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Posts from the ‘Bookshelf’ Category

Cheating for Love. Notes on “Notes on camp”

by Federica Tammarazio
Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy

Pentesilea.org

For LGBT History month, we are happy to host art historian Federica Tammarazio to celebrate the anniversary of “Notes on camp” by Susan Sontag.

Fifty years ago (fifty-one actually) art critic Susan Sontag published “Notes on camp“, a series of reflections on Camp culture. According to her own definition, “Notes on camp” was not meant to be a manifesto, but rather a tool to define and understand ‘camp’ sensitivity, which she thought “more appropriate for getting down something of this particular fugitive sensibility. It’s embarrassing to be solemn and treatise-like about Camp”[1]

What was camp back then? And what is it now?

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Responses to BBC Radio 4 Germany: Memories of a Nation “Divided Heaven” Part 2

by Tiia Sahrakorpi and Janine Noack

This morning the second episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Germany: Memories of a Nation aired. Janine Noack (JN) and Tiia Sahrakorpi (TS) provided...

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Responses to BBC Radio 4: “Germany: Memories of a Nation” Part 1

by Tiia Sahrakorpi and Janine Noack

This morning, the first episode of the BBC radio 4 programme Germany: Memories of a Nation aired. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, presented...

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Beach reading for historians (or why simple writing makes your argument smarter)

by Marta Musso

Summer reading is always tricky for young academics. On the one hand, the summer holidays are the perfect and unique time of the year to relax and read all the pleasant, light novels that you never have time for. On the other hand, summer is also the time to catch up with all the serious reading that is not directly related to your research project but you know you should read sooner or later.

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Period dramas and historical accuracy: “Mad Men”

by Florence Largillière

As the first part of the last season of Mad Men comes to an end, it seemed a good opportunity to reflect on my interest for period dramas and historical fictions. For an historian, watching period TV shows and films can sometimes be irritating. Even though I know that they are not academic works and that they do not necessarily aim to perfectly depict history, I more than once find myself grumbling at my screen (yes, I am looking at you, Downton Abbey!). However, from Boardwalk Empire to Ripper Street via, obviously, Mad Men, there are many quality period dramas which, while taking a few liberties with the stories of existing individuals, give the essence of what life looked like for a certain population at a certain time.

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HHhH by Laurent Binet (English Translation by Sam Taylor, 2012)

By Emily Ward

In the beginning of his historical novel, Laurent Binet warns the reader with a quote from Osip Mandelstam, “Once again, the writer stains the tree of History with his thoughts”. Yet, despite commencing his book with this ominous forewarning, Binet leaps straight into the fray to attempt to combine the composition of a novel with the approach of historical writing. And (in my opinion) he succeeds with style. Read more

Thomas Cromwell on stage

By Joan Redmond

Next month sees the London opening of the theatrical productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the two hugely successful novels by Hilary Mantel that focus on the life of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell rose to become Henry VIII’s chief minister during the tumultuous 1530s, which witnessed the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn as well as the beginnings of the English Reformation. Mantel’s books have been justly praised, winning almost all the major literary prizes and reinvigorating Cromwell for a new audience.

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What papers won’t tell you: “The battle of Algiers”

By Marta Musso

I would like to inaugurate film reviewing on DHP with “The battles of Algiers” by Gillo Pontecorvo, perhaps the most important film on terrorism and counter insurgency ever made. It tells the story of the Algerian war by focussing on the years 1956-1957, the period of guerrilla warfare in the capital.

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“There’s no such thing as the Middle Ages…”

By Emily Ward

What does the early Middle Ages have in common with the Illuminati, the moon landing and JFK? The answer – that, like the other three, it has also been the subject of a conspiracy theory – may come as a surprise. This conspiracy, often called Phantom Time Hypothesis, suggests that the early Middle Ages never really existed. When conspiracy theories like this come into direct conflict with accepted historical fact, how should we, as historians, approach them?

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Daniel Smail’s On Deep History and the Brain

By Julia Bourke

Every history has a beginning. But if you were attempting to write a complete history of human beings, where would you choose to start? Daniel Smail attempts to answer this question in his book On Deep History and the Brain, which looks at history from a completely different perspective than a historian normally would.

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Top 10 Nazi Cultural History Books

by Tiia Sahrakorpi

While there are a plethora of works on Nazis from every aspect ever, and no list can include everything, I’ve picked out my favourite books and the most useful books that I’ve used for my research at both a BA level and MPhil/MA level. These works are just starting-off points on Nazi German cultural and social history that have always jumped out of bibliographies.

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“Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”

By Richard Simpson

From our earliest days on the long winding path to becoming historians we are taught adulterating source materials is an almost sacrilegious offence. But what would happen if we had never been taught this central tenet of our academic discipline?

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John Gibney, The Shadow of a Year: the 1641 Rebellion in Irish History & Memory (2013)

By Joan Redmond

Northern Ireland and its troubled past has been in the news a lot in the past few months. First, there were the failed 2013 negotiations chaired by Richard Haass that aimed to deal with the legacy of the Troubles; in the past few weeks, controversy has again erupted over the collapse of the John Downey trial, and the ‘secret’ letters issued to on-the-run IRA members. Northern Ireland continues to be a troubled land, and in John Gibney’s book, he examines the afterlife of one of the most important events in Irish history, and the breeding ground of subsequent conflict.

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BBC Live Debate on World War One

by Tiia Sahrakorpi

Was the Great War a great mistake? 100 years on, historians and the public reflect on Britain’s involvement in World War One – a debate led by Niall Ferguson on BBC Two, Friday 28 February 2014. It then was moved to Radio 5 Live at 10.30 pm – 11.30 pm through which Professor Helen Weinstein (@historyworkstv) chaired the online debate via blogging and Twitter. Overall, over 4000 tweets were sent to #WW1, #pityofwar and #necessarywar. Here are some exerts from the debates found on Twitter: a TINY sampling of the various debates and thoughts of viewers and listeners. Read more

Margaret F. Rosenthal and Ann Rosalind Jones, The Clothing of the Renaissance World (2008)

by Katy Bond 

When Cesare Vecellio published his celebrated book of world dress in 1590, the Earth’s horizons must have seemed to the Venetian artist, to be ever-expanding. First published under the title, ‘Degli habiti antichi et oderni di diverse parti del mondo’ (‘Of the clothing, ancient and modern, of diverse parts of the world’), his work claimed to offer its readers an encyclopaedic reference for the appearances and cultural habits of people the world over. Having been republished as a facsimile edition – with English translations – by Thames & Hudson in 2008, Vecellio’s invaluable research is now easily accessible to the historian interested in early modern clothing.

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A. Roger Ekirch, At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime (2005)

by Ella Hollowood

The premise of A. Roger Ekirch’s At Day’s Close is a relatively simple one: what was nighttime like in Western society before industrialisation and modern lighting? Yet the result is a rich and fascinating study of ‘the forgotten half of the human experience’ and of a fundamental shift that took place between the late 17th and early 19th centuries in Europe. Drawing from evidence in diaries, correspondence, memoirs, court records, plays and illustrations, Ekirch highlights the stark contrast between our own experience of nighttime and that of our ‘pre-industrial’ ancestors.

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