The film Selma opened on 9 January 2015 to a barrage of criticism about its historical accuracy. Though unable to use any of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words due to copyright issues, the movie attempted to recreate the tense scene in Selma, Alabama on the eve of the passing of the 1965 Voter’s Right Act. Providing fodder for cinema critics were reenactments of several important touchstones of the American Civil Rights Movement: Bloody Sunday, the struggle between the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Commission (SNCC) and Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), as well as Martin Luther King’s relationship with Lyndon Johnson. Read more
Posts from the ‘Bookshelf’ Category
Typing #WolfHall into Twitter reveals no end of enthusiasm about the BBC’s current Tudor drama. Even Prince Charles has admitted to ‘enjoying’ it.1 However, not everyone is happy. Historian and television presenter David Starkey has described both the novel and the TV adaptation as a ‘deliberate perversion’ of history, expressing particular discontent at the level of emotion shown by Thomas Cromwell.2 Read more
by Federica Tammarazio
Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy
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”
What was camp back then? And what is it now?
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...
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.