 2021) is a “spirited account” (Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution) that explores countless connections between the Patriots of 1776 and other Americans whose passion for freedom often brought them into conflict with the Founding Fathers. “It is all one story,” prizewinning historian Woody Holton writes. Holton describes the origins and crucial battles of the Revolution from Lexington and Concord to the British surrender at Yorktown, always focusing on marginalized Americans—enslaved Africans and African Americans, Native Americans, women, and
21/03/202353 minutes 21 seconds
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Andrew Phemister, "Land and Liberalism: Henry George and the Irish Land War" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Andrew Phemister is Research Associate at Newcastle University. He has previously held postdoctoral positions in History at NUI Galway, the University of Oxford, and Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. In this interview he discusses his new book, Land and Liberalism: Henry George and the Irish Land War (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Irish land in the 1880s was a site of ideological conflict, with resonances for liberal politics far beyond Ireland itself. The Irish Land War, internationalised partly through the influence of Henry George, the American social reformer and political economist, came at a decisive juncture in Anglo-American political thought, and provided many radicals across the North Atlantic with a vision of a more just and morally coherent political economy. Looking at the discourses and practices of these agrarian radicals, alongside developments in liberal political thought, Andrew Phemister shows how they utilised the land question to art
20/03/202335 minutes 47 seconds
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Arya Aryan, "The Postmodern Representation of Reality in Peter Ackroyd's Chatterton" (Cambridge Scholars, 2022)

Arya Aryan's book The Postmodern Representation of Reality in Peter Ackroyd's Chatterton (Cambridge Scholars, 2022) explores the postmodernist representation of reality and argues that historiographic metafictional texts, such as Peter Ackroyd’s Chatterton (1987), are hetero-referential in their creation of a heterocosm, as opposed to representational and anti-representational views of art. It argues that postmodernist historiographic metafiction is not simply self-referential, but hetero-referential, consciously revealing the paradoxes of self-referentiality while simultaneously creating a heterocosmic world where the text is capable of referring to an external reality. The book highlights Chatterton’s narrative strategies and techniques which result in revealing the text’s meaning-granting process. The novel acknowledges the existence of reality and the text’s possibility of representation, but contends that reality is a human construct. In addition, the book demonstrates that repres
19/03/202326 minutes 17 seconds
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Jessica Brantley, "Medieval English Manuscripts and Literary Forms" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022)

Today’s guest is Jessica Brantley, Professor of English at Yale University. Professor Rosenberg is the author of the previous monograph, Reading in the Wilderness, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007. Her articles have appeared in PMLA, Exemplaria, and the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Professor Brantley’s new book is Medieval English Manuscripts and Literary Forms, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2022. After giving a comprehensive survey of writing surfaces, writing instruments, and other aspects of material culture, Medieval English Manuscripts and Literary Forms takes a fresh look at some of the most widely studied texts of the medieval period—the Beowulf manuscript, the Ellesmere Canterbury Tales, and the Book of Margery Kempe—alongside less canonical manuscripts. In addition to rich analyses of these books as textual artifacts, the book contains 200 high-quality illustrations that will pique the interest of readers looking to d
19/03/202350 minutes 52 seconds
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Simon Parkin, "The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A Painter, a Poet, an Heiress, and a Spy in a World War II British Internment Camp" (Scribner, 2022)

The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A Painter, a Poet, an Heiress, and a Spy in a World War II British Internment Camp (Scribner, 2022 is the “riveting…truly shocking” (The New York Times Book Review) story of a Jewish orphan who fled Nazi Germany for London, only to be arrested and sent to a British internment camp for suspected foreign agents on the Isle of Man, alongside a renowned group of refugee musicians, intellectuals, artists, and—possibly—genuine spies. Following the events of Kristallnacht in 1938, Peter Fleischmann evaded the Gestapo’s roundups in Berlin by way of a perilous journey to England on a Kindertransport rescue, an effort sanctioned by the UK government to evacuate minors from Nazi-controlled areas.train. But he could not escape the British police, who came for him in the early hours and shipped him off to Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man, under suspicion of being a spy for the very regime he had fled. During Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, tens of thousa
18/03/20231 hour 7 minutes 48 seconds
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Rick de Villiers, "Eliot and Beckett's Low Modernism: Humility and Humiliation" (Edinburgh UP, 2021)

Humility and humiliation have an awkward, often unacknowledged intimacy. Humility may be a queenly, cardinal or monkish virtue, while humiliation points to an affective state at the extreme end of shame. Yet a shared etymology links the words to lowliness and, further down, to the earth. As this study suggests, like the terms in question, T. S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett share an imperfect likeness. Between them is a common interest in states of abjection, shame and suffering – and possible responses to such states. Tracing the relation between negative affect, ethics, and aesthetics, Eliot and Beckett's Low Modernism: Humility and Humiliation (Edinburgh UP, 2021) demonstrates how these two major modernists recuperate the affinity between humility and humiliation – concepts whose definitions have largely been determined by philosophy and theology. Rick de Villiers is a senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He holds
17/03/202331 minutes 52 seconds
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Mary Flanagan and Mikael Jakobsson, "Playing Oppression: The Legacy of Conquest and Empire in Colonialist Board Games" (MIT Press, 2023)

Playing Oppression: The Legacy of Conquest and Empire in Colonialist Board Games (MIT Press, 2023) by Dr. Mary Flanagan & Dr. Mikael Jakobsson is a striking analysis of popular board games' roots in imperialist reasoning—and why the future of play depends on reckoning with it. Board games conjure up images of innocuously enriching entertainment: family game nights, childhood pastimes, cooperative board games centered around resource management and strategic play. Yet in Playing Oppression, Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Jakobsson apply the incisive frameworks of postcolonial theory to a broad historical survey of board games to show how these seemingly benign entertainments reinforce the logic of imperialism. Through this lens, the commercialized version of Snakes and Ladders takes shape as the British Empire's distortion of Gyan Chaupar (an Indian game of spiritual knowledge), and early twentieth-century “trading games” that fêted French colonialism are exposed for how they conveniently sanitiz
16/03/202349 minutes 28 seconds
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Hugh Hodges, "The Fascist Groove Thing: A History of Thatcher's Britain in 21 Mixtapes" (PM Press, 2023)

This is the late 1970s and '80s as explained through the urgent and still-relevant songs of the Clash, the Specials, the Au Pairs, the Style Council, the Pet Shop Boys, and nearly four hundred other bands and solo artists. Each chapter presents a mixtape (or playlist) of songs related to an alarming feature of Thatcher's Britain, followed by an analysis of the dialogue these artists created with the Thatcherite vision of British society. "Tell us the truth," Sham 69 demanded, and pop music, however improbably, did. It's a furious and sardonic account of dark times when pop music raised a dissenting fist against Thatcher's fascist groove thing and made a glorious, boredom-smashing noise. Bookended with contributions by Dick Lucas and Boff Whalley as well as an annotated discography, The Fascist Groove Thing: A History of Thatcher's Britian in 21 Mixtapes (PM Press, 2023) presents an original and polemical account of the era. Hugh Hodges has written extensively on African and West Indian
16/03/20231 hour 7 minutes 41 seconds
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Hilary Falb Kalisman, "Teachers as State-Builders: Education and the Making of the Modern Middle East" (Princeton UP, 2022)

Today, it is hard to imagine a time and place when public school teachers were considered among the elite strata of society. But in the lands controlled by the Ottomans, and then by the British in the early and mid-twentieth century, teachers were key players in government and leading formulators of ideologies. Drawing on archival research and oral histories, Hilary Falb Kalisman's Teachers as State-Builders: Education and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2022) brings to light educators’ outsized role in shaping the politics of the modern Middle East. Kalisman's book tells the story of the few young Arab men—and fewer young Arab women—who were lucky enough to teach public school in the territories that became Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel. Crossing Ottoman provincial and, later, Mandate and national borders for work and study, these educators were advantageously positioned to assume mid- and even high-level administrative positions in multiple gove
15/03/20231 hour 2 minutes 15 seconds
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Laura Kolb, "Fictions of Credit in the Age of Shakespeare" (Oxford UP, 2021)

In Fictions of Credit in the Age of Shakespeare (Oxford University Press, 2021), Laura Kolb examines how Shakespeare and his contemporaries represented credit-driven artifice and interpretation on the early modern stage. It also analyses a range of practical texts—including commercial arithmetics, letter-writing manuals, legal formularies, and tables of interest—which offered strategies for generating credit and managing debt. Looking at plays and practical texts together, Fictions of Credit argues that both types of writing constitute “equipment for living”: practical texts by offering concrete strategies for navigating England's culture of credit, and plays by exploring the limits of credit's dangers and possibilities. In their representations of a world re-written by debt relations, dramatic texts in particular articulate a phenomenology of economic life, telling us what it feels like to live in credit culture: to live, that is, inside a fiction. Laura Kolb is an Assistant Professor
14/03/202354 minutes 35 seconds
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Rahul Sagar, "The Progressive Maharaja: Sir Madhava Rao's Hints on the Art and Science of Government" (Oxford UP, 2021)

Hints on the Art and Science of Government was the first treatise on statecraft produced in modern India. It consists of lectures that Raja Sir T. Madhava Rao delivered in 1881 to Sayaji Rao Gaekwad III, the young Maharaja of Baroda. Universally considered the foremost Indian statesman of the nineteenth century, Madhava Rao had served as dewan (or prime minister) in the native states of Travancore, Indore and Baroda. Under his command, Travancore and Baroda came to be seen as 'model states', whose progress demonstrated that Indians were capable of governing well. Rao's lectures summarise the fundamental principles underlying his unprecedented success. He explains how and why a Maharaja ought to marry the classical Indian ideal of raj dharma, which enjoins rulers to govern dutifully, with the modern English ideal of limited sovereignty. This makes Hints an exceptionally important text: it shows how, outside the confines of British India, Indians consciously and creatively sought to revi
13/03/20231 hour 8 minutes 6 seconds
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Emily Steiner, "John Trevisa's Information Age: Knowledge and the Pursuit of Literature, c. 1400" (Oxford UP, 2021)

What would medieval English literature look like if we viewed it through the lens of the compendium? In that case, John Trevisa might come into focus as the major author of the fourteenth century. Trevisa (d. 1402) made a career of translating big informational texts from Latin into English prose. These included Ranulph Higden's Polychronicon, an enormous universal history, Bartholomaeus Anglicus's well-known natural encyclopedia De proprietatibus rerum, and Giles of Rome's advice-for-princes manual, De regimine principum. These were shrewd choices, accessible and on trend: De proprietatibus rerum and De regimine principum had already been translated into French and copied in deluxe manuscripts for the French and English nobility, and the Polychronicon had been circulating England for several decades.  John Trevisa's Information Age: Knowledge and the Pursuit of Literature, c. 1400 (Oxford UP, 2021) argues that John Trevisa's translations of compendious informational texts disclose an
11/03/202354 minutes 56 seconds
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Alison Stone, "Women Philosophers in Nineteenth-Century Britain" (Oxford UP, 2023)

Many women wrote philosophy in nineteenth-century Britain, and they wrote across the full range of philosophical topics. Yet these important women thinkers have been left out of the philosophical canon and many of them are barely known today. The aim of Women Philosophers in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Oxford UP, 2023) is to put them back on the map. It introduces twelve women philosophers - Mary Shepherd, Harriet Martineau, Ada Lovelace, George Eliot, Frances Power Cobbe, Helena Blavatsky, Julia Wedgwood, Victoria Welby, Arabella Buckley, Annie Besant, Vernon Lee, and Constance Naden. Alison Stone looks at their views on naturalism, philosophy of mind, evolution, morality and religion, and progress in history. She shows how these women interacted and developed their philosophical views in conversation with one another, not only with their male contemporaries. The rich print and periodical culture of the period enabled these women to publish philosophy in forms accessible to a general
11/03/202356 minutes 53 seconds
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Jessica Rosenberg, "Botanical Poetics: Early Modern Plant Books and the Husbandry of Print" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022)

Today’s guest is Jessica Rosenberg, who is the author of a new book titled Botanical Poetics: Early Modern Plant Books and the Husbandry of Print (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022). An Assistant Professor of English at the University of Miami, Professor Rosenberg has contributed book chapters to Shakespeare and Hospitality and Ecological Approaches to Early Modern Literature and published articles on “The Poetics of Practical Address” in Philological Quarterly and “The Point of the Couplet” in ELH: English Literary History. Botanical Poetics, a wide-ranging study of print culture around poetry between the years 1568 and 1583, investigates the intersection of literary history and horticultural practice. The book includes new interpretations of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Romeo and Juliet, as well as George Gascoigne’s A Hundred Sundry Flowers and Isabella Whitney’s A Sweet Nosegay. Botanical Poetics offers a variety of fresh concepts for the study of early modern poetry such as “the ecology of
10/03/20231 hour 4 minutes 40 seconds
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Marion Turner, "The Wife of Bath: A Biography" (Princeton UP, 2023)

