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RESEARCH NEWSLETTER

Department of History
Research Newsletter:
Spring 2006

Medieval History

At the heart of Medieval History at Reading is the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies. Contributing to the Centre from the Department of History are Dr Anne Lawrence, Dr Margaret Yates, and a new chair of Medieval History. The GCMS celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2005, making it one of the oldest centres of its kind in the country. It marked this anniversary by hosting the Fourth International Conference on The Medieval Chronicle, which was attended by delegates from countries world-wide. It also held a Summer Symposium in honour of Professor Malcolm Barber on the theme of 'The Crusades and the Templars'. The Centre runs a popular MA in Medieval Studies. It also publishes two e-journals: Reading Medieval Studies and Reading Medieval Reviews. Research seminars run by the Centre have recently focused on 'The Medieval Book'. This is the particular area of expertise of Dr Lawrence. She is the author of Manuscripts in Northumbria in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (D.S. Brewer, Woodbridge, 2003). She is currently working on a major research project on book production and use in English nunneries. Dr Yates specializes in the rural history of Medieval England. She will shortly be publishing a major study, From medieval to modern: society and economy from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries in western Berkshire.

Early Modern History

Another well-established group is the Early Modern Research Centre. The Centre's principal staff from History are Prof Ralph Houlbrooke, Prof Richard Hoyle, Dr Helen Parish, Dr Stephen Taylor, and Dr Rachel Foxley. The focus of the research conducted by these scholars is predominantly the political, social and economic history of Britain in the early modern period, although Prof Holbrooke's work embraces Britain's relations with continental Europe. As Director of the EMRC, Prof Houlbrooke organised two major international conferences: 'Text and Image, England 1500-1750' (July 2002), and 'James VI & I 1567-1603-1625: Quatercentenary perspectives' (July 2003). A volume of essays resulting from this conference will be published by Ashgate. The Centre's third conference, 'Europe and the Islamic World: Cultural Transformations, 1453-1798', organised by Dr Mark Hutchings (School of English and American Literature) was held in July 2004. Dr Foxley is also an associate member of the Political Theory Centre, based principally in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Relations, and led by Dr Alan Cromartie, another Early-Modernist at Reading. The Centre organises biennial colloquia on the History of Political Thought (2003 'Late Hobbes'; 2005 'The Levellers'; 2007 'Utopias'). Prof Hoyle is the author of The Pilgrimage of Grace and the politics of the 1530s (Oxford University Press, 2001, paperback 2003) He recently won a grant of £537,959 from the AHRC to complete a project on the Calander of Patent Rolls for Elizabethan England. Prof Houlbrooke is currently working on a major research project on Britain in Europe, 1500-1780, which promises to offer an important reinterpretation of Britain's relations with mainland Europe in the Early-Modern period. Dr Parish is the author of Monks, Miracles and Magic: Reformation Representations of the Medieval Church (Routledge, 2005). She is currently working on clerical celibacy and marriage in the English Reformation period. Dr Taylor is a co-director of The Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835, a major collaborative project run in conjunction with staff from the University of Kent and King's College, London. The project has attracted grants from the AHRC worth a total of £840,000. Dr Foxley specializes in seventeenth century British political thought. She will shortly be publishing The Levellers and the nature of English political life (Manchester University Press). Adding further weight to Early Modern Studies at Reading is Dr David Trim, lecturer in History at Newbold College, Berkshire, who has been an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History since May 2000. He is co-editor of Amphibious warfare 1000-1700: Commerce, state formation and European expansion (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2005) and Cross, crown and community: Religion, government and culture in early modern England, 1400-1800 (Oxford, Bern & New York: Peter Lang, 2004). He will shortly be publishing a major monograph, English mercenaries and the Protestant cause in Europe 1562-1610 (Cambridge University Press).

