A Django site.
July 19, 2011

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Shifting Perspectives: Berlin’s Jewish Museum

History Student Fieldtrip to Germany, July 2011 Axes of Jewish Experience. Photo: Pete Driscoll. The axes of experience at the beginning of Daniel Libeskind’s controversial annex to the Jewish Museum in Berlin disorientate the visitor. They are below ground and … Continue reading

October 11, 2010

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Slaves, Speed Demons, Snake Stones: New Welsh History?

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/10/8/snapshot.jpg" alt="Welsh History Logo" />

Why a 'New History of Wales'?

The Western Mail claims to be 'ripping up the stereotypes' for Welsh History Month. Three members of Glamorgan's history division have contributed to the newpaper's 'New History of Wales' series. Drawing on their recent research, they've tackled questions with contemporary resonance.

Did Wales nurture its own brand of science, independent of its neighbours? Alun Withey looks at the case of early modern medicine).

Have the Welsh always been politically engaged, fighting for the downtrodden? Chris Evans examines the Welsh contribution to anti-slavery.

Did Wales ever experience a golden age of morality - and have we now slipped from former high standards to become a 'loutish generation'? (<http: />Andy Croll on manners and morals in South Wales)

This initiative by the Western Mail reflects the huge public appetite for history - but is new academic research, challenging existing impressions, really what's wanted? Is this 'new history' knee-jerk iconoclasm? Is the emphasis on shattering stereotypes just media-friendly rhetoric?

As well as meeting popular demand, the 'New History of Wales' is one of the first public endeavours of History Research Wales, a collaboration between researchers at Welsh universities aiming to maximise results in the sector. These articles show the researcher at work - building on results from earlier historians but also finding ways to probe under-valued sources, to capture new voices from the past. It's this broader and more representative account of historic Wales which makes it possible to speak of a 'New Welsh History'.

March 25, 2010

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Re-reading the Past

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/3/25/Screenshot.png" height="425px" alt="screenshot" width="712px" />

Saving Cardiff's Rare Books Collection

For decades, Cardiff Council Library hid a treasure – a collection of 18,000 rare books purchased and donated in the nineteenth century for the benefit of the people of the city. During the twentieth century, the books were almost forgotten – the catalogue which had recorded their existence destroyed; the hoard presumed to be an insignificant, lesser copy of greater collections elsewhere.

In fact, like any rare books, the Cardiff Council holdings were truly distinctive. Industrialised printing, developed in the nineteenth century, produces identical copies. Print with moveable type, used in European book production from the mid-fifteenth century, created books as part of a slower and more flexible process. Binding and colouring vary from one exemplar to the next , and even the text itself can vary within one print run, as the manufacturers modified text in response to political events and censors' reactions. Readers frequently added their own notes in ink, even to lavish and costly books: this was seen as a way of adding value to the material. Every item in a rare books collection is a unique artefact, offering new information about the past.

There's more still to the Cardiff collection. After it was announced in 2007 that the books were to be auctioned off, scholars protested and began a long overdue investigation of the collection. Among recorded holdings, they found 175 incunabula – the most treasured of rare books, printed before 1500: estimates for the number of incunabula editions worldwide are only 28,000. They found rare seventeenth-century editions of Shakespeare's works, with copious handwritten notes from early readers. Other highlights include scarce civil war tracts, atlases and herbariums, Welsh-language material and art-house prints. We have much more to learn about this collection: statistically, it's highly probable that it contains titles unknown anywhere else in the world. There's no doubt that its contents can help to update and revise our grasp of past events. But its mere existence is significant for Cardiff's history: the donors and purchasers of these books firmly believed that the city needed a truly world-class library, and that the books they collected would be appreciated first and foremost by the general public.

For this reason, the Cardiff Heritage Friends group campaigned for the books to be kept in Cardiff and made available to its people as the donors intended. We were delighted to learn, earlier this month, that the collection will now be preserved for the city thanks to a shared initiative between Cardiff Council, Cardiff University, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). For more on the books and the campaign, see the Cardiff Heritage Friends website.

