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 humorists tended to "juxtapose images of the American future with those of an idealised British past" and emphasised the "centrality of history to British national identity at a time when the country’s future was beginning to look increasingly uncertain." This uncertainty may also be observed in the fact that British humorists turned to the past in the attempt to reaffirm British superiority, yet the popular reception of transatlantic humour at the same time indicates an acceptance of modern American culture in Britain. I couldn't (and, in fact, didn't) put it better myself!
The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals has just announced the next Gale Fellowship competition. I was fortunate enough to win the inaugural competition. The prize money and the archive access were great, but more importantly it drew me into the RSVP community and helped me to meet some brilliant scholars and make many new friends. Any PhD students working with nineteenth-century periodicals should take a look. Details of the competition are listed below. Please re-circulate. The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) is pleased to announce the fifth annual Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship, made possible by the generosity of publisher Gale, part of Cengage Learning, in support of dissertation research that makes substantial use of full-text digitized collections of 19th-century British magazines and newspapers. A prize of $1500 will be awarded, together with one year's passworded subscription to selected digital collections from Gale, including 19th Century UK Periodicals and 19th Century British Library Newspapers. Purpose: The purpose of the Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship is two-fold: (1) to support historical and literary research that deepens our understanding of the 19th-century British press in all its rich variety, and (2) to encourage the scholarly use of collections of full-text digital facsimiles of [...]
Excellent news! Welsh Newspapers Online have added six new titles to their database: Cambrian News 1860 -1910 Cambrian 1804-1910 Cardiff Times 1858 - 1910 Monmouthshire Merlin 1829 - 1884 South Wales Daily Post 1893 -1900 Weekly Mail 1879-1910 I was really impressed with this free-to-access archive when I reviewed it back in March. The new titles represent a significant expansion of the database - particularly in its coverage of South Wales. I've run through my usual set of searches and discovered another example of the 'You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest' joke!
Have you heard about ARTEMIS? Don't worry, it's not another one of the NSA's high-tech spying programs - unless they're looking for terrorists by scrutinizing our ancestors' private communications, which, in the light of recent revelations, isn't actually that implausible. I first became aware of the project a few months ago when I was invited by email to pass judgement on some prospective logos. I picked the other one, which just goes to show how much I know about corporate branding. At the time I wasn't really sure what Artemis was, save for the fact that it was named after the Greek goddess of hunting, wild animals and virginity. I've been wondering which of her three characteristics the new project would resemble and, rather disappointingly, it turns out to be the first. Artemis is Gale's new research platform. It's a space where users can access and analyse material from multiple digital archives using analytical new tools. In it's own words: "Artemis is a path-breaking research experience that unites Gale's globally acclaimed digital archives and reference collections. By building a seamless research environment for multiple collections, Gale is creating the largest digital humanities and social sciences collection in the world. Starting with Eighteenth [...]
As an academic and bleeding-heart liberal I've long considered it my duty to read The Guardian. It's hard going sometimes, but most days I manage to grit my teeth and get through it. Lately, however, my commitment has started to waver. In my weaker moments I find myself logging onto the Daily Mail website and gawping wondrously at its bi-polar diet of moral outrage and showbiz gossip. It seems that an eight year old American girl has been murdered by a sex offender that her family befriended in a Walmart, but on the plus side Abbey Crouch is showing off her beach body and Tulisa looks super slim in a tight print dress as she parties for the first time since her drugs arrest. It's a relief just to know that she's OK. Of course, I'd never admit to reading any of this stuff. I leave The Guardian website open on my office computer in order to impress passers-by, but browse the Daily Mail in incognito mode and only when the house is empty. After all, calling somebody a 'Daily Mail Reader' is just about the worst form of abuse imaginable in the lefty intellectual circles I frequent. If my occasional acts of [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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, [...]
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 [...]