Ever since her triumphant debut in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath, arguably the first ordinary and recognisably real woman in English literature, has obsessed readers--from Shakespeare to James Joyce, Voltaire to Pasolini, Dryden to Zadie Smith. Few literary characters have led such colourful lives or matched her influence or capacity for reinvention in poetry, drama, fiction, and film. In The Wife of Bath: A Biography (Princeton UP, 2023), Marion Turner tells the fascinating story of where Chaucer's favourite character came from, how she related to real medieval women, and where her many travels have taken her since the fourteenth century, from Falstaff and Molly Bloom to #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. A sexually active and funny working woman, the Wife of Bath, also known as Alison, talks explicitly about sexual pleasure. She is also a victim of domestic abuse who tells a story of rape and redemption. Formed from misogynist sources, she plays with stereotypes. Turner se
10/03/202345 minutes 57 seconds
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Hilbourne A. Watson, "Errol Walton Barrow and the Postwar Transformation of Barbados: The Late Colonial Period" (U The West Indies Press, 2019)

Beginning in the 1920s, Barbadians and other British West Indians began organizing politically in an international environment that was marked by a severe capitalist economic and financial crisis that intensified in the 1930s. The response in the British Caribbean during the 1930s was in the form of rebellions that demanded colonial reform. The ensuing struggles resulted in constitutional and political changes that led to decolonization and independence. In Errol Walton Barrow and the Postwar Transformation of Barbados: The Late Colonial Period (U The West Indies Press, 2019), Hilbourne Watson examines the contradictory process through the lens of political economy and class analysis, informed by an internationalist historical perspective that centres the concerns and interests of the working class. Britain freed the colonies in ways that reflected its own subordination to US hegemony under the rubric of the Cold War, which served as the geopolitical strategy for liberal internationali
09/03/20232 hours 4 minutes 34 seconds
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Jacqueline Broad, "Women Philosophers of Seventeenth-Century England: Selected Correspondence" (Oxford UP, 2019)

This volume collects the private letters and published epistles of English women philosophers of the early modern period (c. 1650-1700). It includes the correspondences of Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth Masham, and Elizabeth Berkeley Burnet. These women were the interlocutors of some of the best-known intellectuals of their era, including Constantijn Huygens, Walter Charleton, Henry More, Joseph Glanvill, John Locke, Jean Le Clerc, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Their epistolary exchanges range over a wide variety of philosophical subjects, from religion, moral theology, and ethics to epistemology, metaphysics, and natural philosophy. For the first time in one collection, the philosophical correspondences of these women have been brought together to be appreciated as a whole.  Women Philosophers of Seventeenth-Century England: Selected Correspondence (Oxford UP, 2019) is an invaluable primary resource for students and scholars of these neglected women thinkers. It in
08/03/20231 hour 5 minutes 57 seconds
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Rotem Geva, "Delhi Reborn: Partition and Nation Building in India's Capital" (Stanford UP, 2022)

Delhi, one of the world's largest cities, has faced momentous challenges—mass migration, competing governing authorities, controversies over citizenship, and communal violence. To understand the contemporary plight of India's capital city, Delhi Reborn: Partition and Nation Building in India's Capital (Stanford UP, 2022) revisits one of the most dramatic episodes in its history, telling the story of how the city was remade by the twin events of partition and independence.  Treating decolonization as a process that unfolded from the late 1930s into the mid-1950, Rotem Geva traces how India and Pakistan became increasingly territorialized in the imagination and practice of the city's residents, how violence and displacement were central to this process, and how tensions over belonging and citizenship lingered in the city and the nation. She also chronicles the struggle, after 1947, between the urge to democratize political life in the new republic and the authoritarian legacy of colonial
07/03/202355 minutes 22 seconds
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Nicola Rollock, "The Racial Code: Tales of Resistance and Survival" (Penguin, 2022)

Why do racial inequalities persist? In The Racial Code: Tales of Resistance and Survival (Penguin, 2023), Nicola Rollock, a Professor of Social Policy & Race at King’s College London, examines the often hidden and subtle rules that underpin the long-term existence of racism. The book draws on a huge range of qualitative and quantitative data to craft individual narratives that illustrate the operation of the racial code. In doing so, the book offers an clear overview of the lived experience of racism, across a variety of social and professional settings. In addition, the book is interspersed with interludes that add further intensity to the already rich analysis of how racism operates. Featuring deeply developed research that is also instantly accessible, the book is essential reading for every academic as well as anyone interested in understanding racism in society today. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about y
05/03/202344 minutes 18 seconds
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William Carruthers, "Flooded Pasts: UNESCO, Nubia, and the Recolonization of Archaeology" (Cornell UP, 2022)

Flooded Pasts: UNESCO, Nubia, and the Recolonization of Archaeology (Cornell UP, 2022) examines a world famous yet critically underexamined event—UNESCO's International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia (1960–80)—to show how the project, its genealogy, and its aftermath not only propelled archaeology into the postwar world but also helped to "recolonize" it. In this book, William Carruthers asks how postwar decolonization took shape and what role a colonial discipline like archaeology—forged in the crucible of imperialism—played as the "new nations" asserted themselves in the face of the global Cold War. As the Aswan High Dam became the centerpiece of Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egyptian revolution, the Nubian campaign sought to salvage and preserve ancient temples and archaeological sites from the new barrage's floodwaters. Conducted in the neighboring regions of Egyptian and Sudanese Nubia, the project built on years of Nubian archaeological work conducted under British occupation and
05/03/20231 hour 20 minutes 23 seconds
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Ben Davies et al., "Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Pandemic" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Drawing on an ethnographic study of novel readers in Denmark and the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, Reading Novels During the Covid-19 Pandemic (Oxford UP, 2022) provides a snapshot of a phenomenal moment in modern history. The ethnographic approach shows what no historical account of books published during the pandemic will be able to capture, namely the movement of readers between new purchases and books long kept in their collections. The book follows readers who have tuned into novels about plague, apocalypse, and racial violence, but also readers whose taste for older novels, and for re-reading novels they knew earlier in their lives, has grown. Alternating between chapters that analyze single texts that were popular (Albert Camus's The Plague, Ali Smith's Summer, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre) and others that describe clusters of, for example, dystopian fiction and nature writing, this work brings out the diverse quality of the Covid-19 bookshelf. Time is of central importance t
04/03/20231 hour 1 minute 16 seconds
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Hilbourne A. Watson, "Errol Walton Barrow and the Postwar Transformation of Barbados: The Independence Period, 1966-1976" (U West Indies Press, 2020)

Hilbourne A. Watson's Errol Walton Barrow and the Postwar Transformation of Barbados: The Independence Period, 1966-1976 (U West Indies Press, 2020) is the companion volume to Errol Walton Barrow and the Postwar Transformation of Barbados: The Late Colonial Period, which covered the social and political forces between the 1920s and 1966 that shaped the trajectory of working-class struggles in Barbados and led to its decolonization, addresses mainly the first two decades of Barbados's independence as a sovereign monarchy under Errol Barrow and the Democratic Labour Party. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
04/03/20231 hour 43 minutes 36 seconds
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Caroline Rusterholz, "Women's Medicine: Family Planning and British Female Doctors in Transnational Perspective, 1920-70" (Manchester UP, 2021)

Who built the twentieth century birth control movement? In Women's Medicine: Family Planning and British Female Doctors in Transnational Perspective, 1920-70 (Manchester University Press 2020), Dr. Caroline Rusterholz highlights British female doctors' key contribution to the production and circulation of scientific knowledge around contraception, family planning and sexual disorders between 1920-70. It argues that women doctors were pivotal in developing a holistic approach to family planning and transmitting this knowledge across borders, playing a more prominent role in shaping scientific and medical knowledge than previously acknowledged.  The book locates women doctors' involvement within the changing landscape of national and international reproductive politics. Illuminating women doctors' agency in the male-dominated field of medicine, this book reveals their practical engagement with birth control and later family planning clinics in Britain, their participation in the developm
04/03/202332 minutes 42 seconds
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Elizabeth T. Hurren, "Hidden Histories of the Dead: Disputed Bodies in Modern British Medical Research" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

In Hidden Histories of the Dead: Disputed Bodies in Modern British Medical Research (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Dr. Elizabeth T. Hurren maps the post-mortem journeys of bodies, body-parts, organs, and brains, inside the secretive culture of modern British medical research after WWII as the bodies of the deceased were harvested as bio-commons. Often the human stories behind these bodies were dissected, discarded, or destroyed in death. Hidden Histories of the Dead recovers human faces and supply-lines in the archives that medical science neglected to acknowledge. Dr. Hurren investigates the medical ethics of organ donation, the legal ambiguities of a lack of fully-informed consent and the shifting boundaries of life and re-defining of medical death in a biotechnological era. Dr. Hurren reveals the implicit, explicit and missed body disputes that took second-place to the economics of the national and international commodification of human material in global medical sciences of th
03/03/20231 hour 6 minutes 12 seconds
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Marcus Rediker, "The Slave Ship: A Human History" (Penguin, 2008)

In this widely praised history of an infamous institution, award-winning scholar Marcus Rediker shines a light into the darkest corners of the British and American slave ships of the eighteenth century. Drawing on thirty years of research in maritime archives, court records, diaries, and firsthand accounts, The Slave Ship: A Human History (Penguin, 2008) is riveting and sobering in its revelations, reconstructing in chilling detail a world nearly lost to history: the “floating dungeons” at the forefront of the birth of African American culture. Marcus Rediker is Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. His “histories from below,” including The Slave Ship: A Human History, have won numerous awards, including the George Washington Book Prize, and have been translated into seventeen languages worldwide. He has produced a film, Ghosts of Amistad, with director Tony Buba, and written a play, “The Return of Benjamin Lay,” with playwright Naomi Wallace. He
03/03/202356 minutes 30 seconds
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Geoffrey Parker and Colin Martin, "Armada: The Spanish Enterprise and England's Deliverance In 1588" (Yale UP, 2022)

In July 1588 the Spanish Armada sailed from Corunna to conquer England. Three weeks later an English fireship attack in the Channel--and then a fierce naval battle--foiled the planned invasion. Many myths still surround these events. The genius of Sir Francis Drake is exalted, while Spain's efforts are belittled. But what really happened during that fateful encounter? Drawing on archives from around the world, Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker also deploy vital new evidence from Armada shipwrecks off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. Their gripping, beautifully illustrated account provides a fresh understanding of how the rival fleets came into being; how they looked, sounded, and smelled; and what happened when they finally clashed. Looking beyond the events of 1588 to the complex politics which made war between England and Spain inevitable, and at the political and dynastic aftermath, Armada: The Spanish Enterprise and England's Deliverance In 1588 (Yale UP, 2022) deconstructs the m
03/03/20231 hour 7 minutes 33 seconds
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Isabel Huacuja Alonso, "Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders" (Columbia UP, 2022)

From news about World War II to the broadcasting of music from popular movies, radio played a crucial role in an increasingly divided South Asia for more than half a century. Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders (Columbia University Press, 2023) by Isabel Huacuja Alonso examines the history of Hindi-Urdu radio during the height of its popularity from the 1930s to the 1980s, showing how it created transnational communities of listeners. Huacuja Alonso argues that despite British, Indian, and Pakistani politicians’ efforts to usurp the medium for state purposes, radio largely escaped their grasp. She demonstrates that the medium enabled listeners and broadcasters to resist the cultural, linguistic, and political agendas of the British colonial administration and the subsequent independent Indian and Pakistani governments. Rather than being merely a tool of nation building in South Asia, radio created affective links that defied state agendas, policies, and borde
02/03/202341 minutes 31 seconds
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Frances Howard, "Global Perspectives on Youth Arts Programs: How and Why the Arts Can Make a Difference" (Policy Press, 2022)

How can the arts make the world a better place? In Global Perspectives on Youth Arts Programs: How and Why the Arts Can Make a Difference (Policy Press, 2022), Frances Howard, a Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Care and Community at Nottingham Trent University, analyses the opportunities for social change and social justice offered by youth arts programmes. The book combines a detailed ethnography of a youth arts programme in the UK, along with rich and detailed comparative case studies. Drawing on a wealth of cross- and interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks, the book is both a critique and defence of the possibilities offered by engagement with the arts. The book will be essential reading across arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as for anyone with an interest in the arts. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Sheffield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium memb
27/02/202341 minutes 24 seconds
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Caroline Dodds Pennock, "On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe" (Knopf, 2023)

On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe (Knopf, 2023) by Dr. Caroline Dodds Pennock presents a landmark work of narrative history that shatters our Eurocentric understanding of the Age of Discovery. We have long been taught to presume that modern global history began when the “Old World” encountered the “New”, when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492. But, as Dr. Pennock conclusively shows in this groundbreaking book, for tens of thousands of Aztecs, Maya, Totonacs, Inuit and others—enslaved people, diplomats, explorers, servants, traders—the reverse was true: they discovered Europe. For them, Europe comprised savage shores, a land of riches and marvels, yet perplexing for its brutal disparities of wealth and quality of life, and its baffling beliefs. The story of these Indigenous Americans abroad is a story of abduction, loss, cultural appropriation, and, as they saw it, of apocalypse. From the Brazilian king who met Henry VIII to the Aztecs who mock
26/02/20231 hour 15 seconds
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Anthony Bale, "Margery Kempe: A Mixed Life" (Reaktion Books, 2022)