March 9, 2010

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Recipes, Remedies, Receipts: seventeenth-century medicine revealed!

<image title="remedy manuscript" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/3/9/remedies.jpg" alt="remedy image">

New Website: Early Modern Remedies

Three hundred years ago, ‘snail water’ and ‘oil of swallows’ were just two out of thousands of everyday remedies that people routinely used to cure their variety of ailments. But where did this knowledge come from?

In the early modern period, every household was a potential storehouse of medical knowledge, with its own tried and trusted remedies. Medical remedies were shared freely from person to person and, in literate households, were often compiled into single volumes. These were valuable and enduring documents, often being handed down, and added to, over generations. For historians, they can provide a unique glimpse into the types of remedies and ingredients used, early modern illnesses and disease names, as well as a wealth of other information about compilers and the world they inhabited.

To coincide with the Wellcome Trust’s digitization of its important collection of these sources, a new website has been developed in conjunction with Warwick University to act as both an introduction to those wishing to find out more about these fascinating documents, and to forge links between groups of historians working on similar themes. The site includes a number of short contextual articles about the seventeenth-century medical world, links to online resources, including digitized collections, and also news and upcoming events. Much is already available, with more to come soon, and you may even spot an entry or two by a familiar Glamorgan historian!

Alun Withey

February 4, 2010

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Desperate Remedies?

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/2/4/wellcome5.jpg" />

The History Society Presents ... Alun Withey

What was it like to experience illness or surgery during the seventeenth century? This was a time when trained doctors were rare, surgery excruciatingly painful, if not fatal, and remedies concocted from a dazzling array of plant and animal products. People saw illness as arising from any number of factors, from an imbalance of bodily ‘humours’, planetary activity or even a punishment from God. From today’s standpoint, it seems miraculous that anyone could survive illness; but survive they often did.

In this paper, we will explore something of the experience of illness and surgery during the early modern period. We will look at how people understood illness and their bodies, the types of remedies used to cure them as well as doctors, surgeons and their techniques. While it is easy to poke fun at the sometimes apparently weird cures, we will also look at the ways in which our seventeenth-century predecessors were actually little different to us; they had the same fears about illness, the same desire to rid themselves of painful symptoms and, in some cases, provided us with remedies which are still used today.

Alun Withey is a research assistant at Glamorgan's History Division. He will speak about medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at an event organised by the Glamorgan University History Society: on Tuesday 9th February 2010, 17.00, G308 (Treforest Campus). Admission is free and open to all, and any Glamorgan staff or students interesting in joining the History Society are warmly invited to attend its meeting on the same evening at Rickards Pub Function Room, 19.10. Please contact 03020002@glam.ac.uk for more details.

June 26, 2009

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Invitation to A-Level History Conference, 16th September

<image class="left" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/6/24/schoolsdocs300.jpg" alt="images of documents" />

Glamorgan's History Division will host its annual A-Level Conference on 16th September 2009. This event is open to A2 level teachers and students. Entry is free, but schools must book places. The conference offers a taste of university life and a selection of workshops relevant to students' work on the WJEC History syllabus.

The event consists of a morning programme, free lunch, and optional afternoon session, and runs from 9.45 to 2.30. Speakers will include Caryl James, a WJEC principal examiner, Professor Chris Evans, head of the History Division, Dr Norry LaPorte, an expert in twentieth-century German History and Dr Jane Finucane, who specialises in early modern Europe.

Caryl James will open the event by explaining how students should approach the A2-level exams and assessments to maximise their chances of success. Speakers from the history division will offer workshops on finding and using sources to solve historical problems, designed to support students' independent historical investigation. Teachers are encouraged to contact us to find out how these sessions can be customised to meet their students' requirements.

