Saturday, June 26, 2004

Brian Manning

Brian Manning, civil wars historian, has died. He was 76, a mere stripling compared to Christopher Hill. Another one I'll never get to meet or hear speaking (after E P Thompson, Gwyn Alf Williams, Jack Plumb, Peter Laslett, Roy Porter, Hill...).

Friday, June 25, 2004

Stonehenge i Gymru!

I think the archdruid of Wales may have his tongue in his cheek here...

Archdruid wants Stonehenge back

What I wondered is, how can they tell from the teeth that these people were 'Welsh'? Traces of bara brith?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Early Modern MA courses in UK universities

It's that time of year again: newly-fledged graduates are considering whether to take the plunge into taking post-grad courses - whether because they've been enthused by inspirational teachers, are putting off finding a 'real' job, or even think the 'real' job for them might just lie in academia - and there's an ever growing range of early modern options. Here's a list (in no particular order) for you, or anyone you know who's that way inclined. I'm sure it's not complete, of course.

MA in Early Modern History, Sussex University. Core courses include 'Society and Culture' and 'Literature, Politics and Religion'; options include 'Heretics, witches and jews'; 'France under Louis XIV'; 'The Atlantic World'. There is also a Early Modern Literature and Culture MA based in the English department.

MA in Early Modern History, Kings College London. The core course is 'Approaches to early modern history'; options include 'Composite monarchies and consensual states'; 'Ritual in early modern society'; 'The body and society'.

MA in Comparative History of Early Modern European Societies, Birkbeck University of London. Core: 'Themes in Early Modern History'; options including 'Early Modern London'; 'Death, Disease and the Early Modern City'; 'Power and Communication from the Reformation to the Enlightenment'.

MA in Medieval and Early Modern History, University of Bristol. Core: 'Themes and Problems in Medieval and Early Modern History'. Most of its early modern content focuses on the period to about 1600, eg: 'The English Reformation'; 'The first globalisation, 1400-1600'; 'The decline and fall of the GAelic World: Ireland and Scotland, 1300-1600'.

MA in British and European Cultural and Political History c.1400-1800, Manchester University. The core is 'Issues and debates in early modern history'; options include 'First Century of Spanish America'; 'Church, society and religion in seventeenth-century France'; 'People, work and wealth in English towns'.

MA in Early Modern History, University of East Anglia. Core courses include 'Authority and ideology in early modern England', 'Society and culture in early modern England'; options, 'Political cultures of eighteenth-century Britain', 'Colonial America', 'Landscape history'.

Interdisciplinary MA, Texts in History, 1500-1750, Reading University. Core courses focus on 'history and literature'; options include 'Riot, rebellion and popular protest'; 'Mid-tudor political narratives'; 'The early modern midwife'.

MA in Early Modern History, University of York. Focus on 'social and cultural' history; options include 'The radical reformation in Germany'; 'From the body beautiful to the body politic'; 'The politics of the parish'.

MA in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe, Royal Holloway, University of London. There is a core course on methodology, theory and skills; again ranges over medieval and early modern, options include 'The material culture of domestic life'; 'The body in culture/society'; 'Eighteenth-century women'.

MA in Seventeenth-century Studies, University of Durham seventeenth-century studies centre.

The Centre for 18th-century Studies at York runs several interdisciplinary MA courses, mainly on the period 1750-1850.

Think and look around carefully. Even if you're certain that you want to do early modern, you don't necessarily have to do a dedicated early modern history course. I didn't (my MA was in Women's and Gender History at York, which gave plenty of opportunities to do early modern subjects). It can be healthy to do something else from time to time! Apart from courses designated as 'early modern', there are many more 'general' Masters courses that include early modern 'pathways' or substantial early modern components. For example:
University of Durham
University of Sheffield
University of Wales Aberystwyth
Or, as with the different options at Sussex, there are plenty of early modern Literature courses in English departments - worth thinking about if you have strong interests in that direction. The Guardian online provides a very good postgraduate course search facility.