Margery Kempe: A Mixed Life (Reaktion Books, 2022) is a new account of the medieval mystic and pilgrim Margery Kempe. Kempe, who had fourteen children, traveled all over Europe and recorded a series of unusual events and religious visions in her work The Book of Margery Kempe, which is often called the first autobiography in the English language. Anthony Bale charts Kempe’s life and tells her story through the places, relationships, objects, and experiences that influenced her. Extensive quotations from Kempe’s Book accompany generous illustrations, giving a fascinating insight into the life of a medieval woman. Margery Kempe is situated within the religious controversies of her time, and her religious visions and later years put in context. And lastly, Bale tells the extraordinary story of the rediscovery, in the 1930s, of the unique manuscript of her autobiography. Anthony Bale is professor of medieval studies at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published many articles and book
25/02/20231 hour 21 minutes 10 seconds
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Adrian Fraser, "The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage" (U West Indies Press, 2016)

St Vincent was among the earliest of the British Caribbean colonies to have experienced labour disturbances in the 1930s. While disturbances in the other Caribbean colonies were largely associated with the plantations and with strikes, in St Vincent the riots broke out on the grounds of the court house during a meeting of the Legislative Council on the upper floor. The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage (U West Indies Press, 2016) is the first comprehensive treatment of those disturbances. Fraser's analysis is to a large extent informed by the use of newspapers and of oral history. In St Vincent, the plantations no longer had total dominance of the colony's export economy. Instead, peasants, farmers and agricultural labourers were major players in an export economy that had shifted from sugar production to Sea Island cotton and arrowroot, crops that were suited to the lands to which they had access. Of added significance to the events following the riots was the fac
25/02/20232 hours 21 minutes 9 seconds
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Nicolai Jørgensgaard Graakjær, "The Sounds of Spectators at Football" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

The sounds of spectators at football (soccer) are often highlighted – by spectators, tourists, commentators, journalists, scholars, media producers, etc. – as crucial for the experience of football. These sounds are often said to contribute significantly to the production (at the stadium) and conveyance (in televised broadcast) of 'atmosphere.' The Sounds of Spectators at Football (Bloomsbury, 2023) by Dr. Nicolai Jørgensgaard Graakjær addresses why and how spectator sounds contribute to the experience of watching in these environments and what characterises spectator sounds in terms of their structure, distribution and significance. Based on an examination of empirical materials – including the sounds of football matches from the English Premier League as they emerge both at the stadium and in the televised broadcast – this book systematically dissects the sounds of football watching. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict mili
25/02/20231 hour 2 minutes 14 seconds
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Joseph T. Stuart, "Christopher Dawson: A Cultural Mind in the Age of the Great War" (Catholic U of America Press, 2022)

Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) was a British historian who was deeply shaken by the Great War (1914-1918) and sought to explore the history of different cultures and religions to understand the catastrophe that had befallen the modern world. In doing so, Dawson would develop a “cultural mind” that served to guide his style of scholarship; it was interdisciplinary by nature (incorporating anthropology, sociology, history, and comparative religion). This ran contrary to the prevalent academic trend towards specialization that continues to this day. To explore the scholarly achievement of Christopher Dawson is the subject of Joseph T. Stuart’s Christopher Dawson: A Cultural Mind in the Age of the Great War (‎The Catholic University of America Press, 2022). Joseph T. Stuart is Associate Professor of History and Fellow in Catholic Studies at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, USA. H grew up in rural Michigan and have taught in Canada, onion-farmed in Texas, and lived in Scotl
24/02/20231 hour 24 minutes 23 seconds
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Elizabeth Lhost, "Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia" (UNC Press, 2022)

Beginning in the late eighteenth century, British rule transformed the relationship between law, society, and the state in South Asia. But professionals, alongside ordinary people without formal training in law, fought back as the colonial system in India sidelined Islamic legal experts. They petitioned the East India Company for employment, lobbied imperial legislators for recognition, and built robust institutions to serve their communities. By bringing legal debates into the public sphere, they resisted the colonial state’s authority over personal law and rejected legal codification by embracing flexibility and possibility. Following these developments from the beginning of the Raj through independence, Elizabeth Lhost, South Asia Digital Librarian for the Center for Research Libraries, rejects narratives of stagnation and decline and shows in Everyday Islamic Law and the Making of Modern South Asia (UNC Press, 2022), how an unexpected coterie of scholars, practitioners, and ordinar
24/02/202356 minutes 43 seconds
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Oren Kessler, "Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023)

In spring 1936, the Holy Land erupted in a rebellion that targeted both the local Jewish community and the British Mandate authorities that for two decades had midwifed the Zionist project. The Great Arab Revolt would last three years, cost thousands of lives—Jewish, British, and Arab—and cast the trajectory for the Middle East conflict ever since. Yet incredibly, no history of this seminal, formative first “Intifada” has ever been published for a general audience. The 1936–1939 revolt was the crucible in which Palestinian identity coalesced, uniting rival families, city and country, rich and poor in a single struggle for independence. Yet the rebellion would ultimately turn on itself, shredding the social fabric, sidelining pragmatists in favor of extremists, and propelling waves of refugees from their homes. British forces’ aggressive counterinsurgency took care of the rest, finally quashing the uprising on the eve of World War II. The revolt to end Zionism had instead crushed the Ar
21/02/20231 hour 26 minutes 55 seconds
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Leila Jancovich and David Stevenson, "Failures in Cultural Participation" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022)

For the past two decades, the arts and cultural establishment in the UK has been trying to engage a broader set of audiences in their work. Countless initiatives to make the arts more accessible to the public and to make them more relevant have been advocated for in policy and funding settlements. But the dial on who participates and how much has not shifted, despite many thousands of projects trying to address the problem. And this isn’t even the punchline. Not only do the interventions not work, nobody involved in them admits that the interventions may have been a failure. Having spent many years working in cultural policy studies and in arts practice, Leila Jancovich and David Stevenson take the arts and culture sector to task over this fiction. Their book Failures in Cultural Participation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022) puts a mirror to the industry and invites cultural policymakers, organisations, and practitioners to confront their failures. David Stevenson speaks to Pierre d’Alancai
20/02/20231 hour 7 minutes 38 seconds
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Alan Meades, "Arcade Britannia: A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade" (MIT Press, 2022)

The story of the British amusement arcade from the 1800s to the present.  Amusement arcades are an important part of British culture, yet discussions of them tend to be based on American models. Alan Meades, who spent his childhood happily playing in British seaside arcades, presents the history of the arcade from its origins in traveling fairs of the 1800s to the present. Drawing on firsthand accounts of industry members and archival sources, including rare photographs and trade publications, he tells the story of the first arcades, the people who made the machines, the rise of video games, and the legislative and economic challenges spurred by public fears of moral decline.  Arcade Britannia: A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade (MIT Press, 2022) highlights the differences between British and North American arcades, especially in terms of the complex relationship between gambling and amusements. He also underlines Britain’s role in introducing coin-operated technologies i
18/02/202355 minutes 15 seconds
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Mary C. Flannery, "Practicing Shame: Female Honour in Later Medieval England" (Manchester UP, 2019)

Practicing shame investigates how the literature of medieval England encouraged women to safeguard their honour by cultivating hypervigilance against the possibility of sexual shame. A combination of inward reflection and outward comportment, this practice of 'shamefastness' was believed to reinforce women's chastity of mind and body, and to communicate that chastity to others by means of conventional gestures.  Practicing Shame: Female Honour in Later Medieval England (Manchester UP, 2019) uncovers the paradoxes and complications that emerged from these emotional practices, as well as the ways in which they were satirised and reappropriated by male authors. Working at the intersection of literary studies, gender studies and the history of emotions, it transforms our understanding of the ethical construction of femininity in the past and provides a new framework for thinking about honourable womanhood now and in the years to come. Mary C. Flannery is a Swiss National Science Foundation
15/02/202343 minutes 21 seconds
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Kathy E. Ferguson, "Letterpress Revolution: The Politics of Anarchist Print Culture" (Duke UP, 2023)

While the stock image of the anarchist as a masked bomber or brick thrower prevails in the public eye, a more representative figure should be a printer at a printing press. In Letterpress Revolution: The Politics of Anarchist Print Culture (Duke UP, 2023), Kathy E. Ferguson explores the importance of printers, whose materials galvanized anarchist movements across the United States and Great Britain from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s. Ferguson shows how printers—whether working at presses in homes, offices, or community centers—arranged text, ink, images, graphic markers, and blank space within the architecture of the page. Printers' extensive correspondence with fellow anarchists and the radical ideas they published created dynamic and entangled networks that brought the decentralized anarchist movements together. Printers and presses did more than report on the movement; they were constitutive of it, and their vitality in anarchist communities helps explain anarchism’s rema
15/02/202355 minutes 17 seconds
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Spencer Jones, "The Darkest Year: The British Army on the Western Front 1917" (Helion and Company, 2021)

In The Darkest Year: The British Army on the Western Front 1917 (Helion and Company, 2021), leading First World War historians examine key aspects of the British Army's campaign on the Western Front in 1917. It includes studies of the Battle of Arras, Third Battle of Ypres, and Battle of Cambrai, as well as examinations of British Army strategy, morale, tactics, training, and intelligence gathering. It is the fourth book in Spencer Jones's award-winning series which examines the British Army on the Western Front year-by-year and marks a major contribution to our understanding of the Army in this controversial year. Philip Blood is a British born independent historian and freelance author living in Aachen, Germany. Previously senior fellow at the American in Berlin, a military history advisor to the Association of the US Army Book Program, and senior lecturer as RWTH-Aachen (Technical University). Previous lecturer positions at Surrey University and London University. Learn more about y
14/02/20231 hour 30 minutes 49 seconds
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Lisa Haushofer, "Wonder Foods: The Science and Commerce of Nutrition" (U California Press, 2022)

From Gail Borden’s meat biscuit to John Harvey Kellogg’s peptogenic foods for race betterment and Fleishmann’s yeast as both technology of empire and imperfect tool of the global struggle with malnutrition, Lisa Haushofer’s Wonder Foods: The Science and Commerce of Nutrition (University of California Press, 2022) brings together case studies of American and British foods developed and marketed in the century 1840-1940 as modern, scientific miracles of nutritional efficiency―of “doing more.”  Wonder Foods deepens our understanding of the dramatic transformations of science, commerce, and their relationship during that century; the effects that those changes had on how food was conceptualized and consumed; and the ways in which these foods were entangled with destructive forces including imperialism and eugenics, racism and sexism.  Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages. Learn more about your
14/02/20231 hour 1 minute 59 seconds
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Suzanne Francis-Brown, "World War II Camps in Jamaica: Refugees, Internees, Prisoners of War" (U West Indies Press, 2022)

Between 1939 and 1947, the Caribbean island of Jamaica--then a British colony--was haven or detention centre for thousands of displaced Europeans; an often under-recognized contribution to the Allied war effort. A civilian camp accommodated evacuees from Gibraltar and, belatedly, provided sanctuary for groups of mainly Jewish refugees. Others who had fled Europe ahead of looming fascist threats would be interned in military detention camps whose populations were swollen by German and Italian civilians from several British West African colonies, co-mingled for convenience with hundreds of German and Italian merchant mariners captured at sea during the early months of the war. Suzanne Francis-Brown's book World War II Camps in Jamaica: Refugees, Internees, Prisoners of War (U West Indies Press, 2022) disentangles the conditions under which these various populations were held, drawing on primary records, personal accounts and media coverage; noting differences and similarities in their ma
12/02/20231 hour 46 minutes 28 seconds
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M. Christhu Doss, "India after the 1857 Revolt: Decolonising the Mind" (Routledge, 2022)

In India after the 1857 Revolt: Decolonising the Mind (Routledge, 2022), M. Christhu Doss brings together some of the most cutting-edge thoughts by challenging the cultural project of colonialism and critically examining the multi-dimensional aspects of decolonization during and after the 1857 revolt. He demonstrates that the deep-rooted popular discontent among the Indian masses, followed by the revolt, generated a distinctive form of decolonization movement—redemptive nationalism that challenged both the supremacy of the British Raj and the cultural imperatives of the controversial proselytizing missionary agencies. Doss argues that the quests for decolonization (of mind) that got triggered by the revolt were further intensified by the Indocentric national education; the historic Chicago discourse of Swami Vivekananda; the nonviolent anti-colonial struggles of Mahatma Gandhi; the seditious political activism displayed by the Western Gandhian missionary satyagrahis; and the de-Western
12/02/202350 minutes 52 seconds
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The Future of the News: A Discussion with Roger Mosey

