Department Seminar Series, autumn term 2018

All seminars are held on Wednesday at 4:30–6pm in Edith Morley 126. Refreshments are provided and all are welcome!

10h October, Professor Patrick Major (Reading): ‘Keep Calm and Carry On?: The Bomb, the BBC and 1984’s Threads’

31st October, Dr Hannah Newton (Reading): ‘”A Double Delight”: Spiritual Experiences of Recovery from Illness in Early Modern England, c.1580-1720’

14th November, Dr Laura Slater (Oxford): ‘Courtly Rumours and Reputation Management in Fourteenth-Century England’

The Stenton Lecture, Thursday 22nd November

Professor Nicholas Vincent (University of East Anglia): ‘The Letters of England’s Kings and Queens 1154-1215: A Vast New Resource?’

12th December, Professor Matt Worley (Reading): ‘Whip in My Valise’: British punk and the Marquis de Sade, c. 1975-1985’

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‘As you love your father so love her’: Remembering the marriage of Francis Sitwell and Harriet Augusta Manners, 26 September 2018

by Hilary Matthews, PhD student

My thesis explores the idea of an ‘agricultural friendship’ among a group of men, from different backgrounds, who were interested in progressive farming at the turn of the nineteenth century. I am especially interested in the regular attendees at the 1804 Woburn sheepshearing, whom George Garrard identified in his print of the same name. Most of these men are not well known; indeed, many are hardly known at all, which has made compiling biographical sketches of them challenging, to say the least. One of them, Francis (Frank) Sitwell (1774-1813), was a rich, young Northumbrian landowner, who fell on hard times.

Woburn sheepshearing

George Garrard, ‘Woburn Sheepshearing’ (1811 engraving, after his own painting). © Trustees of the British Museum

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A Life on the Ocean Wave: This Week in Maritime History

by Dr Richard Blakemore

The Golden Hind 'when Drake set off for the Spanish Main', PW7916

The Golden Hinde, Francis Drake’s ship in his 1577 circumnavigation, depicted in a later watercolour. © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Early modern maritime history has been in the news a lot this week.

On Monday, the BBC ran a story about the London, a seventeenth-century wreck in the Thames. On Tuesday, the Guardian revealed a new (and shocking) discovery from the manuscript autobiography of a sailor. On Wednesday, there was news of the possible discovery of the Endeavour, Captain Cook’s exploring ship, although this is not confirmed; and, of course, it was ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’. Last night, a new show started on Channel 5, Great British Ships, which will feature the sixteenth-century Mary Rose and Golden Hinde, and the HMS Victory, among others.

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Writing the Noise: The Second International Conference of the Subcultures Network, 6-7 September 2018

by Prof. Lucy Robinson and Prof. Matthew Worley

The conference programme front page

Writing the Noise: the conference programme.

Last week saw the University of Reading’s History department host the Second International Conference of the Interdisciplinary Network for the Study of Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change. Titled ‘Writing the Noise’, the event centred on a key question: ‘how do we write about sound and the cultures that form around music?’. Being cross-disciplinary, and with the Network committed to dialogues beyond academia, the conference included contributions from music writers, musicians, and fanzine producers, as well as papers by academics in History, Sociology, Musicology, Cultural Studies, Politics and English Literature. The event was truly international, with delegates from Europe and beyond. Having formed in 2011, the Network – represented here by Prof. Lucy Robinson (Sussex), Prof. John Street (UEA), and Prof. Matthew Worley (Reading) – was able to once more expand its contacts in a genuinely collaborative and congenial atmosphere.

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‘Our Friend Rommel’: How Hollywood invented the ‘Good German’

by Professor Patrick Major

Twenty years ago the Polish-American installation artist Piotr Uklański mounted an exhibition simply called ‘The Nazis’ (you can see many of the photographs from the exhibition here). It showed 164 images of Wehrmacht officers in uniform, but on closer inspection viewers saw not historical figures but Hollywood actors, almost none of them German. Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, and even Eric Idle and Michael Palin of Monty Python, were in the line-up. Uklański was making a point that post-war popular culture had fetishised – indeed glamorised – the suited-and-booted Nazi German officer.

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