In the afternoon, students may choose to attend lectures on Nazi Germany or on the German Reformation. These lectures will be delivered by subject experts and will be relevant to the A-Level in-depth studies on these areas.

Glamorgan's History division is rated first in Wales for research quality and student satisfaction. We're expanding our schools programme to share our expertise with teachers and students preparing for exams. To find out more about this and future events, or to book a place for your school on this conference, e-mail Jane Finucane (jfinucan@glam.ac.uk)

June 18, 2009

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Glamorgan Historians work with Welsh Museums

<image class="left" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/6/18/museums.jpg" alt="Photographs, Museum Storehouse and Cardiff City Centre">

Two of Glamorgan's historians, Dr Jonathan Durrant and Dr Andy Croll, are working with Welsh museums as part of the Strategic Insight Programme (SIP). The programme enables staff in universities to build relationships with external partners.

Jonathan Durrant has been working with The National Museum of Wales at St Fagan's on the interpretation of space in its early modern buildings, particularly Hendre'r-ywydd Uchaf and the merchants' house from Haverfordwest which is currently being re-erected there. This secondment will lead to a workshop drawing together the expertise of historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, re-enactors and architects.

Andy Croll is working with museum experts who are setting up the 'Cardiff Story', a new museum dedicated to presenting the city's history. The museum is to be based in the Old Library in the Hayes - the former home of Cardiff Municipal Museum which closed its doors in 1922. Since that time, Cardiff has been without a civic museum dealing with the city's own history. The 'Cardiff Story' will fill that gap when it opens in the summer of 2010. Dr Croll has been joined on the museum's Academic Panel by two other Glamorgan historians - Professors Chris Evans and Gareth Williams.

History students will also benefit from the experience gained by Jonathan and Andy. Second-year students already visit St Fagan's while learning about different approaches to history. With these new collaboration, there are opportunities for student placements with the two museums and exciting courses in Public History can be developed that build on the insights gleaned in both Cardiff and St. Fagan's.

June 15, 2009

History Division News
hisdivnews
is about »
» Age of Magnificence

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/6/15/baroquebanner735.jpg" alt="Pallacio" width="745" />

What was Baroque?

If you’re in London this summer don’t miss Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence. This exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum showcases the dominant European artistic style of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries

What was baroque? Most of all, it was exuberant. As the exhibition catalogue explains, baroque art ‘did not stand shyly by, hoping to be noticed. Paintings, sculpture and decorative arts swirled with vigorous action and strong feelings.’

The baroque - whether expressed in architecture, painting or sculpture – had a flamboyance that would have even Graham Norton pursing his lips. Why so? Part of the explanation lies with artistic patrons. The commanding baroque style expressed the growing power of princely courts and the aims of the Catholic Church in the Counter-Reformation.

<image class="right" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/6/15/Baroque_crop.jpg400.jpg" />

Monarchs, following the lead of Louis XIV of France, wanted an art and architecture that trumpeted their power. It’s no accident that the most grandiose projects of the age were the work of ambitious and powerful princes. Republics (like Holland) and weak, crisis-ridden monarchies (like England) were not major centres of the baroque.

Baroque style was also taken up with enthusiasm by the Roman Catholic Church as it sought to roll back the Protestant Reformation, the great doctrinal revolt of the sixteenth century. Protestantism was deliberately sober in form. The reformers looked down upon visual showiness. Scripture was the key to salvation. The Catholic Church retaliated by taking the opposite tack: lavish display was one of the best ways in which the untutored masses could be brought to understand the majesty of God.

Like the Church, baroque was international. It was, the exhibition organisers claim, the first global style. It coincided with the earliest overseas European empires, so some of the finest examples can be found in South America, in India, and in the Far East.

A sample of what’s on offer can be found at the exhibition’s website. You’ll be stunned by the opulence on show. You may also, like me, be repelled by the selfishness of Europe’s ruling elite.

Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence runs at the V&A; until 19 July 2009.

Chris Evans