Archive for June, 2012

Anglo-American conference 2009
‘An architectural peepshow’: visualising and recreating the city in exhibitions and museums
Alex Werner (Museum of London)

A Dream of John Ball

In 1888, William Morris in A Dream of John Ball described a dream of ‘an architectural peepshow…a clear-seen mediaeval town standing up with roof and tower and spire with its walls, grey and ancient, but untouched from the days of its builders of old.’ This paper will chart the development and reception of city models, dioramas and recreated historical spaces in exhibitions and museums from the eighteenth century through to the early twentieth century from a largely London perspective. Displays to be considered include the large model of the Liverpool docks at the Great Exhibition, the recreated ‘London in the Olden Times’ street at the International Heath exhibition of 1884 and the models of old London made by John Thorp for the 1908 Franco-British exhibition at the White City, later acquired by the London Museum and subsequently supplemented by the Great Fire model.

To listen to this podcast click here.


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For the UK, 2012 is turning into one of those years where celebrations mingle with fears of recession and global economic catastrophe.  It’s an odd mix.  The hosting of the Olympics and Paralympics Games this summer alongside the recent celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee are historic events worth taking a moment to think about. 

The IHR and Wiley have therefore published a special issue of the Historical Research journal on the subject of Sports and Celebrations.  This special issue combines a selection of previously published papers and History SPOT podcasts on that very theme.   Have a look at it through the link below: 

Historical Research Special Issue: Sports and Celebrations

History SPOT itself is also home to a range of podcasts on the topic of sports via our Sports and Leisure History seminar group (click on the link to look at those podcasts).

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Today History SPOT looks back to 2009 to when we held our annual Anglo-American conference on the subject of Cities.  The first two podcasts (the welcome by the IHR Director Miles Taylor and the plenary paper entitled Ideas of the Metropolis by Derek Keene) are now online, with more to follow over the course of the next week or so. 

Derek Keene is far from a stranger to the subject of Cities.  Indeed, he is the founding director of the Centre for Metropolitan History and his own research has focused on towns and their regional setting in early medieval Europe.  For more have a look at our 2008 interview with Derek Keene for the Making History project

As a taster also check out Keene’s article D. Keene, ‘Metropolitan comparisons: London as a city-state’, Historical Research 76 (2004), 459-80 which was first published in Historical Research journal and explores the ideas associated with the term ‘metropolis’. 

To listen to the welcome and Derek Keene’s podcast please click here, and please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

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The 81st Anglo-American conference will be held by the IHR at the beginning of July on the topic of Ancients and Moderns.  How does the modern world (in respective periods) look upon the ancient past?  How is it used to validate the present or inform the discourse?  These are questions that will be tackled in different ways by a variety of speakers.  For example, Paul Cartledge (Cambridge) will ask how democratic the Ancient Olympics were while David Womersley (Oxford) will look at the thoughts of gibbon about antiquity and modernity.  Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA) will reflect on the Indian transmission of ancients and moderns while Constanze Gűthenke (Princeton) examines classical scholarship about the Transatlantic. 

There are also sessions on politics, culture, military education, humanism, collectors of antiquities, landscapes, religion, sports (including Olympics) and ideas of empire amongst much else. 

The full programme and abstracts can be found here: http://www.history.ac.uk/aach12

If you would like to join us then please do sign up to this year’s Anglo-American.  It takes place at Senate House, University of London over two days (5-6 July).  There’s still room so if you would like to find out more about the programme or register for the event please click here: Anglo-American conference 2012: Ancients and Moderns.

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Sir Walter Raleigh (c. 1554-1618) well known as an Elizabethan explorer and soldier, is also known to have written a sonnet entitled Fortune Hath Taken Thee Away, My Love.  It is believed that Raleigh wrote this sonnet as a response to the rise of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and thus making a complaint over his own fall from influence.  In her publication of the sonnet Gordon Braden has reiterated the belief amongst scholars that ‘Fortune’ was a code name for the Earl of Essex and that Raleigh was informing Elizabeth that this brought him ‘to woe’ and that the Earl was now ‘my mortal foe’.



Fortune Hath Taken Thee Away, My Love


Fortune hath taken thee away, my love,

My life’s soul and my soul’s heaven above;

Fortune hath taken thee away, my princess;

My only light and my true fancy’s mistress.


Fortune hath taken all away from me,

Fortune hath taken all by taking thee.

