Archive for December, 2013

Digital History seminar
9 October 2012
Camille Desenclos (ENC, Sorbonne)
Rethinking Historical Research in the Digital Age: A TEI Approach


Abstract: Historical research cannot be conceived without a close relation to physical text:  paper is still the main source. However the emergence and subsequent multiplication of digital technologies within the historical field have tended to modify the examination of sources. This change is particularly apparent for text editions: how is one to manage the transfer from the manuscript age to a digital one? Can sources be understood and analysed without physical support?

This paper will be based on experiences of using electronic editions of early modern texts, specifically diplomatic correspondences such as L’ambassade extraordinaire du duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux vers les princes et potentats de l’Empire. TEI, a XML-based language, has been chosen for those editions. Using such a structured language – a far cry from the plain text created by classical text editors – implies changing the conception of what an edition is. We need not just think about texts anymore but only about the historical information contained within the text and which has to be highlighted in terms of the research. This requires researchers to think more about what they want and what they want to show in their studies. Above all, it allows researchers to track specific features such as diplomatic formulas and then to facilitate their analysis.

The aim of this talk is to ask if and how digital technologies have changed how historians view sources and even if they have changed the historical studies themselves; how TEI can be used to create new kind of editions. This paper will try to show how, if well used, TEI and digital technologies highlight and add to the results of historical studies.


Biography:  Camille Desenclos is currently completing her PhD at the École nationale des Chartes where she is also engaged in leading several projects to create electronic editions of medieval and early modern texts including an edition of the correspondance of Antoine du Bourg. Her PhD is entitled ‘The Communication Policy of France in the Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the Thirty Years War (1617-1624)’. A fundamental part of her PhD research includes creating electronic editions and the encoding and ciphering of diplomatic correspondence and structures in related medieval charters. Camille has given numerous conference papers largely concentrating on the Text Encoding Initiative and its application to her research. She was also a Visiting Researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) at King’s last year. An electronic edition of the ‘Ambassade extraordinaire des duc d’Angoulême, comte de Béthune et abbé de Préaux’ which she has written will be available online shortly.

To listen or watch this podcast go here.

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Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Tsar Alexander II (d. 1881) (wikipedia)

Whose Home? Jewish migration and local reaction in the East End of London 1870-1914

Oliver Betts (York)
Metropolitan History seminar
13 February 2013

This is a guest post from the IHR intern Paris Jones (Roehampton)

In this seminar, Oliver Watts discusses and explores the cultural differences between Jewish migrants and their non-Jewish neighbours in East End London which caused tension between the two groups. After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, there was an increase of Jews moving into the East End of London. Watts notes that the Jewish migrants were not welcomed by their non-Jewish neighbours and as they moved in, their gentile neighbours moved out.

As more Jewish migrants began to settle in London, the gentile neighbours began to worried about their way of living. They felt that the new migrants were taken all the jobs from them. Oliver Watts suggested that the attitude towards the Jewish migrants was not because of their religious background but because of the cultural differences.

The way the Jewish migrants dressed and lived was foreign to their neighbours. The Jewish migrants lived off of little and worked long hours. They rented in the areas they worked so that they could live and worked at the same place. There were many similarities between local working class and Jewish migrants. The anxiety of the influx of the Jewish migrants allowed propaganda to be created in the area.  Jewish families co-existed with non-Jewish families and rarely crossed over. Not only did this cause tensions but cultural separation and misunderstanding.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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Voluntary Action History
30 January 2012  
Gareth Millward (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
Disability and Voluntarism in Britain, 1965-1995: an effective force in policy making?


Ted Heath (wikipedia)

Ted Heath (wikipedia)

Go back to the 1970s and you might see Ted Heath ridding around on a ‘Noddy’ car.  Depending on which generation you come from you will either know what this is or not.

What has this got to do with a History SPOT podcast I hear you ask?  Well, the voluntary action history seminar held a session back in January 2012 in which Gareth Millward mentioned Ted Heath’s ride in a Noddy car as part of a talk on the role of voluntary organisations in the adaptation of disability legislation between the 1960s and 1990s.  It seems, on this occasion at least; only through practical experience did politicians listen to those arguing that the Noddy car was unsafe.  The car was withdrawn soon afterwards.

In this paper Millward investigates the political climate leading up to the disability acts and in particular the role of various types of voluntary organisations and individual networks that played a role either through lobbying or via provision of expert evidence.  Millward looks at the topic through the lens of the polar-opposite models of the medical (i.e. that disability is a medical issue) and social (that disability is a construct of society and that the main issue is that a person cannot perform a specific social function and thus is discriminated against).  These models formed the bank-bane to discussions, debates and lobbying around the issue of disability.

A 'Noddy car' or invalid Carriage c. 1976 (wikipedia)

A ‘Noddy car’ or invalid Carriage c. 1976 (wikipedia)

Several organisations are singled out as particularly important to the discussion.  First are those organisations who actively lobbed government through the use of academic research.  First are the Disability Income Group (DIG) who were founded in 1965, then the Disability Alliance and Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) both founded and active in the 1970s.  Then there are the groups formed by those actually with disabilities some of which were not prone to lobbying or playing politics but to actively helping those who needed their help on the local or national level.  This second group included the Union of Physically impaired against Segregation who would later become part of the British Council of Organisations of disabled people.  The third group were societies such as the Spastics Society (now renamed SCOPE).

Millward’s podcast is well worth listening to if you have even a passing interest in the subject.  Taken in context of other podcasts by the Voluntary Action History seminar it acts as a reminder that history is not just an academic subject to be studied but a subject that should enable debate on current day affairs.  Great strides have occurred in enabling people with disabilities to overcome those difficulties and reach an equal level of activity in society.  However, there is more work to be done and podcasts such as these can be taken to help formulate new debates and discussions based upon older ones.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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