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Preview: History Workshop Journal - current issue

History Workshop Journal - current issue



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Visions in a Ninth-Century Village: an Early Medieval Microhistory

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

Microhistory is an approach that has largely passed the study of the early Middle Ages by, chiefly for lack of suitable evidence. This article however suggests that an account of a ninth-century peasant’s vision can be read to recover a microhistory of a rural priest in northern Francia, and draws out the implications for how the local societies of the period might be viewed.




Women, Occupations and Work in the Victorian Censuses Revisited

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

There has long been a tendency amongst historians to view the Victorian censuses of England and Wales as a problematic source for studying the work of women. This article examines some of the key works underpinning this claim and shows their shortcomings, especially in relation to their extrapolation from isolated local studies to the national picture. Drawing upon comparisons between local census returns in East Anglia and London, and other nominal records, the authors show a high degree of agreement between the occupations of women found in the various sources. The range of occupations indicated in the census, and changes therein over time, fit what historians know of the changing economies of the localities studied. The provisional conclusion is that the nineteenth-century census returns are a reliable source for the study of women’s work in the period, and this opens up new fields of study.




Jane Groom and the Deaf Colonists: Empire, Emigration and the Agency of Disabled People in the late Nineteenth-Century British Empire

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

This article explores an emigration scheme envisioned by Jane Groom, a deaf woman, whereby deaf working-class people from the East End of London would be relocated to Manitoba. During the 1880s and 1890s about fifty families emigrated under Groom’s auspices. This article has three aims. Firstly, recovering the life of Jane Groom enables us to think about disabled activism and agency in a global arena: her activities were widely discussed both in the British Empire and in the US, and she undertook them as a disabled person because, not in spite, of her disability. Jane Groom’s life is an example of advocacy and activism in a period when we have few details about disabled figures, female ones still less. It also reveals a thriving deaf community which merits attention as a distinct social group. Secondly, her life allows us to think about the way in which disability connected with wider concerns: with, for example, the philanthropic milieu in late Victorian London, nineteenth-century anxieties about the body, and issues of emigration and settlement. Thirdly, it helps us to think about the relationships between different kinds of colonizing practice within the British Empire.




A Lawyers Letter: Everyday Uses of the Law in Early Nineteenth-Century England

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

Ordinary working-people had the means and the knowledge to pay a local attorney to write a letter on their behalf to those who had offended them, or owed them money. This article relates ‘the lawyer's letter’ to other informal law practices of the early English nineteenth century and discusses the letters themselves as part of the multi-faceted epistolary culture they inhabited.




Labour and the War Emergency: the Workers National Committee during the First World War

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

Discussions of the British Left and the First World War have often focused on strikes, conscientious objection and the anti-war movement. Yet this focus on opposition to the conflict obscures the important actions taken by the labour movement to protect the most vulnerable from the worst effects of the war. Central to the Left’s actions during the war was the War Emergency: Workers’ National Committee (WNC). This body – incorporating the broad spectrum of the labour movement – campaigned against the erosion of living conditions, represented ordinary Britons at the very highest levels of power, acted as a conduit for information from the localities to the centre, and ensured labour cohesion across the draining years of the war. On issues from food prices to rent controls, military pensions to wage levels, the WNC campaigned on behalf of the ordinary men and women of the home front. It is argued in this essay that the Committee made a vital and undervalued contribution to the actions of the labour movement during the war, ensured that the Left remained cohesive and relevant throughout the conflict, and contributed to Labour’s emergence in 1918 as more a united and purposeful party than it had been in 1914.




The Quennells and the 'History of Everyday Life in England, c. 1918-69

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

This article argues that a new popular social history, the ‘history of everyday life’, emerged in England after the First World War. Couched in the rhetoric of ‘democratization’, this version of social history was an afterlife of the Arts and Crafts movement and is the prehistory of post-1945 mass history teaching and popular heritage tourism techniques. However, it occupies an ambiguous historiographical position between the decline of Victorian romantic and Whiggish histories, and the rise of ‘history from below’ in the 1960s. Therefore, the ‘history of everyday life’ has hitherto been poorly conceptualized. This article unpacks this new social history using the life and work of Charles Henry Bourne Quennell (1872–1935) and his wife Marjorie Quennell (1883–1972). The Quennells were the authors and illustrators of a four-volume series of interwar bestsellers called A History of Everyday Things in England, which remained in print until the late 1960s. Through an examination of the intellectual influences, networks of socialization, and practical activities surrounding these books and their authors, a significant but under-examined window into the history of British social history is revealed.




Byron, Gandhi and the Thompsons: the Making of British Social History and Unmaking of Indian History

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

This paper explores the influence of the Indian nationalist movement on the formation of British social history by highlighting the intellectual and social bonds between key nationalists and the Thompson family (Edward Thompson and his sons Frank and E. P. Thompson). A twentieth-century preoccupation with Byron, whose Romantic views of freedom and nation were shaped by the period of colonial conquest, hangs over the joint intellectual and political history of Indian nationalism and British socialism. Besides the Thompsons, Mohandas Gandhi, T. E. Lawrence, George Orwell, Rabindranath Tagore, and Jawaharlal Nehru are key figures in this web of influences and homages. Tracing this intellectual inheritance exposes the fundamentally anti-historical nature of Perry Anderson’s recent critique of the ‘Indian Ideology’, particularly of its religiosity. The study reveals how the colonial and orientalist context in which Romanticism, nationalism, and the historical discipline took shape continues to colour our ideal and expectations of ‘secular modernity’.




Feminist Bookshops, Reading Cultures and the Womens Liberation Movement in Great Britain, c. 1974-2000

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

Historians of the Women’s Liberation Movement have long stressed its decentralized form, with a deliberate refusal of the infrastructure of leaders and formal institutions. Instead, like other social movements of the 1970s and 80 s, periodicals, networks of friends, and informal meeting places tended to provide the impetus for the development and diffusion of feminist ideas and strategies of protest. This article examines the significant role that bookshops played in this process, as politicized and commercial spaces. Feminist bookselling is situated within a longer tradition of bookselling, and understood as part of a wider process of attempting to bring social justice concerns to bear within capitalist settings. The feasibility and effect of women-only principles in bookshop settings is explored; bookshops emerge as contentious sites of activism in their own right.







Catholic Modernity and the Italian Constitution

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00

This article analyzes the Catholic contribution to the Italian republican and democratic Constitution of 1948. It focuses on the specific way – inspired by Catholic social philosophy – in which the Italian citizen became symbolically coded as a ‘person’ and not as an ‘individual’. The Catholic project for the new Constitution had a considerable impact on modern Italian culture and politics and on the building of a modern mass democracy and welfare state. During the crucial historical juncture that followed the collapse of Fascism, Catholic politicians and intellectuals sought to interpret and give direction to the idea of political modernity, producing a positive encounter between Catholicism, democracy, and freedom. At the theoretical level, the argument is embedded within a larger aim to recognize attempts within Catholic philosophy and political thought to articulate a trajectory that moved away from the Enlightenment model, trying instead to articulate a Catholic, post-liberal and ‘spiritual’ political modernity.







Feeling Shakespearian

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




The Everyday Uses of Class

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




What Soldiers Do

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




Friendly Invasions

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




The 'Brainwashing Dilemma

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




Listening to Solidarity

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




A Service to the World?

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00




Terence Ranger, 1929-2015

2016-04-27T03:02:14-07:00