What is the future of news? In the twentieth century Western-educated journalists championed impartial, unbiased news – which always seemed rather odd as everyone agreed it wasn’t possible for journalists to shed all their biases. That fundamental contradiction has been replaced by something even more problematic – fake news and worse than that, fake news which people believe and even the idea that everyone can publish their own news. So where are we headed in the twenty first century. Roger Mosey was a senior BBC editor and is now master of Selwyn College Cambridge Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.
11/02/202333 minutes 53 seconds
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Jane Hwang Degenhardt, "Globalizing Fortune on the Early Modern Stage" (Oxford UP, 2022)

How were understandings of chance, luck, and fortune affected by early capitalist developments such as the global expansion of English trade and colonial exploration? And how could the recognition that fortune wielded a powerful force in the world be squared with Protestant beliefs about the all-controlling hand of divine providence? Was everything pre-determined, or was there room for chance and human agency?  Jane Hwang Degenhardt's book Globalizing Fortune on the Early Modern Stage (Oxford UP, 2022) addresses these questions by demonstrating how English economic expansion and global transformation produced a new philosophy of fortune oriented around discerning and optimizing unexpected opportunities. The popular theater played an influential role in dramatizing the new prospects and dangers opened up by nascent global economics and fostering a set of ethical practices for engaging with fortune's unpredictable turns. While largely derided as a sinful, earthly distraction in the Boeth
10/02/20231 hour 12 minutes 36 seconds
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John Goodlad, "The Salt Roads: How Fish Made a Culture" (Birlinn, 2022)

The Salt Roads: How Fish Made a Culture (Birlinn, 2022) by John Goodlad is the extraordinary story of how salt fish from Shetland became one of the staple foods of Europe, powered an economic boom and inspired artists, writers and musicians. It ranges from the wild waters of the North Atlantic, the ice-filled fjords of Greenland and the remote islands of Faroe to the dining tables of London’s middle classes, the bacalao restaurants of Spain and the Jewish shtetls of Eastern Europe. As well as following the historical thread and exploring how very different cultures were drawn together by the salt fish trade, Goodlad meets those whose lives revolve around the industry in the twenty-first century and addresses today’s pressing themes of sustainability, climate change and food choices. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualita
10/02/20231 hour 6 minutes 54 seconds
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Francis M. Carroll, "America and the Making of an Independent Ireland: A History" (NYU Press, 2021)

On Easter Day 1916, more than a thousand Irishmen stormed Dublin city center, seizing the General Post Office building and reading the Proclamation for an independent Irish Republic. The British declared martial law shortly afterward, and the rebellion was violently quashed by the military. In a ten-day period after the event, fourteen leaders of the uprising were executed by firing squad. In New York, news of the uprising spread quickly among the substantial Irish American population. Initially the media blamed German interference, but eventually news of British-propagated atrocities came to light, and Irish Americans were quick to respond. America and the Making of an Independent Ireland: A History (NYU Press, 2021) centres on the diplomatic relationship between Ireland and the United States at the time of Irish Independence and World War I. Beginning with the Rising of 1916, Francis M. Carroll chronicles how Irish Americans responded to the movement for Irish independence and pressu
08/02/202334 minutes 2 seconds
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Ben Burgis, "Christopher Hitchens: What He Got Right, How He Went Wrong, and Why He Still Matters" (Zero Books, 2022)

In Christopher Hitchens: What He Got Right, How He Went Wrong, and Why He Still Matters (Zero Books, 2022), Ben Burgis reminds readers about what was best in Hitchens's writings and helps us gain a better understanding of how someone whose whole political life was animated by the values of the socialist left could have ended up holding grotesque positions on Iraq and the War on Terror. Burgis' book makes a case for the enduring importance of engaging with Hitchen's complicated legacy. Ben Burgis is a Jacobin columnist, an adjunct philosophy professor at Morehouse College, and the host of the YouTube show and podcast Give Them An Argument. Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphon
07/02/20231 hour 8 minutes 40 seconds
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Matthew Taylor, "Sport and the Home Front: Wartime Britain at Play, 1939-45" (Routledge, 2020)

Today we are joined by Matthew Taylor, Professor of History at De Montfort University, and author of Sport and the Home Front: Wartime Britain at Play, 1939-1945 (Routledge, 2022). In our conversation, we discussed why studies of British sport histories have frequently neglected the Second World War, how various arms of the British state attempted to mobilize sport during the conflict, and how and why ordinary people included sport in their everyday life despite the deprivations of the era. In Sport and the Home Front, Taylor uses a range of historical sources, including state documents, newspapers, diaries and memories, and most especially reports from Mass Observation, in order to better understand why and how people played sport in Britain during the Second World War. He shows that sport was both more commonplace and more meaningful than previous historians have assumed. Sport thus provided a lens to examine whether, in what ways, and to what extent the Second World War was a people
04/02/20231 hour 8 minutes 33 seconds
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Curtis Runstedler, "Alchemy and Exemplary Poetry in Middle English Literature" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023)

Curtis Runstedler's book Alchemy and Exemplary Poetry in Middle English Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) explores the different functions and metaphorical concepts of alchemy in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Middle English poetry and bridges them together with the exempla tradition in late medieval English literature. Such poetic narratives function as exemplary models which directly address the ambiguity of medieval English alchemical practice. This book examines the foundation of this relationship between alchemical narrative and exemplum in the poetry of Gower and Chaucer in the fourteenth century before exploring its diffusion in lesser-known anonymous poems and recipes in the fifteenth century, namely alchemical dialogues between Morienus and Merlin, Albertus Magnus and the Queen of Elves, and an alchemical version of John Lydgate’s poem The Churl and the Bird. It investigates how this exemplarity can be read as inherent to understanding poetic narratives containing alche
03/02/202359 minutes 21 seconds
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Angela Hui, "Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood Behind the Counter" (Trapeze, 2022)

Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter (Trapeze, 2022), she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain: Name me one other room where you can blow out birthday candles, watch a live drunken boxing match between two rowdy customers, enjoy a steam facial from the multiple Boxing Day hot pots bubbling away on portable gas stoves, witness a hen party aftermath where the bride-to-be is sick in the corner, host a high-stakes mahjong tournament with three tables going at once, and hold an unofficial Six Nations rugby viewing, where chips and fried rice is strewn everywhere whenever Wales score a try. Angela Hui is an award-winning journalist and editor from South Wales. Her work
02/02/202344 minutes 48 seconds
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The 10,000 Year Build-Up to Brexit: A Conversation with Ian Morris

How did Britain become a global superpower? Historian and classicist Ian Morris thinks geography has a lot to do with it. Prof. Morris discusses his latest book, Geography is Destiny: Britain and the World: A 10,000 Year History (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022) which traces the long history of Britain's complex relationship with the European continent. He draws surprising parallels between characters ranging from the Roman Britons and Nigel Farage, to the Papacy and the European Union. Prof. Ian Morris is the Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor of Classics and Professor in History at Stanford University, as well as the author of the critically acclaimed Why the West Rules—for Now (Picador, 2011). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
01/02/20231 hour 6 minutes 28 seconds
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Book Talk 57: Anne Fernald and Rajgopal Saikumar on Virginia Woolf's "Three Guineas" (1938)

Virginia Woolf’s 1938 provocative and polemical essay Three Guineas presents the iconic writer’s views on war, women, and the way the patriarchy at home oppresses women in ways that resemble those of fascism abroad. Two great Woolf experts, Professor Anne Fernald, editor of two editions of Mrs. Dalloway which she movingly discusses on another Think About It episode, and Rajgopal Saikumar, who is completing a dissertation on Woolf, Hurston, Baldwin and Gandhi and the “duty to disobey” at NYU, explain Woolf’s arguments, the reasons for the shocked response by most of her peers, and why Three Guineas remains so relevant for our time. Uli Baer teaches literature and photography as University Professor at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim, Getty and Humboldt awards, in addition to hosting "Think About It” he hosts (with Caroline Weber) the podcast "The Proust Questionnaire” and is Editorial Director at Warbler Press. Email [email protected]; Twitter @UliBaer. Learn more about your
30/01/20231 hour 9 minutes 35 seconds
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Corey Lee Wrenn, "Animals in Irish Society: Interspecies Oppression and Vegan Liberation in Britain's First Colony" (SUNY Press, 2021)

Irish vegan studies are poised for increasing relevance as climate change threatens the legitimacy and longevity of animal agriculture and widespread health problems related to animal product consumption disrupt long held nutritional ideologies. Already a top producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, Ireland has committed to expanding animal agriculture despite impending crisis. The nexus of climate change, public health, and animal welfare present a challenge to the hegemony of the Irish state and neoliberal European governance. Efforts to resist animal rights and environmentalism highlight the struggle to sustain economic structures of inequality in a society caught between a colonialist past and a globalized future.  Animals in Irish Society: Interspecies Oppression and Vegan Liberation in Britain's First Colony (SUNY Press, 2021) explores the vegan Irish epistemology, one that can be traced along its history of animism, agrarianism, ascendency, adaptation, and act
28/01/20231 hour 23 minutes 40 seconds
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David S. Painter and Gregory Brew, "The Struggle for Iran: Oil, Autocracy, and the Cold War, 1951-1954" (UNC Press, 2023)

Beginning with the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry in spring 1951 and ending with its reversal following the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in August 1953, the Iranian oil crisis was a crucial turning point in the global Cold War. The nationalization challenged Great Britain's preeminence in the Middle East and threatened Western oil concessions everywhere. Fearing the loss of Iran and possibly the entire Middle East and its oil to communist control, the United States and Great Britain played a key role in the ouster of Mosaddeq, a constitutional nationalist opposed to communism and Western imperialism. U.S. intervention helped entrench monarchical power, and the reversal of Iran's nationalization confirmed the dominance of Western corporations over the resources of the Global South for the next twenty years. Drawing on years of research in American, British, and Iranian sources, David S. Painter and Gregory Brew provide a concise and accessible account of Co
28/01/20231 hour 17 minutes 18 seconds
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Francesca Sobande and layla-roxanne hill. "Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

What does it mean to be Black in Scotland today? How are notions of nationhood, Scottishness, and Britishness implicated in this? Why is it important to archive and understand Black Scottish history? In Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland (Bloomsbury, 2022) Dr. Francesca Sobande and layla-roxanne hill explore the history and contemporary lives of Black people in Scotland; reflecting on the past to make sense of the present. Based on intergenerational interviews, survey responses, photography, and analysis of media and archived material, this book offers a unique snapshot of Black Scottish history and recent 21st century realities. Focusing on a wide range of experiences of education, work, activism, media, creativity, public life, and politics, Black Oot Here presents a vital account of Black lives in Scotland, while carefully considering the future that may lie ahead. A transcript of this interview is available here.  This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose docto
27/01/202347 minutes 27 seconds
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Uther Charlton-Stevens, "Anglo-India and the End of Empire" (Oxford UP, 2022)

It can be easy to think of colonies as having two populations: colonial subjects, and colonial overlords from Europe. It’s an easy narrative: one has power, status and privilege, the other does not. But in practice, European colonies created many populations in-between: groups who benefited from imperial power, yet not one of the elite. Britain’s almost two-and-a-half centuries-long presence in India created its own local Eurasian community: the Anglo-Indians, the descendents of marriages between English (or other Europeans) and local Indians. They’re the subject of a recent book from Uther Charlton-Stevens–himself of Anglo-Indian descent–titled Anglo-India and the End of Empire (Oxford UP. 2022) In this interview, Uther and I talk about this community, beneficiaries of–yet also ignored by–the British Empire, and their attempts to find a place for themselves in either the U.K. or an independent India. Uther is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and also the author of Anglo-Indians a
26/01/202341 minutes
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Wolfgang P. Müller, "Marriage Litigation in the Western Church, 1215-1517" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

Wolfgang Muller, Marriage Litigation in the Western Church, 1215- 1517 (Cambridge University Press, 2021). From the establishment of a coherent doctrine on sacramental marriage to the eve of the Reformation, late medieval church courts were used for marriage cases in a variety of ways. Ranging widely across Western Europe, including the Upper and Lower Rhine regions, England, Italy, Catalonia, and Castile, this study explores the stark discrepancies in practice between the North of Europe and the South. Wolfgang P. Müller draws attention to the existence of public penitential proceedings in the North and their absence in the South, and explains the difference in demand, as well as highlighting variations in how individuals obtained written documentation of their marital status. Integrating legal and theological perspectives on marriage with late medieval social history, Müller addresses critical questions around the relationship between the church and medieval marriage, and what this r
21/01/202353 minutes 49 seconds
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The Future of the European Left