It's worth making sure that the course includes strong research training and preferably auxiliary skills training too (languages especially Latin, palaeography, computing skills). A dissertation, which may be up to 20,000 words long, is a key part of all Masters courses. And if you're planning to go on to a PhD, it will be essential preparation. Visit the department and the location if you possibly can. Find out from other students what the prospectus doesn't tell you, not least about IT and library facilities. And research resources for that all-important dissertation.

Bear in mind, if you're thinking about it for this year, that you've missed the competitions of the two governmental funding bodies in this area, the AHRB and ESRC. There may still be university and departmental opportunities, however. And I'm sure these courses will still be around next year.

Schama's favourite history before he had a TV series to plug

I came across this list of Simon Schama's Top 10 popular history books. It's 2-3 years old (just after Rembrandt's Eyes, no mention of History of Britain), and in the light of his more recent pronouncements, interesting both for what it includes and what it doesn't. Gibbon is there, 'for the jokes and the fantastic footnotes' (yep, footnotes) and so is Carlyle, though only at no. 8 - but where's Macaulay? And the historian at the top spot, Richard Cobb, didn't get much of a look in when Schama was telling us who we should emulate in our history writing, did he? Also here is Braudel's The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World and one of my all-time favourites, Carlo Ginzberg's Cheese and the Worms (that book turned me on to early modern history as a first-year undergrad).

This list, in fact, sums up my bemusement at Schama's statements this year, which seemed to me to contradict his own history as a wide-ranging historian ready to experiment with subject and form: he appeared to want us to narrow our options (in both respects). It didn't make too much sense unless you saw it as a fairly cynical exercise in plugging his new TV series (which I didn't find very interesting, despite the talents of the actors recruited to read the extracts; I wonder if it would have worked better on the radio), or a kind of defensive reaction to the criticisms of the History of Britain series for being old-fashioned.

This older list tells a rather different story, one in which diversity, the old and the new, different kinds of history (including the highly scholarly, if not the quantitative brand) and 'story' telling, are celebrated. Perhaps Simon ought to go back and read it himself.

CFP: 'Milestones' conference/cynhadledd ryngwladol 'Cerrig Milltir', 2005

For researchers on Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and other Celtic countries and peoples - come to Aberystywth in summer 2005!

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth is holding an international conference 'for scholars to discuss significant junctures in the development of the archaeology, histories, languages, literatures and national identity of Wales and the other Celtic countries in any period', 28 June-5 July 2005. The conference will host sessions in English and Welsh, with a translation service for Welsh-language plenary sessions.

Send 250-word abstracts of papers to Professor Geraint H. Jenkins, Director, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3HH or by e-mail to by 16 December 2004.

See the CFP in Welsh and English.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Now, about this blog

Now that I'm settling in to the whole blogging thing, this seems a good moment to review what this blog is likely to be used for. As I wrote at the beginning, of course, there will be postings of newly-found resources that have not yet found their way on to Early Modern Resources, and news about the site itself. But there's much more that hadn't occurred to me at that point.

In particular, this is a good place for news-type items that are not suitable for a 'static' website like Early Modern Resources, which can only be updated periodically (due to inevitable constraints on time). So I hope to include regular posts about:

*Conferences, CFPs and other events of interest to early modernists
*Job opportunities, especially for new and recent PhDs
*New publications that have caught my eye
*News stories

And similar things, as and when. Some of these will be - certainly for the time being - very much orientated to early modernists in the UK. What with sites like H-Net and HNN, I think those of you in North America are already much better served in this respect anyway, so if I expand on geographical coverage at all, it will likely be first towards Europe and elsewhere. But it certainly won't only be for Brits.

This is also a handy place to do short pieces of essay-writing, without the need for extensive research, referencing and so on that's usually needed even when I write for Early Modern Resources, let alone 'traditional' publishing. (With the proviso that all such writing should be treated as highly provisional, speculative and correctable, of course.)