Dead to all joy, I only live to woe,

So fortune now becomes my mortal foe.


In vain you eyes, you eyes do waste your tears,

In vain you sighs do smoke forth my despairs,

In vain you search the earth and heaven above,

In vain you search, for fortune rules in love.


Thus now I leave my love in fortune’s hands,

Thus now I leave my love in fortune’s bands,

And only love the sorrows due to me;

Sorrow henceforth it shall my princess be.


I joy in this, that fortune conquers kings;

Fortune that rules on earth and earthly things

Hath taken my love in spite of Cupid’s might;

So blind a dame did never Cupid right.


With wisdom’s eyes had but blind Cupid seen,

Then had my love my love for ever been;

But love farewell; though fortune conquer thee,

No fortune base shall ever alter me.

–          Gordon Braden, Sixteenth-century poetry: an annotated anthology [2005], p. 337.

A second sonnet, often argued as having been written by Elizabeth herself, mocks Raleigh in reply.  For more on this have a look at a blog post on Hobbinol’s Blog – Writing the English Renaissance: Elizabethan Courtly Love.

This is just one example of the role that music played at the Tudor court.  Its enactment was political and personal reflecting ideals of courtly love and influencing the process of internal and foreign relations. 

Dr Katherine Butler (University of Oxford) has discussed this topic in more detail on one of the History SPOT podcasts entitled: Recreational Music-Making and the Fashioning of Political or Diplomatic Relationships at the Court of Elizabeth I.  In this paper Butler argues that musical performances in the form of lute or virginal productions carried out in private chambers or in the form of more public displays shaped courtly identity and influence and acted as a carefully staged enactment to express grievances, intent, and personality at court.  Butler gives various examples ranging from Lord Darley, Walter Raleigh, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

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At the moment there are only a few podcasts on History SPOT specifically looking at the British monarchy and none on Elizabeth II.  So, a special series of blog posts wasn’t possible for the History SPOT blog during this week of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Nonetheless, we do have a podcast on the topic of the Queen’s namesake, Elizabeth I, which will hopefully do instead. 
Sport and Leisure History seminar
14 November 2011
Recreational Music-Making and the Fashioning of Political or Diplomatic Relationships at the Court of Elizabeth I
Dr Katherine Butler (University of Oxford)

Elizabeth I c. 1590

Katherine Butler examines music making at the court of Elizabeth I.  Courtly music was generally viewed as a thing for the young and in the case of the queen was a useful political tool integral to her marriage negotiations, foreign diplomacy and to the continued operation of her court.  Nobles would vie for position through the production of such performances forging a ‘politics of intimacy’, as David Starkey has noted.  Elizabeth too would perform.  Indeed, unusually (and to some extent scandalously) Elizabeth continued to make music well into her 60s. 

Butler argues here that musical performances in the form of lute or virginal productions carried out in private chambers or in the form of more public displays shaped courtly identity and influence and acted as a carefully staged enactment to express grievances, intent, and personality at court.  Butler gives various examples ranging from Lord Darley, Walter Raleigh, and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

To listen to this podcast click here. 

Tomorrow I will look a little more at Elizabeth I’s enactment of music with Sir Walter Ralaigh.

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I have some exciting news for you today.  In the first of many updates to the History SPOT website that we will be undertaking over the next few months, we have now made available all of our back-catalogue of podcasts available outside of the registration.

This means that you no longer need to sign-in to listen to our podcasts.  This also means that the IHR have now realised over 200 past events including seminars, conferences, workshops and lectures for free access on the internet (under a Creative Commons licence).  These include our Anglo-American conferences, seminars from Voluntary Action History, Sport and Leisure History, and Digital History  (to name but a few).

This summer, we will be working hard to make History SPOT easier to navigate and access.  The site will be more closely linked to our main website (www.history.ac.uk) especially where it overlaps with our research training programmes, and we will be releasing even more content in the form of podcasts, research training handbooks and modules, and a few new features that I talk about a bit more in future posts. 

For now, though, please do have a look around the podcasts in History SPOT to see what’s there, especially if you haven’t done so in the past.  If you like what you see please do register to be able to comment on the podcasts and to access our freely available research training content which includes handbooks on Databases, search engines, and podcasting (with much more to come). 

Tomorrow I’ll return to discussing our podcasts with a two part blog post about music-making in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.  So do stay tuned!

Click here to access the podcast pages on History SPOT

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