Why is it so hard for left wing parties in the West to win elections? Some such as the UK Labour Party have headed to the centre. The history of Labour since 1979 tells the story – their record goes lost, lost, lost, lost, Blair, Blair, Blair, lost, lost, lost, lost. But what does heading the centre consist of? And are their alternative strategies? Listen to Owen Bennett Jones discuss leftist parties and what they need to do to win with Eunice Goes of the Richmond American International University. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A former BBC correspondent and presenter he has been a resident foreign correspondent in Bucharest, Geneva, Islamabad, Hanoi and Beirut. He is recently wrote a history of the Bhutto dynasty which was published by Yale University Press. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
20/01/202348 minutes 58 seconds
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Marion Turner, "The Wife of Bath: A Biography" (Princeton UP, 2023)

Ever since her triumphant debut in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath, arguably the first ordinary and recognisably real woman in English literature, has obsessed readers--from Shakespeare to James Joyce, Voltaire to Pasolini, Dryden to Zadie Smith. Few literary characters have led such colourful lives or matched her influence or capacity for reinvention in poetry, drama, fiction, and film. In The Wife of Bath: A Biography (Princeton UP, 2023), Marion Turner tells the fascinating story of where Chaucer's favourite character came from, how she related to real medieval women, and where her many travels have taken her since the fourteenth century, from Falstaff and Molly Bloom to #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. A sexually active and funny working woman, the Wife of Bath, also known as Alison, talks explicitly about sexual pleasure. She is also a victim of domestic abuse who tells a story of rape and redemption. Formed from misogynist sources, she plays with stereotypes. Turner se
17/01/202346 minutes 13 seconds
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Stuart Carroll, "Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe" (Cambridge UP, 2023)

Stuart Carroll's Enmity and Violence in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2023) transforms our understanding of Europe between 1500 and 1800 by exploring how ordinary people felt about their enemies and the violence it engendered. Enmity, a state or feeling of mutual opposition or hostility, became a major social problem during the transition to modernity. He examines how people used the law, and how they characterised their enmities and expressed their sense of justice or injustice. Through the examples of early modern Italy, Germany, France and England, we see when and why everyday animosities escalated and the attempts of the state to control and even exploit the violence that ensued. This book also examines the communal and religious pressures for peace, and how notions of good neighbourliness and civil order finally worked to underpin trust in the state. Ultimately, enmity is not a relic of the past; it remains one of the greatest challenges to contemporary liberal
16/01/202352 minutes 9 seconds
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Richard Davenport-Hines, "Conservative Thinkers from All Souls College Oxford" (Boydell & Brewer, 2022)

All Souls College Oxford was one of the meeting points of English public intellectuals in the twentieth century. Its Fellows prided themselves on agreeing in everything except their opinions. They included Cabinet Ministers from all the three major parties, and academics of diverse political allegiances, who met for frank conversations and lively disagreements. Davenport-Hines investigates historic strands of conservative thought: aversion to rapid and disruptive change, mistrust of majority opinions, prizing of community loyalties and pride over the assertion of aggressive individualism, the recession of the Church of England, and the impact of militarism. Conservative Thinkers from All Souls College Oxford (Boydell & Brewer, 2022) draws on the ideas of two conservative thinkers, 'Trimmer' Halifax and Michael Oakeshott, to examine the conservative assumptions, ideas, writings and influence of seven Fellows of All Souls from the last century. Their brands of conservatism regarded popul
15/01/20231 hour 55 seconds
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Ciara Breathnach, "Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class: Dublin City Coroner's Court, 1876-1902" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Ciara Breathnach's book Ordinary Lives, Death, and Social Class: Dublin City Coroner's Court, 1876-1902 (Oxford UP, 2022) focuses on the evolution of the Dublin City Coroner's Court and on Dr Louis A. Bryne's first two years in office. Wrapping itself around the 1901 census, the study uses gender, power, and blame as analytical frameworks to examine what inquests can tell us about the impact of urban living from lifecycle and class perspectives. Coroners' inquests are a combination of eyewitness testimony, expert medico-legal language, detailed minutiae of people, places, and occupational identities pinned to a moment in time. Thus they have a simultaneous capacity to reveal histories from both above and below. Rich in geographical, socio-economic, cultural, class, and medical detail, these records collated in a liminal setting about the hour of death bear incredible witness to what has often been termed 'ordinary lives'. The subjects of Dr Byrne's court were among the poorest in Irela
10/01/20231 hour 9 minutes 7 seconds
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Urvashi Chakravarty, "Fictions of Consent: Slavery, Servitude, and Free Service in Early Modern England" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022)

In Fictions of Consent: Slavery, Servitude, and Free Service in Early Modern England (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022), Urvashi Chakravarty excavates the ideologies of slavery that took root in early modern England in the period that preceded the development of an organized trade in enslaved persons. Despite the persistent fiction that England was innocent of racialized slavery, Chakravarty argues that we must hold early modern England—and its narratives of exceptional and essential freedom—to account for the frameworks of slavery that it paradoxically but strategically engendered. Slavery was not a foreign or faraway phenomenon, she demonstrates; rather, the ideologies of slavery were seeded in the quotidian spaces of English life and in the everyday contexts of England's service society, from the family to the household, in the theater and, especially, the grammar school classroom, where the legacies of classical slavery and race were inherited and negotiated. The English conscripted the
07/01/20231 hour 7 minutes 9 seconds
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On W. H. Auden

In 1983, ten years after W. H. Auden’s death, the New York Institute for the Humanities organized a series of readings and discussions of his work. In this episode from the Vault, Edward Mendelson, Auden's literary executor, moderates a discussion between Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
05/01/202325 minutes 17 seconds
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Rebecca Binns, "Gee Vaucher: Beyond Punk, Feminism and the Avant-Garde" (Manchester UP, 2022)

Rebecca Binn's Gee Vaucher: Beyond Punk, Feminism and the Avante Garde (Manchester University Press, 2022) is the first book-length work dedicated to the life and career of Vaucher. As one of the people who defined punk's protest art in the 1970s and 1980s, Gee Vaucher (b. 1945) deserves to be much better-known. She produced confrontational album covers for the legendary anarchist band Crass and later went on to do the same for Northern indie legends the Charlatans, among others. More recently, her work was recognized the day after Donald Trump's 2016 election victory, when the front page of the Daily Mirror ran her 1989 painting Oh America, which shows the Statue of Liberty, head in hands. This is the first book to critically assess an extensive range of Vaucher's work. It examines her unique position connecting avant-garde art movements, counterculture, punk and even contemporary street art. While Vaucher rejects all 'isms', her work offers a unique take on the history of feminist ar
02/01/202333 minutes 12 seconds
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Jed Rasula, "What the Thunder Said: How 'The Waste Land' Made Poetry Modern" (Princeton UP, 2022)

When T. S. Eliot published The Waste Land in 1922, it put the thirty-four-year-old author on a path to worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize. "But," as Jed Rasula writes, "The Waste Land is not only a poem: it names an event, like a tornado or an earthquake. Its publication was a watershed, marking a before and after. It was a poem that unequivocally declared that the ancient art of poetry had become modern." In What the Thunder Said: How 'The Waste Land' Made Poetry Modern (Princeton UP, 2022), Rasula tells the story of how The Waste Land changed poetry forever and how this cultural bombshell served as a harbinger of modernist revolution in all the arts, from abstraction in visual art to atonality in music. From its famous opening, "April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land," to its closing Sanskrit mantra, "Shantih shantih shantih," The Waste Land combined singular imagery, experimental technique, and dense allusions, boldly fulfilling Ezra Pound's injunction
28/12/202249 minutes 24 seconds
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Garritt van Dyk, "Commerce, Food, and Identity in Seventeenth-Century England and France" (Amsterdam UP, 2022)

Garritt van Dyk talks about national identity, food, and cooking in this conversation about Commerce, Food, and Identity in Seventeenth-Century England and France: Across the Channel (Amsterdam University Press, 2022) "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are" was the challenge issued by French gastronomist Jean Brillat-Savarin. Champagne is declared a unique emblem of French sophistication and luxury, linked to the myth of its invention by Dom Pérignon. Across the Channel, a cup of sweet tea is recognized as a quintessentially English icon, simultaneously conjuring images of empire, civility, and relentless rain that demands the sustenance and comfort that only tea can provide. How did these tastes develop in the seventeenth century? Commerce, Food, and Identity in Seventeenth-Century England and France: Across the Channel offers a compelling historical narrative of the relationship between food, national identity, and political economy in the early modern period. These mut
26/12/20221 hour 12 minutes 7 seconds
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Anatoly Liberman, "Take My Word for It: A Dictionary of English Idioms" (U Minnesota Press, 2023)

Three centuries of English idioms—their unusual origins and unexpected interpretations. To pay through the nose. Raining cats and dogs. By hook or by crook. Curry favor. Drink like a fish. Eat crow. We hear such phrases every day, but this book is the first truly all-encompassing etymological guide to both their meanings and origins. Spanning more than three centuries, Take My Word for It: A Dictionary of English Idioms (U Minnesota Press, 2023) is a fascinating, one-of-a-kind window into the surprisingly short history of idioms in English. Widely known for his studies of word origins, Anatoly Liberman explains more than one thousand idioms, both popular and obscure, occurring in both American and British standard English and including many regional expressions. The origins, and even the precise meaning, of most idioms are often obscure and lost in history. Based on a critical analysis of countless conjectures, with exact, in-depth references (rare in the literature on the subject), Ta
25/12/202248 minutes 33 seconds
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Stephen Dobranski, "Reading John Milton: How to Persist in Troubled Times" (Stanford UP, 2022)

John Milton is unrivalled--for the music of his verse and the breadth of his learning. In this brisk, topical, and engaging biography, Stephen B. Dobranski brushes the scholarly dust from the portrait of the artist to reveal Milton's essential humanity and his unwavering commitment to ideals--freedom of religion and the right and responsibility of all persons to think for themselves--that are still relevant and necessary in our times. Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, is considered by many to be English poetry's masterpiece. Samuel Johnson, not one for effusive praise, claimed that from Milton's books alone the Art of English Poetry might be learned. But Milton's renown rests on more than his artistic achievements. In a time of convulsive political turmoil, he justified the killing of a king, pioneered free speech, and publicly defended divorce. He was, in short, an iconoclast, an independent, even revolutionary, thinker. He was also an imperfect man--acrimonious, sometimes mean. Abov
24/12/202236 minutes 32 seconds
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Justin Dolan Stover, "Enduring Ruin: Environmental Destruction During the Irish" (U College Dublin Press, 2022)

Justin Dolan Stover is Associate Professor of transnational European history at Idaho State University, where he teaches courses on war and violence, modern Irish history, and the world wars. He holds a doctorate in history from Trinity College Dublin and has held several research fellowships throughout Ireland. He is currently a research fellow with the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Amsterdam. In this interview, he discusses his new book, Enduring Ruin: Environmental Destruction During the Irish (U College Dublin Press, 2022), which uncovers the environmental and spatial history of the Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence. The Irish Revolution inflicted unprecedented damage to built-up and natural landscapes between 1916 and 1923. Destruction transcended national and ideological divisions and remained a fixture within Irish urban and rural landscapes years after independence, presenting an Ireland politically transformed yet physically disfigured. Enduring Ruin: E
24/12/202217 minutes 22 seconds
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Michael Sturza, "The London Revolution 1640-1643: Class Struggles in 17th Century England" (The Mad Duck Coalition, 2022)

The London Revolution 1640-1643: Class Struggles in 17th Century England examines the political upheavals that occurred during the reign of Charles the First in London and England more broadly. Michael Sturza offers an analysis that is thoughtfully written and sensitive to the class divisions at the heart of the struggle. Michael Sturza is an author and political activist. Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
23/12/202233 minutes 45 seconds
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Elena Goodwin, "Translating England into Russian: The Politics of Children's Literature in the Soviet Union and Modern Russia" (Bloomsbury, 2021)

From governesses with supernatural powers to motor-car obsessed amphibians, the iconic images of English children's literature helped shape the view of the nation around the world. But, as Translating England into Russian: The Politics of Children's Literature in the Soviet Union and Modern Russia (Bloomsbury, 2021) reveals, Russian translators did not always present the same picture of Englishness that had been painted by authors. In this book, Elena Goodwin explores Russian translations of classic English children's literature, considering how representations of Englishness depended on state ideology and reflected the shifting nature of Russia's political and cultural climate. As Soviet censorship policy imposed restrictions on what and how to translate, this book examines how translation dealt with and built bridges between cultures in a restricted environment in order to represent images of England.  Through analyzing the Soviet and post-Soviet translations of Rudyard Kipling, Kenn
23/12/202255 minutes 25 seconds
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John D. Wong, "Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s-1998" (Harvard UP, 2022)