Similarly, I may let off steam from time to time. I have no wish for this blog to be highly politicised, and I will not talk at length about Iraq, Bush and Blair any more than I'll be sharing lots of personal detail. But there are plenty of current issues that exercise me, not least when it comes to higher education and the use and abuse of history.

Finally, I like varied blogs and although this is primarily for early modern related topics, you will also see other subjects cropping up, reflecting my particular, um, obsessions. As readers may have noticed, I'm deeply interested in Wales and the Welsh language. I make no apologies for my fascination with this tiny corner of the planet. I'm an English migrant to Wales, with many friends from the so-called Celtic 'periphery', and this all feeds into my wider interest in British identities. Also there are my bad reading habits to consider: crime fiction, historical novels, even some occasional 'literature' (but I am a bit of a philistine. No Joyce here, sorry. Mind you, no JK Rowlings either. Give me Philip Pullman any day). And after that, we'll see.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Renaissance weblog

Claire at 17th century has alerted me to a cool and gorgeous Renaissance weblog. Unfortunately, its author is pretty much away for the summer (working hard in those archives?). But it makes the autumn look worth waiting for.

If anybody knows of any more early modern related (c.1450-1800) blogs on any topic, let me (and Claire!) know.

Learning Welsh in the sixteenth century

I got round to reading some of William Salesbury's A briefe and a playne introduction, teaching how to pronounce the letters in the British tong... today. Rather different to Welsh pronunciation guides (this one has audio files with examples) for all us suffering Welsh learners today. I'm not at all sure that 'playne' is the right word.

The introductory note 'to the reader' was a fascinating read. Here the author, William Salesbury, sets out the reasons he wrote the book. (I've changed 'u' to 'v' where appropriate and silently expanded some contractions, but otherwise the spelling is unchanged, barring any typos I might have missed.) After he had compiled 'a little Dictionarye [1547] for the use and behove of my contry men', he says,

there came came certayne persons unto me, whereof some where Englysh marchers bordering upon Wales: and some not skilled in the Walshe tonge, nevertheles havyng good and honeste occasions, eyther for their promotions and lyvynges, eyther els for trade of marchaudice and other their affayres to be conversante in the sayd contrye of Wales...

And some other were such Walshmen that had been brought up from their yoth and tender age, oute of the precincte of their native contrye, who thoughte it reproch to be utterly ignoraunt in their mother tong, having a mind also to come to some knowledge therin, wherby they myght ye rather (semyng lesse straung) renewe frendshyp and familiaritie with their contrye folke and frendes...

Nowe the other some, were such Englishe men as had not so urgente a cause, nor so earnest an occasion to travell in thys behalfe, but yet were they so fervent... as they (whom I spake of before) whom the Grekes with one propre terme cal Philoglottous, whose gentle herted disposition is alwaies addicte, bente, & geven to be sene in al languages, but speciallye of their owne felow subiectes and contrey menne, thoughe they purchase thereby but small gaynes, lucre, or wynnyng, which thynges be the honied swete baytes of the avaricious beastly misers, and contrarywyse the defiaunce of all liberal and noble stomakes. ...

They asked Salesbury 'whether the pronounciation of the letters in Walshe, dyd dyffer from the Englyshe soundynge of them? And I sayde verye muche.' (I'll say.) And so they asked if he would write a short guide setting out 'a fewe englishe rules' for Welsh pronunciation. To which he agreed, for 'the encrease of mutuall amitie and brotherly love, and continuall frendshyppe, and some commoditie at the leaste wise, to suche as be desierous to be occupied thereaboutes.'

In practical terms, particularly relevant in considering the first group, it's worth commenting that this follows shortly after the 'Acts of Union' (1536-43). That legislation (among other things) uniformly replaced most of the final vestiges of Welsh native law with English law, established the Courts of Great Sessions and boosted the influence and business of the Council in the Marches of Wales, based at Ludlow - which between them would have meant many new opportunities for clerks, administrators and lawyers, who might well want some way of communicating with the largely Welsh-speaking population without always having to rely on interpreters. Businessmen, too, might have seen new opportunities across the Welsh border if the legislation was successful in one of its primary aims, reducing Welsh lawlessness and disorder.

