In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Professor Roy Foster about his recent book, Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923, as well as issues surrounding Anglo-Irish history, historiography and biography.
Both the problematic discourses of ‘professional/amateur’ and ‘public/private spheres’, and also the multifaceted hierarchies between the fine and the applied arts, have received substantial academic enquiry in the last thirty years. This is particularly true for the art historians researching the cultural activities of middle-class women in 19th-century Britain.
The period 1550–1700 saw the ‘golden age’ of the English alehouse. Although ale had long been consumed as part of a daily diet in England, it had mostly been produced on a domestic scale, and its retail had tended to be sporadic and temporary.
The title of Richard Brookhiser's biography of the 16th President indicates the innovative nature of its perspective. Brookhiser contends that new light can be shed on Lincoln's personal and political evolution by tracing his regular reflections and adaptations of the ideas of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Biography has always been as something of the black sheep of historical writing; we cannot do without it, yet it always looked down upon, particularly by those in the profession that are committed to more high-flown subjects and methods of analysis. Yet there can be no doubt that John Campbell has made a serious contribution to British political history through his biographical studies.
In one of Disraeli’s novels, we are told to ‘read no history, nothing but biography, for that is life without theory’. It is a maxim that political historians, in particular, have taken enthusiastically to heart, though they may find the current generation a less attractive prospect. Of our current party leaders, few have led especially captivating lives.
Amanda E. Herbert’s fresh and important study of women’s alliances in early modern Britain opens with a quotation from Mary Evelyn listing the duties of elite women in the late 17th century. Reading as follows: ‘the care of children’s education, observing a husband’s commands, assisting the sick, relieving the poor, and being serviceable to our friends’ (p. 1).
In Mediatrix Julie Crawford seeks to expand our understanding of women’s contributions to early modern literary and political culture. Crawford seeks to look beyond the concept of the woman writer to instead focus on the ‘startling range of women’s literary practices’ and the ‘collaborative nature of literary production’ in pre-modern England (p. 3, p. 4).
History has demonstrated assimilation under colonial occupation to be a near impossible result to attain due primarily to its basic premise: the colonizers’ belief in their superiority over the colonized. Furthermore, the colonizers’ ambition to replace the colonized people’s ‘inferior’ culture with their ‘superior’ culture further complicated this process.
A People’s History of the French Revolution is David Fernbach’s translation of Eric Hazan’s 2012 book Une histoire de la Révolution française. The change of title hints at what indeed is Hazan’s original stance in his account of this historical event, an event that up to now has never ceased to fascinate writers and intellectuals.