On July 6, 1998, the last flight took off from Kai Tak International Airport, marking the end of an era for Hong Kong aviation. For decades, international flights flew over the roofs of Kowloon apartments, before landing on Kai Tak’s runway, extending out into the harbor. Kai Tak–frankly, a terrible place for one of the world’s busiest international airports–is a good symbol of the story of Hong Kong’s aviation, as told in Hong Kong Takes Flight: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Global Hub, 1930s–1998 (Harvard University Press, 2022) by John D. Wong and published by Harvard University Press. Hong Kong’s growth as a hub for commercial aviation was often unplanned, often the result of compromise–and yet wildly successful. The city was able to carve a niche for itself, in both the declining British empire and the wider world, while also having to deal with colonial bureaucracy, geopolitics, fierce competition and an entirely new Communist government across the border. In this inter
22/12/202244 minutes 5 seconds
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Noémie Ndiaye, "Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022)

Scripts of Blackness: Early Modern Performance Culture and the Making of Race (U Pennsylvania Press, 2022) shows how the early modern mass media of theatre and performance culture at-large helped turn blackness into a racial category, that is, into a type of difference justifying emerging social hierarchies and power relations in a new world order driven by colonialism and capitalism. In this book, Noémie Ndiaye explores the techniques of impersonation used by white performers to represent Afro-diasporic people in England, France, and Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, using a comparative and transnational framework. She reconstructs three specific performance techniques--black-up (cosmetic blackness), blackspeak (acoustic blackness), and black dances (kinetic blackness)--in order to map out the poetics of those techniques, and track a number of metaphorical strains that early modern playtexts regularly associated with them. Those metaphorical strains, the titular script
21/12/20221 hour 17 minutes 24 seconds
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On William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

William Shakespeare is the greatest writer in history, and Hamlet is his greatest work. In Hamlet, Shakespeare gave us one of the first modern characters in literature. We are invited into the mind of Hamlet, to see how he thinks and acts in the face of love, grief, and revenge. It is a work of deep psychological complexity, and has inspired many writers to explore and reveal the inner lives of their characters. Part of what keeps Hamlet alive is its delicate balance of textured specificity and capacious vagueness. It is specific enough for Hamlet to feel real while also inviting endless interpretations. Michael Dobson is the director of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is the author of “Cutting, interruption, and the end of Hamlet” See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.f
19/12/202229 minutes 5 seconds
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Clara E. Mattei, "The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism" (U Chicago Press, 2022)

A groundbreaking examination of austerity’s dark intellectual origins. For more than a century, governments facing financial crisis have resorted to the economic policies of austerity—cuts to wages, fiscal spending, and public benefits—as a path to solvency. While these policies have been successful in appeasing creditors, they’ve had devastating effects on social and economic welfare in countries all over the world. Today, as austerity remains a favored policy among troubled states, an important question remains: What if solvency was never really the goal?  In The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism (University of Chicago Press, 2022), political economist Clara E. Mattei explores the intellectual origins of austerity to uncover its originating motives: the protection of capital—and indeed capitalism—in times of social upheaval from below. Mattei traces modern austerity to its origins in interwar Britain and Italy, revealing how the threat of w
19/12/20221 hour 2 minutes 31 seconds
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Jane Tynan, "Trench Coat" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Object Lessons is a Bloomsbury series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. This interview focuses on Trench Coat by Dr. Jane Tynan, published in 2022. We think we know the trench coat, but where does it come from and where will it take us? From its origins in the trenches of WW1, this military outerwear came to project the inner-being of detectives, writers, reporters, rebels, artists and intellectuals. The coat outfitted imaginative leaps into the unknown. Trench Coat tells the story of seductive entanglements with technology, time, law, politics, trust and trespass. Readers follow the rise of a sartorial archetype through media, design, literature, cinema and fashion. Today, as a staple in stories of future life-worlds, the trench coat warns of disturbances to come. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civi
19/12/202259 minutes
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Carl Griffin, "The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, 1750-1840" (Manchester UP, 2020)

The eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were supposedly the period in which the threat of famine lifted for the peoples of England. But hunger remained, in the words of Marx, an 'unremitted pressure'. The 1840s witnessed widespread hunger and malnutrition at home and mass starvation in Ireland. And yet the aptly named 'Hungry 40s' came amidst claims that, notwithstanding Malthusian prophecies, absolute biological want had been eliminated in England. The Politics of Hunger: Protest, Poverty and Policy in England, 1750-1840 (Manchester UP, 2020) (Manchester University Press, 2022) by Dr. Carl Griffin offers the first systematic analysis of the ways in which hunger continued to be experienced and feared, both as a lived and constant spectral presence. It also examines how hunger was increasingly used as a disciplining device in new modes of governing the population. Drawing upon a rich archive, this innovative and conceptually-sophisticated study throws new light on how hunger persi
19/12/20221 hour 7 minutes 57 seconds
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Fearghus Roulston, "Belfast Punk and the Troubles: an Oral History" (Manchester UP, 2022)

Belfast Punk and the Troubles: an Oral History (Manchester UP, 2022) is an oral history of Belfast’s punk scene from the mid-1970s to the mid-80s that explores what it was like to be a punk in a city shaped by the violence of the Troubles, and how this differed from being a punk elsewhere. It suggests a critical understanding of sectarianism, subjectivity and memory politics in Northern Ireland, and argues for the importance of placing punk within the segregated structures of everyday life described by the interviewees. Adopting an innovative oral history approach, the book analyses a small number of oral history interviews in granular detail, looking at the punk scene as a structure of feeling shaped through the experience of growing up in wartime Belfast. Fearghus Roulston is the Chancellor's Fellow in the History of Activism at the University of Strathclyde. He is co-reviews editor of the Oral History Journal and a member of the journal's editorial board. His work focuses on how int
19/12/202238 minutes 32 seconds
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Efram Sera-Shriar, "Psychic Investigators: Anthropology, Modern Spiritualism, and Credible Witnessing in the Late Victorian Age" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022)

Psychic Investigators: Anthropology, Modern Spiritualism, and Credible Witnessing in the Late Victorian Age (U Pittsburgh Press, 2022) examines British anthropology's engagement with the modern spiritualist movement during the late Victorian era. Efram Sera-Shriar argues that debates over the existence of ghosts and psychical powers were at the center of anthropological discussions on human beliefs. He focuses on the importance of establishing credible witnesses of spirit and psychic phenomena in the writings of anthropologists such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Edward Burnett Tylor, Andrew Lang, and Edward Clodd. The book draws on major themes, such as the historical relationship between science and religion, the history of scientific observation, and the emergence of the subfield of anthropology of religion in the second half of the nineteenth century. For secularists such as Tylor and Clodd, spiritualism posed a major obstacle in establishing the legitimacy of the theory of animism: a c
18/12/202258 minutes 33 seconds
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Hester Barron, "The Social World of the School: Education and Community in Interwar London" (Manchester UP, 2022)

The Social World of the School: Education and Community in Interwar London (Manchester UP, 2022) shows why the study of schooling matters to the history of twentieth-century Britain. Dr. Hester Barron integrates the history of education within the wider concerns of modern social history. Drawing on a rich array of archival and autobiographical sources, she captures in vivid detail the individual moments that made up the minutiae of classroom life. The book focuses on elementary education in interwar London, arguing that schools were grounded in their local communities as lynchpins of social life and drivers of change. Exploring crucial questions around identity and belonging, poverty and aspiration, class and culture, behaviour and citizenship, Dr. Barron provides vital context for twenty-first century debates about education and society, showing how the same concerns were framed a century ago. This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conf
18/12/20221 hour 3 minutes 38 seconds
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Stephanie Decker, "Postcolonial Transition and Global Business History: British Multinational Companies in Ghana and Nigeria" (Routledge, 2022)

In this episode, I interview Prof. Stephanie Decker about her new book Postcolonial Transition and Global Business History British Multinational Companies in Ghana and Nigeria (Routledge, 2022). Prof. Mick Rowlinson also joined the conversation about the book. British multinationals faced unprecedented challenges to their organizational legitimacy in the middle of the twentieth century as the European colonial empires were dismantled and institutional transformations changed colonial relationships in Africa and other parts of the world. This book investigates the political networking and internal organizational changes in five British multinationals (United Africa Company, John Holt & Co., Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, Bank of West Africa and Barclays Bank DCO). These firms were forced to adapt their strategies and operations to changing institutional environments in two English-speaking West African countries, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) and Nigeria, from the late 1940s to the l
16/12/202259 minutes 51 seconds
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Harvey J. Kaye, "The British Marxist Historians" (Zero Book, 2022)

The British Marxist Historians, originally published in 1995, remains the first and most complete study of the founders of one of the most influential contemporary academic traditions in history and social theory. In this classic text, Kaye looks at Maurice Dobb and the debate on the transition to capitalism; Rodney Hilton on feudalism and the English peasantry; Christopher Hill on the English Revolution; Eric Hobsbawm on workers, peasants and world history; and E.P. Thompson on the making of the English working class. Kaye compares their perspective on history with other approaches, such as that of the French Annales school, and concludes with a discussion of the British Marxist historians' contribution to the formation of a democratic historical consciousness. The British Marxist Historians is an indispensable book for anyone interested in the intellectual history of the late twentieth century. Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at
16/12/20221 hour 13 minutes 53 seconds
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Joanna Newman, "Nearly the New World: The British West Indies and the Flight from Nazism, 1933–1945" (Berghahn Books, 2019)

In the years leading up to the Second World War, increasingly desperate European Jews looked to far-flung destinations such as Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica in search of refuge from the horrors of Hitler’s Europe. Joanna Newman's book Nearly the New World: The British West Indies and the Flight from Nazism, 1933–1945 (Berghahn Books, 2019) tells the extraordinary story of Jewish refugees who overcame persecution and sought safety in the West Indies from the 1930s through the end of the war. At the same time, it gives an unsparing account of the xenophobia and bureaucratic infighting that nearly prevented their rescue—and that helped to seal the fate of countless other European Jews for whom escape was never an option. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
12/12/20221 hour 6 minutes 17 seconds
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On Virginia Woolf’s "Mrs Dalloway"

In the early 20th century, Europe and North America were undergoing a radical transformation. Scientific, technological, and political changes disrupted many traditional forms of life. The growth of cities opened up new freedoms and opportunities and scientists like Sigmund Freud and Ernst Mach were developing new theories about how we perceive the world and construct reality. These cultural changes gave birth to a form of art that reflected the new sensibilities of this era—modernism. The modernist literary movement was characterized in particular by its interest in revealing the inner psychology of its characters. And few texts were as successful in this goal as Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway. Dora Zhang is Associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Strange Likeness: Description and the Modernist Novel. See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Learn more about your ad choices.
08/12/202235 minutes 54 seconds
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Max Haiven, "Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire" (Pluto Press, 2022)

Palm oil is a commodity like no other. Found in half of supermarket products, from food to cosmetics to plastics, it has shaped the world in which we live. In Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire (Pluto Press, 2022), Max Haiven tells a sweeping story that touches on everything from empire to art, from war to food, and from climate change to racial capitalism. By tracing the global history of this ubiquitous elixir we see how capitalism creates surplus populations: people made dependent on capitalist wages but denied the opportunity to earn them - a proportion of humanity that is growing in our age of racialized and neo-colonial dispossession. Inspired by revolutionary writers like Eduardo Galeano, Saidiya Hartman, C.L.R. James and Rebecca Solnit, this kaleidoscopic and experimental book seeks to weave a story of the past in the present and the present in the past. Max Haiven is Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University in Northwest Ontario and director
08/12/202254 minutes 13 seconds
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Gabriel Polley, "Palestine in the Victorian Age: Colonial Encounters in the Holy Land" (I. B. Tauris, 2022)

In this episode I have interviewed Gabriel Polley, winner of the Ibrahim Dakkak Award for the best essay published in 2021 by the Jerusalem Quarterly. Narratives of the modern history of Palestine/Israel often begin with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Britain's arrival in 1917. However, this work argues that the contest over Palestine has its roots deep in the 19th century, with Victorians who first cast the Holy Land as an area to be possessed by empire, then began to devise schemes for its settler colonization. The product of historical research among almost forgotten guidebooks, archives and newspaper clippings, this book presents a previously unwritten chapter of Britain's colonial desire, and reveals how indigenous Palestinians began to react against, or accommodate themselves to, the West's fascination with their ancestral land. From the travellers who tried to overturn Jerusalem's holiest sites, to an uprising sparked by a church bell and a missionary's tragic actions, t
05/12/20221 hour 7 minutes 22 seconds
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Jeremy Black, "A Brief History of the British Monarchy: From the Iron Age to King Charles III" (Robinson, 2022)

The British monarchy is at a turning point. Concise and engaging, Jeremy Black's A Brief History of the British Monarchy: From the Iron Age to King Charles III (Robinson, 2022) charts the very beginnings of British reign through to the longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II - and looks forward to the reign of King Charles III. Much more than a linear history, this is the intertwined story of royalty and state, of divisions, invasions, rivalries, death and glory; the story of nation fates deeply tied with the personal endeavours of monarchs through the ages. Black expertly weaves together thematic chapters from the origins of monarchy, medieval times and sixteenth-century developments, to the crises of the seventeenth-century, settlement and imperialism, and the challenges of the modern age. Exploring the House of Wessex, the Norman Conquest, Henry VIII and the Tudors, Victorianism and key events such as abdication of Edward VIII, this book is a necessary and comprehensive guide to
04/12/202234 minutes 8 seconds
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On Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre"

