Showing posts from March, 2013

In which I sit through a conference session (British version)

I've just come back from the Social History Society's annual conference, which this year took place at the University of Leeds. You can see the twitter feed here: storify.

It reminded me again of the wonderfully amusing rant written by Larry Cebula, originally on the Chronicle of Higher Education's 'conferences and academic travel' forum, and then reworked into a proper article in that paper.
Original forum post link 
Reworked article link

Larry's main point was about the tendency for historians to read their papers out loud, word for word, in conference sessions. When social scientists, and indeed scientists, hear that this is standard practice at history conferences, they usually throw their arms up in horror and confusion: 'what? you read out your paper word for word? you don't just extemporise from the powerpoint slides?' Larry also comments on the usual death by powerpoint, or other crummy presentation flaws.

However, I don't think he is sayi…

What are history seminars for? Employability, #badacademia, or just history?

Two stories have hit the headlines in the Times Higher this week:

1. Steve Starson's complaint about having to give up a seminar in his history course to teach first years how to write a CV;
2. academics' response to Michael Gove's categorisation of 'good academia' and 'bad academia'. The debate among #twitterstorians in particular hinting that Gove regards such skills as critical thinking, enquiry-based learning and student presentations as #badacademia.

 This has struck a chord with me today, as this week's teaching has been a bit of a trial (it's week 9, the students are getting stressed about their assessment and the upcoming exams and their lack of careers etc etc), and I've been doing some self-reflection about whether the changes I have made to my teaching style are working.

Last year, I converted my 3rd year special subject module, 'Popular Protest, Riot and Reform in Britain, 1760-1848', into a blended learning module, with an e…

Plotting all the places in Papers Relative to the Internal State of the Country, 1819

I've just tried out BatchGeo as a quick way of plotting my spatial data.

Just create a csv file of locations and associated data, copy it as a table in their website, and then it plots the points for you, in a nicer and more user-friendly way than, say, google fusion tables. It's exportable as a kml file too.

So here are (most of) the places mentioned as meeting sites in Papers Relative to the Internal State of the Country, 1819, the appendix to the parliamentary committee which provided evidence to support the passing of the Six Acts after Peterloo.

View Papers relative to the internal state in a full screen map
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Obviously most activity was centred on Manchester and its surrounds, with other activity in Huddersfield-Leeds-Halifax, and also some reports of meetings in Newcastle and Paisley. The pattern perhaps tells us much more about the relative state of active magistrates and military leaders across the country. It is certainly not definitive evid…

Protest history workshop #3, Cheltenham, 2/3/13

'Sarah Short refused to sign this Examination before me, R. Wright'. Manchester, 5 May 1812.
TNA, PL 27/9.

Charged with being at the Luddite attack on Burtons' powerloom mill at Middleton, Lancs, on 21 April 1812, this woman made a defiant act of resistance by refusing to sign the record of her examination by the Manchester magistrate Ralph Wright of Flixton Hall.

But is this protest? Did it work? Can protest be individual? What is the difference between protest, collective action, resistance and opposition?

These were questions we had asked at the first workshop on 'new approaches to the history of protest' back in 2011, and returned to last weekend at the third workshop at the University of Gloucestershire.

I started off the day with some reflections on the spatial turn in history (see extended version in my HWPP paper) combined with some questions about the legacy of E. P. Thompson, given that there are so many commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the…