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Open Access: The $2,950 Book Review

A few months ago I reviewed Leah Price's latest monograph for the European Review of History. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain explores nineteenth-century representations and perceptions of books and other printed objects such as newspapers and religious pamphlets. It's an interesting study and well worth a look for  anybody who works on Victorian print culture. A hardback copy with 350 pages will set you back £15.56 on Amazon - not dirt cheap, but more reasonable than a lot of academic monographs. Still, if you'd prefer to read my review before handing over your hard earned cash then you'll soon be able to find it on the Taylor and Francis website.  If your institution already has a subscription to the European Review of History then you'll be able to digest my wise words for free, but if not then please don't despair - you'll have the option to buy a copy of my review for the perfectly reasonable price of £23.50.  It's 1,114 words long - that's about four sides of A4 paper - and will be sent to you in the form of a handsomely presented PDF. How could you resist? It's moments like this - when a 4 [...]

By |June 19th, 2013|blog, Uncategorized|2 Comments
  • timescover

The Pleasures of Print 2: This Time It’s Personal

I'm hooked. Back in December I wrote a blog post about the pleasures of handling the original copies of old newspapers. This week, I managed to get my hands on a few more. I've been researching the history of The Times in advance of a guest appearance on Great British Railway Journeys - the popular BBC2 history series presented by Michael Portillo. It was all rather exciting (I even got my hair cut) until my contribution was squeezed out of the tight filming schedule. TV superstardom will have to wait. On the plus side, I ended up ordering a selection of old newspapers and periodicals to use in the shoot that have since consoled me in my time of disappointment. Once again, the good people at Historic Newspapers (who I'm starting to think of as my 'dealer') ventured into their archive and dug out two copies of The Times from the middle of the nineteenth century. The first comes from 18 October 1845. I ordered it because it contains an editorial on 'Railway Mania' - a financial frenzy of the mid 1840s when thousands of Victorians invested their savings in railway companies, many of which were fraudulent or mismanaged. The Times condemned this craze for speculation and "[contemplated] with pity the enormous [...]

By |April 18th, 2013|blog, Uncategorized|2 Comments
  • victoriangents

‘Looming Large: America and the Victorian Press, 1865-1902’

To celebrate the anniversary of finishing my PhD thesis I've decided to make it available online! A substantially updated version should materialize in the form of a monograph sometime in the next year or two, but hopefully this will do until then. If you enjoy the thesis, reference it in your work, or have any comments at all, I'd love to hear from you (unless you spot any typos). 'Looming Large: America and the Victorian Press, 1865-1902' Widespread popular fascination with America, and an appreciation of American culture, was not introduced by Hollywood cinema during the early decades of the 20th century, but emerged during the late-Victorian period and was driven by the popular press. By the 1880s, newspaper audiences throughout the country were consuming fragments of American life and culture on an almost daily basis. Under the impulses of the so-called ‘new journalism’, representations of America appeared regularly within an eclectic range of journalistic genres, including serialised fiction, news reports, editorials, humour columns, tit-bits, and travelogues. Forms of American popular culture – such as newspaper gags – circulated throughout Britain and enjoyed a sustained presence in bestselling papers. These imported texts also acted as vessels for the importation of other elements [...]

By |April 14th, 2013|blog, Uncategorized|2 Comments
  • whokick

Welsh Newspapers Online

Historians have a new toy to play with. The National Library of Wales has just launched Welsh Newspapers Online - a new digital archive that will eventually provide access to more than 1 million pages of Welsh newspapers. If, like me, you missed the big launch event on Wednesday you can catch up with the twitter stream (#papur) or read a copy of Jim Mussell's brilliant seminar paper. It's a bit too early to give the archive a full review. The site is still in beta  (advanced search features and the ability to download articles have not yet been implemented)  but it already promises to shake up the landscape of digital newspaper research. Open Access At first glance, the arrival of yet another digital archive might not seem like such a momentous occasion. After all, we've become rather accustomed to these resources in recent years - the 19th Century British Library Newspaper Archive and the British Newspaper Archive already provide access to hundreds of British newspapers and have quickly become embedded within our everyday research practices. However, Welsh Newspapers Online has an important new string to its bow - it's completely free to access. Whilst the British Library has been forced to work with commercial partners to fund its digitization program, [...]

By |March 15th, 2013|blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments
  • institution_full_359_Edge_Hill_University_the_campus20120906-2-1713hid

PhD Studentships at Edge Hill

We've just announced some exciting new PhD studentships at Edge Hill University. Each award includes a full waiver of postgraduate tuition fees as well as free  accommodation on campus (or a cash equivalent in lieu). Winners will be expected to teach for up to six hours per week. An annual stipend in the region of £7,380 will be paid at monthly intervals. Research proposals are invited in the areas below: African American History Crime and punishment history in modern Britain The portrayal of slavery/the slave trade in museums and the heritage industry with particular reference to Britain and the United States. The Digital Humanities: Nineteenth-Century Journalism History or Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Cultural History If you'd like to work with me then the fourth bullet point is the one to aim for. The deadline is Monday 18 March. The History team at Edge Hill is a highly rated and dynamic group. Our research and teaching are focused on Modern History, from the end of the 18th to the end of the 20th centuries, in Britain, Europe, North America and the Middle East. All full-time members of staff were entered for the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in 2008 and 30% of their published research was [...]