The Victorian era is known for its class rigidity and moral strictness. In her 1847 novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë gave us a robust, layered character who pushes against cultural norms and fully embraces her complexity. She’s crabby, difficult, and gets depressed. But she’s also smart and passionate. And she claims the right to love and be loved because she is all these things—fully human. Sharon Marcus is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London and Between Women: Marriage, Desire, and Friendship in Victorian England. See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
02/12/202235 minutes 59 seconds
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Huw J. Davies, "The Wandering Army: The Campaigns That Transformed the British Way of War" (Yale UP, 2022)

In The Wandering Army: The Campaigns that Transformed the British Way of War (Yale University Press, 2022), Dr. Huw J. Davies presents a compelling history of the British Army in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—showing how the military gathered knowledge from campaigns across the globe. At the outbreak of the War of Austrian Succession in 1742, the British Army’s military tactics were tired and outdated, stultified after three decades of peace. The army’s leadership was conservative, resistant to change, and unable to match new military techniques developing on the continent. Losses were cataclysmic and the force was in dire need of modernization—both in terms of strategy and in leadership and technology. In this wide-ranging and highly original account, Dr. Davies traces the British Army’s accumulation of military knowledge across the following century. An essentially global force, British armies and soldiers continually gleaned and synthesized strategy from warzones the world
01/12/20221 hour 13 minutes 23 seconds
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Joseph Sassoon, "The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire" (Pantheon Books, 2022)

The Sassoons were one of the great merchant families of the nineteenth century, alongside such names as the Jardines, the Mathesons, and the Swires. They dominated the India-China opium trade through the David Sassoon and E.D. Sassoon companies. They became Indian tycoons, English aristocracy, Hong Kong board directors, and Shanghai real estate moguls. Yet unlike the Kadoories and Swires, the Sassoon companies no longer exist today. Professor Joseph Sassoon in his latest book The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants and the Making of an Empire (Pantheon, 2022) helps to answer that question, from the Sassoons’ start fleeing Baghdad for Bombay, through to Victor Sassoon’s investments in the Shanghai before the Second World War. In this interview, Joseph and I talk about the Sassoon family: from David, the patriarch of the family, through to Victor Sassoon, Shanghai real estate mogul. And we also think about the Sassoons as a business: how did this great, global family trading house decli
01/12/202244 minutes 28 seconds
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Jonathan R. Hunt, "The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam" (Stanford UP, 2022)

The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam (Stanford UP, 2022) reveals how a coalition of powerful and developing states embraced global governance in hopes of a bright and peaceful tomorrow. While fears of nuclear war were ever-present, it was the perceived threat to their preeminence that drove Washington, Moscow, and London to throw their weight behind the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) banishing nuclear testing underground, the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco banning atomic armaments from Latin America, and the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) forbidding more countries from joining the most exclusive club on Earth. International society, the Cold War, and the imperial U.S. presidency were reformed from 1945 to 1970, when a global nuclear order was inaugurated, averting conflict in the industrial North and yielding what George Orwell styled a "peace that is no peace" everywhere else. Today the nuclear order legitimizes foreign in
01/12/20221 hour 18 minutes 58 seconds
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Trevor Jackson, "Impunity and Capitalism: The Afterlives of European Financial Crises, 1690-1830" (Cambridge UP, 2022)

Whose fault are financial crises, and who is responsible for stopping them, or repairing the damage? Impunity and Capitalism: The Afterlives of European Financial Crises, 1690-1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) develops a new approach to the history of capitalism and inequality by using the concept of impunity to show how financial crises stopped being crimes and became natural disasters. Dr. Trevor Jackson examines the legal regulation of capital markets in a period of unprecedented expansion in the complexity of finance ranging from the bankruptcy of Europe's richest man in 1709, to the world's first stock market crash in 1720, to the first Latin American debt crisis in 1825. He shows how, after each crisis, popular anger and improvised policy responses resulted in efforts to create a more just financial capitalism but succeeded only in changing who could act with impunity, and how. Henceforth financial crises came to seem normal and legitimate, caused by impersonal internationa
30/11/20221 hour 7 minutes 28 seconds
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Paul Watt, "Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London" (Policy Press, 2021)

It is widely accepted that London is in the midst of a serious housing crisis, manifested most obviously in city's soaring rents. While the causes of this crisis are manifold, many people have come to argue that the diminished role of public housing, which includes council estates, is a major contributing factor. Yet the bitter irony is that, at a time of such massive housing shortages, London's council estates are disappearing from the city's skyline in the name of renewal and regeneration. In Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London (Policy Press, 2021), Watt provides a systematic policy and sociological account of the transformation of council housing in London over the last three decades, drawing on extensive fieldwork, interviews, and statistical and documentary analysis undertaken in several London boroughs. The book explores what this dramatic shift in housing implies for ever-widening inequality in London's distribution of wealth.
28/11/20221 hour 3 minutes 39 seconds
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On George Orwell's "1984"

In 1948, English author George Orwell wrote what would become one of the defining novels of the 20th century, 1984. He was writing in the years following WWII and the beginning of The Cold War. It was a tense time, full of uncertainty and the spectre of Soviet communism loomed. In 1984, Orwell introduced all kinds of terms to describe the dystopian society of his novel, such as “thought police”, “memory hole”, “big brother”, and “unperson.” And in his view, Orwell wasn’t attempting to describe a fantastical world with no correspondence to our own, or even just satirizing the excesses of the Soviet regime. He was sounding a warning to his own society. Priya Satia is the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History Professor of History at Stanford University. She is the author of Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution and Time’s Monster: How History Makes History See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Lear
28/11/202241 minutes 13 seconds
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Stephen Bourne, "Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45" (The History Press, 2020)

In Under Fire: Black Britain in Wartime 1939-45 (The History Press, 2020), Stephen Bourne tells the whole story of Britain's black community during World War II. On the home front, civilians came under fire from the Blitz in cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, and Manchester. Meanwhile, black servicemen and women, many of them volunteers from places as far away as Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, and Nigeria, risked their lives fighting for the Mother Country in the air, at sea, and on land. Drawing on first-hand testimonies, Bourne sheds light on a wealth of experiences, from evacuees to entertainers, government officials, prisoners of war, and community leaders. Despite facing the discriminatory "color bar," many black civilians were determined to contribute to the war effort where they could, volunteering as civilian defense workers--air-raid wardens, fire-fighters, stretcher-bearers, and first-aiders. Among those remembered are men and women whose stories have only recent
25/11/202239 minutes 26 seconds
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On George Eliot's "Middlemarch"

By the time we reach middle age, our lives have taken certain paths. Sometimes these paths are close to what we imagined in our youth. But more often, they’re dramatically different. We come to realize that there are larger, invisible forces that tend to have just as much a say, or more, in how our lives go as we do. In her 1871 novel Middlemarch, the English writer George Eliot explored this experience of ‘middleness’—a time halfway between what has already happened, and what has yet to happen. A time when we feel more sharply our own limitations. Nicholas Dames is Theodore Kahan Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870, and The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction. See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becom
25/11/202238 minutes 1 second
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Stephen Galloway, "Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century" (Grand Central, 2022)

A sweeping and heartbreaking Hollywood biography about the passionate, turbulent marriage of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. In 1934, a friend brought fledgling actress Vivien Leigh to see Theatre Royal, where she would first lay eyes on Laurence Olivier in his brilliant performance as Anthony Cavendish. That night, she confided to a friend, he was the man she was going to marry. There was just one problem: She was already married—and so was he. Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century (Grand Central, 2022) is the biography of a marriage, a love affair that still captivates millions, even decades after both actors' deaths. Vivien and Larry were two of the first truly global celebrities - their fame fueled by the explosive growth of tabloids and television, which helped and hurt them in equal measure. They seemed to have it all, and yet, in their own minds, they were doomed, blighted by her long-undiagnosed mental illness, which transformed their r
25/11/202256 minutes 47 seconds
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Aidan Enright, "Charles Owen O'Conor, the O'Conor Don: Landlordism, Liberal Catholicism and Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Ireland" (Four Courts, 2022)

Aidan Enright holds a PhD in History from Queen’s University Belfast and is an Associate Researcher and Part-Time Lecturer in History at Leeds Beckett University, where he teaches Modern British History and he is also a Teacher of Social Sciences at University of Bradford International College. In this interview, he discusses his first book, Charles Owen O'Conor, the O'Conor Don: Landlordism, Liberal Catholicism and Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Four Courts, 2022) This book uncovers the world of Charles Owen O’Conor, the O‘Conor Don (1838–1906), one of the most prominent Catholic landlords and Liberal MPs of his generation. The scion of the last high king of Ireland and one of a long line of politically active O’Conors, he was a wealthy, fair-minded landlord who served as MP for his native County Roscommon between 1860 and 1880. In parliament, he supported reforms in education, juvenile care, factory law, Sunday closing, the Irish language and landownership. However, as a loy
24/11/202230 minutes 25 seconds
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Frans Camphuijsen, "Scripting Justice in Late Medieval Europe: Legal Practice and Communication in the Law Courts of Utrecht, York and Paris" (Amsterdam UP, 2022)

Frans Camphuijsen explored records from the law courts of York, Paris, and Utrecht and used them as a base for Scripting Justice in Late Medieval Europe: Legal Practice and Communication in the Law Courts of Utrecht, York, and Paris (Amsterdam University Press, 2022). Late medieval societies witnessed the emergence of a particular form of socio-legal practice and logic, focused on the law court and its legal process. In a context of legal pluralism, courts tried to carve out their own position by influencing people's conception of what justice was and how one was supposed to achieve it. These "scripts of justice" took shape through a range of media, including texts, speech, embodied activities and the spaces used to perform all these. Looking beyond traditional historiographical narratives of state building or the professionalization of law, this book argues that the development of law courts was grounded in changing forms of multimedial interaction between those who sought justice and
23/11/202251 minutes 40 seconds
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Robert J. Savage, "Northern Ireland, the BBC, and Censorship in Thatcher's Britain, 1979-1990" (Oxford UP, 2022)

Robert J. Savage is a professor in the Boston College History Department and served as one of the directors of the University’s Irish Studies program for close to twenty years. He has been awarded Visiting Fellowships at Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Edinburgh, Queen’s University, Belfast and the University of Galway. Savage’s publications explore contemporary Irish and British history and include The BBC’s Irish Troubles: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland (2015) short listed for the Ewart-Biggs Literary Award; A Loss of Innocence? Television and Irish Society 1960-1972, (2010) winner of the James S. Donnelly Sr. Book Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies and Sean Lemass, a biography (2014). In this interview, he discusses his new book Northern Ireland, the BBC and Censorship in Thatcher’s Britain (Oxford University Press, 2022), which explores issues of censorship, paramilitary violence and British and international politics in the 1980s. Northern I
21/11/202234 minutes 27 seconds
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What is the Future of Populism?

The world's wealthier countries have in recent years faced challenges from right-wing populist parties and movements that may rejuvenate origins from relatively far in the past, such as in the case of Italy, or they may constitute new formations disturbingly reminiscent of earlier movements of their kinds. So, for example, the Alternative for Germany, in Germany. So where does populism go from here? This week on International Horizons, Umut Korkut from Glasgow Caledonian University discusses the goals and findings of the D.Rad De-Radicalization project in Europe and why and how people become radicalized from being alienated from the rest of society. Korkut also delves into other causes of radicalization, such as educational policies and political literacy gap and the manipulation by the elites. He goes on to discuss the nuances of populism in Europe and its variations in the imaginary of people. Finally, he argues that, because of trauma of recent events, voters are paralyzed and canno
21/11/202251 minutes 45 seconds
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Deiter Reinisch, "Learning behind Bars: How IRA Prisoners Shaped the Peace Process in Ireland" (U Toronto Press, 2022)

Dieter Reinisch is a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council Fellow in the School of Political Science and Sociology, University of Galway, and an Adjunct Professor in International Relations at Webster University, Campus Vienna. He holds a PhD in History from the European University Institute in Florence). Since 2016, he serves on the editorial board of the academic, open-access journal Studi irlandesi: A Journal of Irish Studies, published by Florence University Press. In addition to his new book on republican prisoners in Ireland, he is the co-editor (with Luisa Passerini) of Performing Memory: Corporeality, Visuality, and Mobility after 1968 published with Berghahn Books, and Irish Republican Counterpublic: Armed Struggle & the Construction of a Radical Nationalist Community in Northern Ireland, co-edited with Anne Kane and published with Routledge. In this interview, he discusses his new book, Learning Behind Bars: How IRA Prisoners Shaped the Peace Process in Ireland (Univer
18/11/202246 minutes 49 seconds
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Caroline Roope, "The History of the London Underground Map" (Pen and Sword Transport, 2022)

