Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
To be or not to be – who has not heard, used, or abused this phrase, written down over 400 years ago? Who cannot conjure up a spontaneous image of the Bard, or name at least one of his plays? Shakespeare has performed a feat that few other writers have achieved across the globe: he has been elevated to a symbol of national culture. But when did you last stop and ask yourself what the point of having a so-called national poet really was?
Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
Anna McKay | 6 February 2017
Defining medieval romance has troubled scholars and readers alike for centuries, but the blurb to William Goldman’s cult classic The Princess Bride (1973) offers as comprehensive a description of the genre as any. Indeed, compare this broad taxonomy to the medieval Breton lays described in the introduction to the fourteenth century verse romance, Lay Le Freine:
Sum bethe of war and sum of wo,
And sum of joie and mirthe also,
And sum of trecherie and of gile,
Of old aventoures that fel while;
And sum of bourdes and ribaudy,
And mani ther beth of fairy.
Of al thinges that men seth,
Mest o love for sothe thei beth. (5-12)
Dylan Taylor | 6 February 2017
In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans have “a lively faith in the perfectibility of man…They all consider society as a body in a state of improvement”. Such descriptions help explain our common stereotype as pragmatic idealists with a penchant for exaggerated emotions and an uncomfortable awkwardness in the face of negative, or even ambivalent, sentiments. Studies  have implied what many introverts could readily describe: America is a land where being quiet or reflective can induce strange looks or even pity. Being slow-to-judge—a trait so often honored by moral philosophers throughout history—is, to that subset of Americans which subscribes to a masculine, red-blooded vision of our tenets, seen instead as a sign of weakness and naiveté. This diluting of issues into binaries—weak or strong, moral or immoral, right or wrong—is a cultural tendency that has seemed to reach its apotheosis in the theatrical build-up to the new presidency and its traumatic fallout.
June 27, 2016 | Niki Holzapfel
In 2013, when Baz Luhrmann released his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, more than a few people scratched their heads at his choice of soundtrack. Produced by Jay-Z, the album features rap, Fergie, and a U2 cover. Most of it sounds nothing like the 1920s. It led one writer for the music site Noisey to ask, “Who Let The Great Gatsby Soundtrack Happen?”
March 7, 2016 | Harriet MacMillan.
I wrote the above poem in 2012, but it had been in gestation for some time. I first encountered David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793) in 2006; I clearly recall finding the artwork, detailing the French revolutionary’s death in his bath tub at the hands of Charlotte Corday, at once stark and yet curiously sterile. I still retain a fascination with Marat and his murderer Charlotte Corday, described posthumously as ‘l’Ange de l’Assassinat’. I am not alone in my fascination; Corday’s brutal killing of Marat has inspired many artists and writers. But what do artistic acts of rewriting history teach us? Can they ever truly represent those figures who have inspired or horrified us?
November 26, 2015 | Patrick McGhee.
History means talking to each other. More now than ever before, members of the public are able to join with students, researchers and academics in order to communicate and connect across departments and disciplines, countries and continents. Digital platforms and social networks such as academia.edu, WordPress and Twitter can both augment and change the way we share and debate ideas.
November 1, 2015 | Adam Cohen.
I’ve now written two dissertations during two different degrees with a grand total of 25,000 words on Japanese and Chinese history and yet whenever I tried to tell anyone what I was working on I would, without fail, have the following conversation: ‘Oh so how well do you speak Japanese/Chinese?’ I don’t, and I sure as hell can’t read it. ‘When are you going out to China/Japan?’ I’m not, at least not before the deadline. These were fair enough questions to ask and no doubt someone who did speak the language would have written a much better thesis than the one that I churned out. I know a lot of people though who started to narrow down a global research area, came up against these language/travel barriers, and immediately veered away from non-English history entirely, and I think this leaves a wealth of potential scholarship unexplored.
November 2, 2015 | Cherish Watton.
The Women’s Land Army was a civilian organisation set up during World War One and used again in World War Two until 1950. Women replaced men on the land, working in multiple roles in agriculture, forage (haymaking for food for horses) or timber cutting. What can we learn about the representation of women’s wartime work from The Landswoman journal?