David Hempton’s latest book is the best, most authoritative, and most imaginative overview of the history of the world-wide Christian Church in the period between the late 17th and early 19th centuries we have to date.
The postmodernist phase of historical theory has all but drawn to a close.(1) Nonetheless, there are still pockets of resistance and for some strange reason Britain has been one of the strongholds.
Where does the history of consumption happen? The answer would be easy for the history of production: the workplace. Historians can use a well-understood taxonomy to organise their research: the farm, the factory, the office and so on. The history of consumption has never had this precision, thanks to the less location-specific nature of consuming.
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
Historians who would assess the careers of contemporary religious leaders are on a hiding to nothing.
The art of making and using invisible ink, James Daybell informs us, was both described in printed books of secrets and manuscript recipe books and practised by letter-writers in early modern England (pp. 166–8).
This collection of essays forms an excellent Festschrift for Professor John Hatcher, whose eclectic range of research is displayed by the volume’s division into three parts: the first explores the medieval demographic system; the second charts the changing relationship between lords and peasants; and the third highlights the fortunes of trade and industry after the Black Death.
Simon Burrows proclaims the database that he and a team of researchers from the University of Leeds published last June as ‘a wonder to behold’, and indeed it is wonderful. Entitled The French Book Trade in Enlightenment Europe, 1769–1794.
Sinners? Scroungers? Saints?: Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth-Century England offers a rich and fascinating study of the National Council of the Unmarried Mother and Her Child (later the National Council for One Parent Families, then One Parent Families and now Gingerbread), a charitable organization that was established to provide support for unmarried mothers and their children.
This impressive collection has its origins in 2007 when the editors organized a conference on the regular canons in the British Isles, to shine a light on current research on this form of regular life. Scholarship on the regular canons has been rather overshadowed by that on the Benedictines and Cistercians, but this multidisciplinary publication does much to redress the balance.