Few transportation maps can boast the pedigree that London’s iconic ‘Tube’ map can. Sported on t-shirts, keyrings, duvet covers, and most recently, downloaded an astonishing twenty million times in app form, the map remains a long-standing icon of British design and ingenuity. Hailed by the art and design community as a cultural artefact, it has also inspired other culturally important pieces of artwork, and in 2006 was voted second in BBC 2’s Great British Design Test. But it almost didn’t make it out of the notepad it was designed in. The story of how the Underground map evolved is almost as troubled and fraught with complexities as the transport network it represents. Mapping the Underground was not for the faint-hearted – it rapidly became a source of frustration, and in some cases obsession – often driving its custodians to the point of distraction. The solution, when eventually found, would not only revolutionise the movement of people around the city but change the way we visual
18/11/20221 hour 1 minute 15 seconds
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Gregor Gall, "The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer: Radicalism, Resistance and Rebellion" (Manchester UP, 2022)

Joe Strummer was one of the twentieth century's iconic rock'n'roll rebels. As frontperson, spokesperson and chief lyricist for The Clash, he played a major role in politicising a generation through some of the most powerful protest songs of the era, songs like 'White Riot', 'English Civil War' and 'London Calling'. At the heart of this protest was the struggle for social justice and equality. The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer: Radicalism, Resistance and Rebellion (Manchester UP, 2022) examines Strummer's beliefs on a range of issues - including socialism, alienation, exploitation, multiculturalism and humanism - analysing their credibility, influence and impact, and asking where they came from and how they developed over time. Drawing on Strummer's lyrics, various interviews and bootleg recordings, as well as interviews with those he inspired, The punk rock politics of Joe Strummer takes the reader on a journey through the political influences and motivations that defined one of t
18/11/20221 hour 4 minutes 17 seconds
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Louise Ashley, "Highly Discriminating: Why the City Isn't Fair and Diversity Doesn't Work" (Bristol UP, 2022)

Can we make the finance industry fair? In Highly Discriminating: Why the City Isn’t Fair and Diversity Doesn’t Work (Bristol UP, 2022), Louise Ashley, Associate Professor and IHSS Fellow at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Business and Management, explores the history and practice of social mobility into one of Britain’s key professions. The book offers a history of the City and its evolution from a closed world of gentlemen to a seemingly open meritocracy. At the same time, the book destroys the myth of merit, demonstrating how where people went to school, the place they did a degree, who they know, and how they present themselves still determine who is a success. Offering a critique of the City’s superficial attempts to increase its class, race, and gender diversity, the book is essential reading across the social sciences, as well as for anyone wishing to understand how inequalities continue in contemporary society. Dave O'Brien is Professor of Cultural and Creative Indus
17/11/202240 minutes 43 seconds
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David McDermott Hughes, "Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity" (Duke UP, 2017)

In Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity (Duke University Press, 2017), David McDermott Hughes investigates why climate change has yet to be seen as a moral issue. He examines the forces that render the use of fossil fuels ordinary and therefore exempt from ethical evaluation. Hughes centers his analysis on Trinidad and Tobago, which is the world's oldest petro-state, having drilled the first continuously producing oil well in 1866. Marrying historical research with interviews with Trinidadian petroleum scientists, policymakers, technicians, and managers, he draws parallels between Trinidad's eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave labor energy economy and its contemporary oil industry. Hughes shows how both forms of energy rely upon a complicity that absolves producers and consumers from acknowledging the immoral nature of each. He passionately argues that like slavery, producing oil is a moral choice and that oil is at its most dangerous when it is accepted
16/11/202255 minutes 10 seconds
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Michael A. Hunzeker, "Dying to Learn: Wartime Lessons from the Western Front" (Cornell UP, 2021)

In Dying to Learn: Wartime Lessons from the Western Front (Cornell UP, 2021), Michael Hunzeker develops a novel theory to explain how wartime militaries learn. He focuses on the Western Front, which witnessed three great-power armies struggle to cope with deadlock throughout the First World War, as the British, French, and German armies all pursued the same solutions-assault tactics, combined arms, and elastic defense in depth. By the end of the war, only the German army managed to develop and implement a set of revolutionary offensive, defensive, and combined arms doctrines that in hindsight represented the best way to fight. Hunzeker identifies three organizational variables that determine how fighting militaries generate new ideas, distinguish good ones from bad ones, and implement the best of them across the entire organization. These factors are: the degree to which leadership delegates authority on the battlefield; how effectively the organization retains control over soldier and
16/11/202234 minutes 8 seconds
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James Griffiths, "Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language" (Zed Books, 2021)

As globalisation continues languages are disappearing faster than ever, leaving our planet's linguistic diversity leaping towards extinction. The science of how languages are acquired is becoming more advanced and the internet is bringing us new ways of teaching the next generation, however it is increasingly challenging for minority languages to survive in the face of a handful of hegemonic 'super-tongues'. In Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language (Zed Books, 2021), James Griffiths reports from the frontlines of the battle to preserve minority languages, from his native Wales, Hawaii and indigenous American nations, to southern China and Hong Kong. He explores the revival of the Welsh language as a blueprint for how to ensure new generations are not robbed of their linguistic heritage, outlines how loss of indigenous languages is the direct result of colonialism and globalisation and examines how technology is both hindering and aiding the fight to prevent linguisti
15/11/202257 minutes 11 seconds
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On H. G. Well's "The Time Machine"

When H.G. Wells was growing up in England in the 1860s, science wasn’t part of education or everyday life the way it is now. Even though the 19th century was an era of dramatic technological invention, the professionalization of science was still developing. Wells viewed science as an incredibly powerful force. He knew it could either help or hurt humanity--even with that risk, he believed society should fully embrace science. When Wells wrote his first novel, The Time Machine, in 1895, he kicked off a 50-year-long writing career. He was a pioneer in the science fiction genre, and his stories have inspired generations of audiences, artists, filmmakers, and other writers around the world. Sarah Cole is the Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Dean of Humanities at Columbia University. She is the author of Inventing Tomorrow: H.G. Wells and the Twentieth Century and At the Violet Hour: Modernism and Violence in England and Ireland, among other works. See more informat
15/11/202237 minutes 18 seconds
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In this episode of High Theory, Laura Stokes talks about melancholy. One of the four humors in ancient humoral medicine, melancholy, or black bile, is a fluid substance and spiritual principle that was thought to move within the human body. A proper quantity of black bile allows one to be calm and contemplative, thoughtful and withdrawn. A superabundance produces sadness, indigestion, and a host of other evils. Research is a melancholy practice; scholars are prone to melancholic dispositions. Throughout the episode Laura refers to Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, an early modern text that describes the sources, symptoms, and treatments for a surplus of melancholy, in a rather meandering way, with an entire separate disquisition on love melancholy. It was published in multiple versions over Burton’s lifetime – people usually cite the 1638 edition. Laura Stokes is an associate professor of history at Stanford University where they study Early Modern Europe. Their first book Demons
15/11/202215 minutes 41 seconds
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Kedar Arun Kulkarni, "World Literature and the Question of Genre in Colonial India: Poetry, Drama, and Print Culture 1790-1890" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

In 1818, the East India Company defeated the Maratha confederacy, acquiring vast domains in central and western India. Through coercion if not outright violence, the Company transformed many aspects of India's social, economic, and cultural landscape. This book charts one such shifting landscape-Marathi language literary culture-in order to expand the field of world and comparative literature. Kedar A. Kulkarni describes the way Marathi literary culture, entrenched in performative modes of production and reception, especially balladry and epic storytelling, saw the germination of a robust, script-centric dramatic culture, owing to colonial networks of literary exchange and the newfound wide availability of print technology. However, the process was far from a simple mutation of genre. He demonstrates the upheaval that literary culture underwent as a new class of literati emerged: anthologists, critics, theatre makers, publishers, translators, among many others. And, these people also p
14/11/202251 minutes 38 seconds
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Nile Green, "The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen's London" (Princeton UP, 2015)

In July 1815, six Iranian students arrived in London under the escort of their chaperone, Captain Joseph D'Arcy. Their mission was to master the modern sciences behind the rapid rise of Europe. Over the next four years, they lived both the low life and high life of Regency London, from being down and out after their abandonment by D’Arcy to charming their way into society and landing on the gossip pages. The Love of Strangers: What Six Muslim Students Learned in Jane Austen's London (Princeton UP, 2015) tells the story of their search for love and learning in Jane Austen’s England. Drawing on the Persian diary of the student Mirza Salih and the letters of his companions, Nile Green vividly describes how these adaptable Muslim migrants learned to enjoy the opera and take the waters at Bath. But there was more than frivolity to their student years in London. Burdened with acquiring the technology to defend Iran against Russia, they talked their way into the observatories, hospitals, and
14/11/20221 hour 13 minutes 39 seconds
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Charles Read, "The Great Famine in Ireland and Britain's Financial Crisis" (Boydell & Brewer, 2022)

The Great Famine in Ireland and Britain’s Financial Crisis (Boydell & Brewer, 2022) is rich in archival detail and offers a ground-breaking analysis. In this book, Dr. Charles Read presents a radically new interpretation of British politics and policy failings during the Great Famine. The Irish famine of the 1840s is the biggest humanitarian crisis in the United Kingdom's history. Within six years of the arrival of the potato blight in Ireland in 1845, more than a quarter of its residents had unexpectedly died or emigrated. Its population has not yet fully recovered since. Historians have struggled to explain why the British government decided to shut down its centrally organised relief efforts in 1847, long before the famine ended. Some have blamed the laissez-faire attitudes of the time for an inadequate response by the British government; others have alleged purposeful neglect and genocide. In contrast, The Great Famine in Ireland and Britain's Financial Crisis uncovers a hidden nar
09/11/20221 hour 6 minutes 27 seconds
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Aisha Khan, "The Deepest Dye: Obeah, Hosay, and Race in the Atlantic World" (Harvard UP, 2021)

In The Deepest Dye: Obeah, Hosay, and Race in the Atlantic World (Harvard University Press, 2021), Aisha Khan explores how colonial categories of race and religion together created identities and hierarchies that today are vehicles for multicultural nationalism and social critique in the Caribbean and its diasporas. When the British Empire abolished slavery, Caribbean sugar plantation owners faced a labor shortage. To solve the problem, they imported indentured “coolie” laborers, Hindus and a minority Muslim population from the Indian subcontinent. Indentureship continued from 1838 until its official end in 1917. The Deepest Dye begins on post-emancipation plantations in the West Indies—where Europeans, Indians, and Africans intermingled for work and worship—and ranges to present-day England, North America, and Trinidad, where colonial-era legacies endure in identities and hierarchies that still shape the post-independence Caribbean and its contemporary diasporas. Aisha Khan focuses on
07/11/20221 hour 15 minutes
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David Caute, "Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century" (Verso, 2022)

In the popular imagination MI5, or the Security Service, is know chiefly as the branch of the British state responsible for chasing down those who pose a threat to the country's national security--from Nazi fifth columnists during the Second World War, to Soviet spies during the Cold War and today's domestic extremists.  Yet in Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2022), David Caute argues in this radical and revelatory history of the Security Service in the twentieth century, suspicion often fell on those who posed no threat to national security. Instead, this 'other history' of MI5, ignored in official accounts, was often as not fuelled by the political prejudices of MI5's personnel, and involved a huge programme of surveillance against anyone who dared question the status quo. Caute, a prominent historian and expert on the history of the Cold War, tells the story of the massive state operation to track the activities of a range of journalists, aca
04/11/202231 minutes 33 seconds
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On John Milton's "Paradise Lost"

As a young student at Christ’s College Cambridge, John Milton announced to the world that he was going to write the greatest poem that the world has ever seen. He didn’t want to sit among the epic geniuses Homer and Virgil, he wanted to surpass them. Decades later, Milton wrote Paradise Lost, reworking and embellishing the stories of Adam and Eve’s fall from paradise and Satan’s fall from heaven to create what is unquestionably the greatest epic poem written in English. Erik Gray is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. His books include The Art of Love Poetry, Milton and the Victorians, and The Poetry of Indifference: from the Romantics to the Rubáiyát. See more information on our website, Follow us on Twitter @WritLargePod. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Support our show by becoming a premium member!
04/11/202231 minutes 33 seconds
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David Caute, "Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century" (Verso, 2022)

In the popular imagination MI5, or the Security Service, is know chiefly as the branch of the British state responsible for chasing down those who pose a threat to the country's national security--from Nazi fifth columnists during the Second World War, to Soviet spies during the Cold War and today's domestic extremists.  Yet in Red List: MI5 and British Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century (Verso, 2022), David Caute argues in this radical and revelatory history of the Security Service in the twentieth century, suspicion often fell on those who posed no threat to national security. Instead, this 'other history' of MI5, ignored in official accounts, was often as not fuelled by the political prejudices of MI5's personnel, and involved a huge programme of surveillance against anyone who dared question the status quo. Caute, a prominent historian and expert on the history of the Cold War, tells the story of the massive state operation to track the activities of a range of journalists, aca