History Talking: Series 1
Presented by Dr Ruth Salter, produced by Dr Richard Blakemore.
Presented by Dr Ruth Salter, produced by Dr Richard Blakemore.
by Dr Richard Blakemore
At the end of June, I attended a conference in Amsterdam to mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch navy’s raid on Chatham dockyard in 1667. The raid is most famous for the Dutch capture of the English flagship, the Royal Charles, the decorated stern of which is still on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
by Dr Dan Renshaw
In May 1897 Constable and Co published a limited print run of a new novel by a London-based Irish theatre manager and occasional author named Bram Stoker. Stoker had enjoyed moderate critical recognition with a series of overly-sentimental pot-boilers and ghoulish short stories over the course of the 1890s; there was nothing initially to indicate that this new effort would be any more successful. This new title was odd, and exotic, Dracula, with an equally unusual subtitle – The Undead.
The newly established Monroe Group is an interdisciplinary research network for the study of politics in the Americas.
The network is designed to encourage dialogue between scholars in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences working on all aspects of politics in the American continent. It has been developed in response to recent expansion of staff and student recruitment working in the field of US and Latin American politics at the University of Reading.
by Dr Jacqui Turner
So yesterday was International Women’s Day and women were everywhere – literally we were all over the place, in the media, online, on TV and crowded around both front benches in the House of Commons as, in yesterday’s budget, the Chancellor announced a further £5 million for projects to celebrate the centenary of the partial franchise in 1918:
It is important that we not only celebrate next year’s Centenary but also that we educate young people about its significance. It was the decisive step in the political emancipation of women in this country and this money will go to projects to mark its significance and remind us all just how important it was.
This month is Womens’ History Month and today, 8th March, is International Womens’ Day.
So we’ve taken the opportunity to talk to Dr Rebecca Rist, one of the few young female academics working on the medieval papacy, and find out more about her research.
by Philippa Sale 
There was some confusion at the Academy Awards this weekend when ‘La La Land’ was incorrectly announced as the winner of the Best Picture Oscar, the real winner being ‘Moonlight’. Away from this embarrassing mix-up another Best Picture nomination has been released into UK cinemas and that film is the absolutely phenomenal ‘Hidden Figures’. It is directed by Theodore Melfi and is based upon the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The tale of ‘Hidden Figures’ focuses on three African-American women who helped to win the space race for America. The three women’s incredible stories are intertwined with each other in this true story. Each of the three women in question broke countless social boundaries in order to pursue their dreams. These women’s names were Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Katherine Goble Johnson, played by Octavia Spencer (who absolutely deserves the Best Supporting Actress nomination that she got for this film, by the way), Janelle Monáe and Taraji P. Henson respectively. Continue reading
by Dr Richard Blakemore
One of the first assignments given to Reading history undergraduates is to write a précis, or summary, of one chapter from a selection of well-known books by eminent historians on the theory and purpose of the discipline. Marking this exercise last term led me back to writings and arguments that were familiar, but which I had not read for some time. It made me think about some of the underlying principles that ‘jobbing’ historians don’t reflect on all that often while occupied with the brass tacks of teaching and research. I have just started lecturing at Reading this year, and a similar assignment is also the first thing I can remember doing from my own undergraduate days, so it seemed like a good moment to pause and reflect. Here are some things from three of the texts that caught my eye.1
by Jodie Larkin and Nikki Rai
In accordance with LGBT+ history month, this vlog explores Oscar Wilde’s infamous stay in Reading Gaol (later HM Reading Prison). During the late nineteenth century, Wilde was at the height of success: hit wit, style and sharp writings propelled him into the heights of both Dublin and London society. However his infamous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, also known as Boise, would ultimately lead Wilde to imprisonment. The brutal Victorian system, isolation and Reading Gaol itself changed Wilde. This video explores inside the prison in which Wilde spent part of his bleak sentence and the prisons relationship to the town that marked the latter half of Wilde’s life. Through a variety of artist exhibitions, including contributions from Nan Goldin, Steve McQueen and many others, the prison’s history is brought alive with an open and defiant honesty.
