Dr Bob Nicholson's Research Blog|bob.nicholson@edgehill.ac.uk
14 09, 2012

You Kick The Bucket; We Do The Rest

By |September 14th, 2012|blog, Journal Articles|0 Comments|

My article on the transatlantic circulation of a 19th century newspaper joke has just been published in the Journal of Victorian Culture.
‘You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest!’: Jokes and the Culture of Reprinting in the Transatlantic Press
“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 […]

2 06, 2012

It’s alive!

By |June 2nd, 2012|blog, History, Journal Articles|0 Comments|

In Mary Shelley’s version of the story, Victor Frankenstein locks himself in a laboratory for two years in order to pursue his scientific research. He is driven by an insatiable appetite for discovery, but when he finally witnesses the results of his labours he is filled with an overpowering sense of dread:
“I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room…”
I was reminded of this passage a few weeks ago on the morning of my PhD viva. It had been more than a month since I had last read my thesis, but in preparation for the big event I plucked up the courage to have a final look. It was a mistake. Every page seemed to bring a fresh disaster; a grammatical error here, a missing footnote there, and so many sentences that I longed to rewrite. Three and a half years earlier I had set out to create something beautiful. Now, as I looked upon it with fresh eyes, I saw only a […]

5 12, 2011
  • jonathanjokes
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    ‘Jonathan’s Jokes: American Humour in the Late-Victorian Press’

‘Jonathan’s Jokes: American Humour in the Late-Victorian Press’

By |December 5th, 2011|blog, Journal Articles|1 Comment|

My first academic article will be published in the next issue of Media History. It’s all about ‘American Humour’ columns and their role in shaping transatlantic relations during the late nineteenth century. For those of you who can’t wait to read it in print (hello?… is anybody still here?), an advance copy is now available on the journal’s website. Unfortunately, a subscription to Media History is required to view it – unless you’re mad enough to pay £21 to buy your own copy (in which case send the money directly to me and I’ll throw in a signed photograph). It’s going to be published as part of a special issue on ephemeral print culture which will include fantastic articles by Jim Mussell, Laurel Brake, Adrian Bingham, Pam Epstein (author of the brilliant advertisingforlove.com), and Karl Christian Führer. A perfect Christmas gift for the discerning historian-about-town.

Abstract:
During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, columns of American jokes became a regular feature of numerous British newspapers. The Newcastle Weekly Currant, for example, had a weekly column of ‘Yankee Snacks’; The North Wales Chronicle had ‘American Humour’; the Hampshire Telegraph its ‘Jonathan’s Jokes’; and the Northern Weekly Gazette sported a ‘Stars and Stripes’ […]