By |March 5th, 2013|Announcements, blog|2 Comments
  • kickthebucket

‘You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest’

My article on the transatlantic circulation of a nineteenth-century newspaper joke is currently free to access until June 30th 2013. Get it while you can! Abstract In December 1893 the Conservative candidate for Flintshire addressed an audience at Mold Constitutional Club. After he had finished attacking Gladstone and the local Liberal incumbent, he ended his speech with a joke. He advised the Conservative party to adopt, with regard to the government, the sign of an American undertaker: ‘You kick the bucket; we do the rest’. How did a sign belonging to a Nevadan undertaker become the subject of a joke told at a political meeting in North Wales? This unlikely question forms the basis of this article. Using new digital archives, it tracks the journey of the gag from its origins in New York, its travels around America, its trip across the Atlantic, its circulation throughout Britain and its eventual leap into political discourse. The article uses the joke to illuminate the workings of a broader culture of transatlantic reprinting. During the final quarter of the nineteenth century miscellaneous ‘snippets’ cut from the pages of the American press became a staple feature of Britain's bestselling newspapers and magazines. This article [...]

By |March 5th, 2013|blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments
  • coglogo

The Digital Turn

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail informing me that one of my articles on digitisation was about to be published in Media History. I still feel pleasantly surprised whenever my work materializes in print, but this news was particularly unexpected - by the time it finally appeared I'd almost forgotten about writing it. Looking back through my files, it seems that the first draft of the article was finished on 8 October 2010. The piece was accepted by the guest editors of a special issue of conference proceedings and, in March 2011, I submitted the finished version to the journal. 10 months later, the piece was peer reviewed and I submitted some minor revisions. It was officially accepted on the 18 of June 2012, and finally appeared online in January 2013. More than two years have passed since I first wrote the article. A lot of things have happened to me in that time: I completed my PhD, wrote four other articles, worked at three different universities, moved house three times, crossed the Atlantic twice, learned to drive, and started this blog. The article, on the other hand, is largely the same as it was in October [...]

By |January 6th, 2013|blog, Open Access|2 Comments
  • CLEVER DETECTIVES - The Dart The Birmingham Pictorial (Birmingham, England), Friday, May 11, 1894

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Repeat Prescription

It's been a record breaking year for British sport. Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Andy Murray triumphed at the U.S. Open, our Olympians earned an impressive stack of gold medals, and ex-footballer Gary Linekar celebrated his 18th year as the face of Walkers crisps. It's a remarkable achievement. Speaking to Digital Spy back in March, the former England striker confidently proclaimed that he was responsible for spearheading "quite comfortably the longest-running celebrity-endorsed campaign" in advertising history. He's not even close. An advert has recently been doing the rounds in which Sherlock Holmes endorses the miraculous healing powers of Beechams Pills. It's not the great detective's finest hour. Shorn of his deductive powers by a troublesome head cold, Holmes only regains his crime-solving abilities thanks to a timely dose of Beechams Ultra All In One. Conan Doyle must be spinning in his grave. Holmes is rather vulnerable to this sort of treatment. The copyright on his adventures expired in 1980, leaving him open to all imaginable abuses and adaptations. However, it turns out that Beechams' relationship with Sherlock pre-dates this landmark by quite some distance. Way back in 1893, the following advert began to appear in British papers: Watson loses [...]

By |December 21st, 2012|blog, History|0 Comments
  • Reading The Times

The Pleasures of Print

Something's wrong with me. As a self-styled Digital Victorianist I'm supposed to prefer pixels over print. I get my news online, my books on an e-reader, and for the last five years I've been preaching the gospel of digital history to anybody who'll listen. I rarely put pen to paper (as anybody who's received a barely legible Christmas card from me this year will attest). In fact, I can't remember the last time I spent a whole day without looking at a computer. I am, in short, a dyed-in-the-wool screen junkie. Or at least that's what I thought. Lately I've been flirting with the dark side. A few weeks ago the good people at Historic Newspapers sent me a handsomely packaged selection of old periodicals. The first paper to catch my eye was a reprint of the London edition of The National Police Gazette from 26 May 1897. It's a delightfully salacious paper filled with saucy illustrations of Victorian girls showing off their ankles, strapping boxers flexing their biceps, and the occasional portrait of a racehorse. The most outrageous material appears in the adverts at the back of the paper. A notice for 'Mrs Rose's Famous Female Mixture' offers to [...]

By |December 18th, 2012|blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments


Peter Jackson spent somewhere in the region of $150 million dollars on the first instalment of his Hobbit trilogy. My first foray into film making comes in slightly under his budget. Last weekend, I had a go at converting one of my favourite old conference papers to video. The aim was to enter one of the BBC's recent academic talent competitions, but my finished entry stretched so far over the prescribed 2 minute limit that I've almost certainly disqualified myself. I got a bit carried away. On Saturday morning I started with a webcam and a basic script; by Sunday evening my home office had been converted into a makeshift film studio. A sizeable chunk of Jackson's cash was spent on high tech CGI facilities, but it turns out that similar effects can be achieved with some sheets of green paper, a roll of sellotape, and a pair of Primark trouser hangers. Who needs a tripod when you've got an unsteady pile of overdue library books? The biggest saving, of course, comes from casting somebody who already looks a bit like Gollum. You can view the result below. A full-length, twenty minute, epic version of the Skedaddle story should hit [...]

By |December 16th, 2012|blog, Uncategorized|3 Comments