But there's clearly more to it for Salesbury, a true Renaissance man, than that. I'm intrigued about those Welsh exiles, for a start. Were they perhaps the children of Welsh emigrants to London and other English cities (and it's interesting that they remained attached to their 'roots')? The 'London Welsh' certainly already existed. Or could they even have been from Protestant families who went into exile to avoid persecution under Henry VIII, now returning following the succession of the far more enthusiastically Protestant Edward VI?

And then there's Salesbury's final group: Englishmen (any women, one wonders?) who were eager to learn for the love of learning and to increase 'mutuall amitie and brotherly love' with their Welsh neighbours; clearly, a truly noble enterprise. Salesbury was far from being the only highly educated and intelligent, polyglot Welshman in mid-Tudor England (another well known case is John Dee). The Cecils remained interested in their Welsh origins; even the Tudors did on occasion (usually when it suited them politically, it has to be said). Did men like Salesbury help to stimulate English interest in Welsh literary culture and the language? Shakespeare was certainly interested in the ancient 'British' (ie, Welsh) past. It would be fascinating to know whether any of Salesbury's would-be Welsh learners were successful in their quest... and whether anyone ever used his little
book effectively (it does seem to depend on knowing several classical languages before you even begin, which might further suggest that it was his third, already deeply learned, group for whom it was primarily intended. His translation of the New Testament was also aimed at a scholarly audience).

William Salesbury is primarily celebrated in Wales for his part in the Tudor 'Welsh Renaissance' and his contribution to Welsh language and literary culture: for his dictionary, for his pioneering Welsh translation of the New Testament (1567) and Prayer Book (1567). Quite right, too. All of these are indeed major achievements. But I'm beginning to wonder if he should also be celebrated as a pioneer in Welsh language teaching for adults, who did not merely champion his language amongst his own people, but also strove to give it wider currency (not least by harnessing the power of print) and to aid those who wished (even for 'lucre'!) to learn it.

Job Opportunities for Early Modernists is advertising some posts in the UK for early modernists

Lecturer, early modern/medieval, University of Wales, Bangor (one year)

Post-doctoral Research Assistant, Glasgow Emblem Digitisation Project, Glasgow (three years)

Lecturer, British Imperial and/or World history 1600-1850, Leicester (3 years)

Lecturer, Early Modern Archaeology, Sheffield (seems to be permanent?)

Five-year Post-doctoral Research Fellowships, All Souls College, Oxford

All these posts are suitable for recent or nearly-there PhDs. There might be other posts that my rapid survey missed - and new ads appear on all the time.

Language learning in Britain

From the BBC: the man in charge of reviewing the national curriculum for 14-19 year olds wants foreign languages to have a much higher profile in British education. Mike Tomlinson says that 'when it comes to learning languages the British are "barbarians".' Can't really argue with that. And his emphasis seems to be on language learning for practical use rather than passing exams. Of course, the question is where this would be fitted into an already jam-packed curriculum which is largely orientated to passing exams. (Tomlinson also wants a move away from that, it seems.)

I don't know whether things are at all different here in west Wales where a second, 'foreign' language (foreign to most Brits, that is to say) is regularly spoken, bilingualism is common, and there are several Welsh-medium schools. Does that social and educational context create a different attitude to the importance of other languages? I'm not sure that those who are brought up bilingual from birth necessarily find learning new languages later in life any easier than us monoglots (I have some extremely limited anecdotal evidence to suggest not: ie, the occasional conversation in pubs), but increasing numbers of non-Welsh speaking parents are sending their kids to Welsh schools, and I wonder if being made to learn AND, more importantly, daily use a second language at 5+ might give advantages for ease of further language learning later on.

All I know is that my school O'level French is lamentable, ditto German almost non-existent, and learning Welsh is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. (I can read some Latin for research purposes, but it's extremely limited.)