by Dr Rebecca Rist
It was not an April, but a September early morning, when the good pilgrims of Reading assembled at the shrine of St James in St. James Catholic Church near the abbey ruins where we are still looking for the body of Henry I which one day will make our town as famous as Leicester. Unlike Chaucer’s pilgrims we were not off to Canterbury, but Santiago de Compostela. Also, unlike our medieval predecessors, a coach stood ready outside the Church to take us to Stanstead airport. Yet, doubtless as for many a pilgrim before us, the parish priest led us in prayer as we lit a candle before a modern shrine to a medieval saint. Continue reading
by Dr Ruth Salter
If you were asked to think of an unassuming British animal, I would hazard a guess that the first creature to come to mind would be something – small, brown, possibly squeaky – like a mouse or hedgehog. So unassuming is the toad that I bet you’d not have even given it a second thought (if it wasn’t for the title of this post). Yet whilst we might think of toads as little more than ‘dry frogs’ (a phrase I once heard a five year old use to describe them with some accuracy) our medieval counterparts were much more wary of these pesky polliwogs. Continue reading
We are delighted to issue a call for papers for Reading University’s biennial Early Modern Studies Conference, ‘Complaints and Grievances, 1500-1750’ (10th-11th July 2017).
There will be three strands running through the conference:
The keynote speaker is Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen (Leiden), talking about affliction and consolation in early modern England.
See below for further information on submitting paper proposals for the conference, and particularly the strand for medical grievances:
“The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight!”
“Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) is learning which is supported, mediated or assessed by the use of electronic media and it has a fundamental role to play in the delivery of the University’s strategic objectives. TEL concerns the use of new or established technology and/or the creation of new learning materials; it can be utilised both locally and at a distance and it can cover a wide range of activities, from the use of technology to support learning as part of a blended approach, to learning that is delivered wholly online.”
(University’s Vision for Technology Enhanced Learning, 2013)
Tickets £10, Concessions £8 (all tickets are inclusive of booking fee)
For this was on seynt Volentynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
For this was on St. Valentine’s Day
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.
many write that it [Lupercalia] was anciently celebrated by shepherds… At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.
On the stone called Abarquid… It is found in Africa, in the sulphur mines. It is light and hard to break. And on the outside its colour is green with some yellow. It is flat in shape, and when men observe it carefully, it appears to have the form of a scorpion. If it is broken, the same scorpion shape is found inside… If a woman carries it, its power will make her so lust for a man that she will restrain herself only by a great effort of will, and it has the same effect on any female animal.
Dill… in order for a man to extinguish the pleasure and lust of the flesh which is in him, he should, in summer, take dill, and twice as much water mint, and a little more tithymal, and the root of Illyrian iris. He should put these in vinegar, and make a condiment from them, and frequently eat it with all his foods. In winter he should pulverise these and chew the powder with his foods, since at that time he cannot obtain the fresh herbs with their vital energy.
Sparrow hawk… A man or a woman who burns with lust should take a sparrow hawk and, when it is dead, remove the feathers and throw away the head and viscera. He should place the rest of its body, without water, in a new clay pot perforated with a small hole, and heat it over the fire. Under this pot he should place another new clay pot, and catch the fat that flows off. He should then crush calandria and less camphor and mix them with the fat. He should heat this again, moderately, on the fire, and make an unguent. The man should anoint his privy member and loins with it for five days. In a month the ardour of his lust will cease, with no danger to his body. The woman should anoint herself around the umbilicus, and in the opening of the belly button. Her ardour will cease within a month. When the month is finished, the person, man or woman, should oil himself – or herself, and thus have relief from lust.
Congratulations to all of our students who will be graudating this year. We are very proud of you and are sure that you will continue to succeed in your future careers.
With careers in mind … Kevin Thompson from the Careers Centre, Carrington Building, has this message he has asked us to relay to you:
The University Careers Centre provides significant support to you for twelve months after graduation. Whether you are looking to identify job and further study options, want to know where to find relevant job vacancies or would like some coaching to get through the recruitment process Careers are there to help. If you are staying around Reading or returning at any point you can arrange a face to face meeting in the Carrington Building. If you aren’t able to visit we can arrange a discussion via email, phone or skype. To see a Careers Consultant to get things going just ring Careers on 0118 3788359 or email email@example.com.