French History

In 2004 Prof Nick Atkin and Dr Frank Tallett from the Department of History helped to launch Reading's Centre for the Advanced Study of French History. The Centre has already organized two major international conferences at Reading: 'The Entente Cordiale: Celebrating 100 Years of Franco-British Relations' (2004), and 'Revisiting the Liberation: France 1944-1947' (2005). Two members of the Centre - Dr Tallett from History and Professor Joël Félix from the Department of French Studies – are developing a project entitled 'Mapping France: Cartographical Resources for the Study of French History and Politics'. Its long-term aim is to create an online database of cartographical resources, and to establish cartographical approaches to French history as a trademark theme of the Centre. The University holds major research resources in the form of the 'Turner Collection' of French revolutionary pamphlets, and the Tocqueville collection. Following a lecture at Reading in December 2005, organized by the Centre, the eminent French historian, Emmanuel le Roy Ladurie, agreed to be the Centre's honorary president. Prof Atkin is a specialist on Modern France. His books include The French at War, 1934-1944 (Longman, 2001), The Forgotten French. Exiles in the British Isles, 1940-1944 (Manchester UP, 2003) and The Fifth French Republic (Palgrave, 2004). He is also joint author of Priests, Prelates and People: The History of European Catholicism since 1750 (OUP/I B Tauris,2003) along with Dr Tallett. One of Dr Tallett's principal research interests is warfare in Early Modern Europe. He will shortly be publishing 'Barbarism in War: Soldiers and Civilians in the British Civil Wars, c. 1641-1652', in G. Kassimeris (ed.) The Warrior's Dishonour. Barbarity, Morality and Torture in Modern Warfare (London and US, Ashgate, 2006).

Rural History

History at Reading has a particular strength in the area of English rural history. The members of the department who specialise in this area are Dr Jeremy Burchardt, Prof Richard Hoyle and Dr Margaret Yates. Rural History has an outstanding research facility in the form of the University's Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). MERL has already attracted a number of major grants, including one of £5.17 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It has recently moved to a new £10.5 million building. Dr Burchardt specializes in the modern rural history. He is the author of The allotment movement in rural England 1792–1873 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2002) and Paradise lost? Rural idyll and social change in England 1800–2000 (London: I.B. Tauris, 2002). Prof Hoyle will shortly be publishing an edited collection, Our hunting fathers: field sports in England since 1850. He is also editor of the peer-reviewed journal the Agricultural History Review. In November 2004, Dr Yates succeeded, in partnership with the University's departments of Construction Management and Cybernetics, in winning a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) award to help design and implement a new visitor centre at the Weald and Downland Museum of historic English houses.

Modern History

The Department also has a strong cluster of staff with research interests in the areas of nineteenth and twentieth century social and political American history (Dr Jonathan Bell and Dr Emily West), and of nineteenth and twentieth century British domestic and Imperial History (Dr Philip Murphy, Dr David Stack, Mr Roy Wolfe and Dr Matthew Worley). Dr Bell specialises in twentieth century US political history. He is the author of The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). Dr West works on slavery in the antebellum South. She is author of Chains of love: male and female slaves in Antebellum South Carolina (University of Illinois Press, 2004). As specialists in twentieth century British political history, Dr Murphy and Dr Worley have worked together on two separate externally-funded projects. The first of these was on the records of Britain's constituency level political parties, the second on Oswald Mosley's New Party. Dr Worley is the author of Labour Inside The Gate: A History of the British Labour Party between the Wars (I.B. Tauris, March 2005), and Class Against Class: The Communist Party in Britain between the Wars (I.B.Tauris, 2002). Dr Murphy's research interests lie principally in the areas of British decolonization, and the modern British intelligence community. He is the editor of British Documents on the End of Empire: Central Africa, Parts I & II(London, Stationery Office, 2005). In September 2005, Dr Murphy was co-organiser of a major international conference at the University of Cambridge, 'UDI 40 Years On: Liberation, Confrontation and Co-operation', at which former President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, gave the plenary address. Mr Wolfe maintains an on going interest in the operation and regulation of the UK gambling industry in the twentieth century. Dr Stack works on nineteenth century British history, and maintains a particular interest in the relationship between political and scientific thought. He is the author of The first Darwinian Left (NewClarion Press, 2003) and will shortly be publishing Queen Victoria's skull: George Combe and the social thought of mid-Victorian Britain (London Books).

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