But as long as English remains such a global force, will we monoglot Brits ever become less barbaric? What real incentives are there to improve?

Caxton, Shakespeare and more

From scribblingwoman, some cool Caxton and Shakespeare links, as well as some on children's literature.

Monday, June 21, 2004

A little boy did it and ran away*

The Guardian reports on research suggesting that the numbers executed by the Inquisition were far lower than its bloody image has led us to believe - perhaps only 1% of those tried. Actually, I can believe that. Careful research into the use of capital punishment in early modern England and Wales over the last 30 years has shown that the 'Bloody Code' was less bloody than its image too, what with the extensive use of pardons and other legal loopholes, juries' discretionary verdicts and so on. But I thought this part of the researchers' apologia was a bit rich:

"Other experts told journalists at the Vatican yesterday that many of the thousands of executions conventionally attributed to the church were in fact carried out by non-church tribunals.

"What the church initiated as a strictly regulated process, in which torture was allowed for only 15 minutes and in the presence of a doctor, got out of hand when other bodies were involved."

Do they really think that blaming others, little people, lets the Church off the hook? This was still done under the auspices, the authority, and the legitimising influence, of the Inquisition. (I will not say anything about modern parallels re torture. You can work those out for yourselves.)

*One for Scottish readers and Christopher Brookmyre fans...

Gotta learn to walk before you run...

This is shocking. I've only just got this blog running, I still don't know what I'm doing half the time, and I'm already thinking, well, Blogger's nice'n all, but it's a bit basic, isn't it? I feel like the kid in the sweet shop wandering round other people's much more sophisticated blogs... I want bells and whistles! (in a sweet shop? Watch those mixed metaphors.) Unless there's a lot more stuff Blogger can do that I haven't found out about yet.

This is a bad habit of mine with computers and especially things online. I'm a great one for getting enthused about some new toy and rushing in without reading the instructions properly, which would have told me (a) HOW TO DO IT (and particularly, how not to get stuck half-way through) or (b) YOU CAN'T DO IT, at least without also acquiring several other bits of software (or even hardware...). Result: it takes several times as long as it should have done (and if I'd realised how much hassle was involved I might not have bothered at all).

Thus, for example, it took two goes to get myself a good free HTML editor on, simply because I didn't properly read the information on the first one which would have told me that it wasn't going to be able to do the job I needed. I now have HTML-Kit, by the way, which is great. Mind you, I haven't a clue what half of that's for either. But isn't that often the way online? Either far too basic or so complicated that only the truly dedicated really understand what's going on?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Early Modern Links

 Dynamic Directory: Eighteenth Century
Transatlantica (journal), special issue on the early American Republic (French & English)
Qing China (1644-1911) bibliography
Country House Database
18th century Costume Terminology
Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era
The Edible Monument: the art of food for festivals
Early Modern Thought
"He who destroyes a good book, kills reason it selfe"
Latitude: 15th-century navigation
Presbyterianism, Politics and Lunacy, a recent paper in the Winthrop Papers Electronic Seminar Series
Franklin and his Friends: portraying the man of science in eighteenth-century America (if it's not immediately obvious, you click on the image to enter the site)
Golden Age Spanish Sonnets (with English translations)
Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe
Shakespeare: Subject to Change
German Emblem Books
English Emblem Book Project
Figures of Speech in Early Modern Literature
Dictionary of the Scots Language
Medieval and Renaissance Musical Instruments
Eighteenth-century English Music
Gerrit Dou (seventeenth-century Dutch painter)
Seventeenth-century French Painting
Seventeenth-century Spanish Painting
Sixteenth-century Italian Painting
Pepys' Diary
Casanova Research Page
Samuel Johnson Soundbite Page
A critique of the history of history: the case of early modern England

I've found the Witchcraft Bibliography Project online again, after it disappeared from its old URL some months ago. But only as a pdf file, I'm afraid; not the most convenient way to access such a large document.