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VMM Update – Finding Jokes

The Victorian Meme Machine is a collaboration between the British Library Labs and Dr Bob Nicholson (Edge Hill University). The project will create an extensive database of Victorian jokes and then experiment with ways to recirculate them out over social media. For an introduction to the project, take a look at this blog post or this video presentation.

Stage One: Finding Jokes

Whenever I tell people that I’m working with the British Library to develop an archive of nineteenth-century jokes, they often look a bit confused. “I didn’t think the Victorians had a sense of humour”, somebody told me recently. This is […]

By |September 24th, 2014|Categories: Featured, Victorian Meme Machine|2 Comments

Introducing… the Victorian Meme Machine!

Introducing… the Victorian Meme Machine!

What would it take to make a Victorian joke funny again?
Nothing short of a miracle, you might think. After all, there are few things worse than a worn-out joke. Some provoke a laugh, and the best are retold to friends, but even the most delectable gags are soon discarded. While the great works of Victorian art and literature have been preserved and celebrated by successive generations, even the period’s most popular jokes have now been lost or forgotten.

Fortunately, thousands of these endangered jests have been preserved within the British Library’s digital collections. I applied to this […]

By |June 18th, 2014|Categories: Featured|0 Comments
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Nineteenth-Century Nuts: The Anatomy of a Victorian Lad’s Mag (Part 1)

Nineteenth-Century Nuts
The Anatomy of a Victorian Lad’s Mag

It’s all gone tits up. Nuts, the beleaguered lads’ mag, has finally cracked under the twin pressures of outrage (from those who didn’t read it) and indifference (from those who once did). As a Guardian-reading feminist I should probably be quite glad to see it go, but the historian in me feels a pang of sadness. I work on the history of popular newspapers and magazines, so whenever a long-running publication closes its doors I feel compelled to mourn its passing. Even when the odious News of the World went to joing the great newsagent […]

By |April 15th, 2014|Categories: Featured, History|4 Comments
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Talk: Digital Detectives – Bridging the Gap Between the Archive and the Classroom

Title: ‘Digital Detectives – Bridging the Gap Between the Archive and the Classroom’
Event: Digital Literacies – Building Learning Communities in the Humanities, HEA Arts & Humanities Workshop, Liverpool John Moores University, 2 April 2014.
Hashtag: #DigitalLiteracies // Storify
Notes: Last week I attended a brilliant HEA workshop organised by @DrHorrocks. In my presentation I spoke about my recent attempts to integrate digital research into my undergraduate teaching. I outlined how we can use digital archives to transform undergraduate history students into empowered producers, rather than just passive consumers, of research.  If you’re interested in learning more about the ‘Digital Detectives’ model of undergraduate history teaching […]

By |April 12th, 2014|Categories: Digitisation, Featured, Teaching|3 Comments
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Musical Prize Fight

In September 1859 a “Grand Village Band Contest” was held in a place called Loftus – a small moorland-village on the North-Yorkshire coast, not far from the house where I grew up. Music filled the air and crowds poured in from miles around to witness the spectacle. Among them was John Hollingshead, a London journalist and theatrical impresario who would later go on to produce the first collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan. At this point he was making his way in the business under the tutelage of Charles Dickens by contributing articles to Household Words and All the Year Round. His account of the […]

By |February 26th, 2014|Categories: History|1 Comment
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History and Humour: British and American Perspectives

A copy of History and Humour: British and American Perspectives has just landed in my pigeon hole. It’s a new book packed with interesting essays exploring the relationship between history and humour, plus an article by me to make up the numbers. My piece compares Twain’s Connecticut Yankee with Wilde’s Canterville Ghost and throws in a few newspaper jokes for good measure. Here’s how the editors’ introduction describes it:

BOB NICHOLSON, in a transatlantic comparison of late-Victorian usage of history in newspaper joke columns and comic novels, observes a struggle on the part of Britain to come to terms with America’s increasing economic and cultural superiority. Thus, joke writers and literary […]

By |November 27th, 2013|Categories: blog, Main|0 Comments