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Lecture Series



26 November, Newcastle University


Professor Judith M. Brown: Emeritus Beit Professor of Commonwealth History, University of Oxford, and Professorial Fellow of Balliol College

Professor Judith M. Brown

Lecture Synopsis: This lecture focusses on the “transitional generation” who led national movements of opposition to colonial powers and then had to adjust to forming governments and dealing with their colonial inheritance.  Most of the evidence is taken from the experience of 20th century Indian political leaders such as Gandhi and Nehru as British rule ended: but the themes it explores are equally relevant to more recent events such as the ending of white rule in South Africa or the dilemmas of those who ave toppled dictatorships in the “Arab Spring”.




28 May 2013, Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Grote Gracht 90-92, Turnzaal


Professor Patrick Salmon

Chief Historian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office



Stockwell Poster

8 March 2013, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, Site Saint Charles, Salle des colloques n°2

10:30 – 11:30

Host: Etudes Montpelliéraines du Monde Anglophone (EMMA)

Professor Anthony Stockwell

Emeritus Professor of Modern History, Royal Holloway, University of London


5 February 2013, Newcastle University


You may listen to a recording of this lecture at:

Professor Christopher Andrew

Convenor of Cambridge University Intelligence Seminar and Emeritus Professor of Modern & Contemporary History

Christopher Andrew’s history of MI5, based on exclusive access to its files as official historian, was the 2010 UK best-seller in the ‘politics’ category. He has also written best-selling histories of Russian and US intelligence. His talk, illustrated with declassified photos of intelligence operations, shows how MI5 changed British security, political, imperial and gender history during a century when its first priority changed from counter-espionage to counter-terrorism.


The 2012 Global Britain Lecture:

“Sea power vs land power: the geopolitics of Germany’s defeat in the First World War”

10 May 2012, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

16:00 – 18:00

In association with the Centre for British Studies (

Professor Hew Strachan

MA, PhD, FRSE, FRHistS, Hon D.Univ (Paisley)
Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford

In 1904 Halford Mackinder, in the lecture which established the study of geopolitics in the English-speaking world, divided the world into the heartland, which he also called Eurasia (the land mass which runs from the Atlantic and the Pacific), and the rimlands. He predicted that the latter would diminish in relative importance as the heartland industrialised and in particular as the railway made land mass an asset, rather than an obstacle, to communication.  Russia would be able to tap its manpower and its natural resources, and would become the dominant power of Eurasia, overshadowing the west European powers.

In the 1980s scholars like Paul Kennedy argued that Mackinder’s arguments spelled the end of sea power as a means of exercising geopolitical leverage, a historical process which contributed to the decline of Britain over the course of the 20th century.  But in 2012 the argument looks premature: the majority of the world’s goods are still carried by sea, the United States projects its global reach not least thanks to sea power, and both China and India see the acquisition of navies as vital components of their emerging economic status.

Mackinder’s lecture looks no better as a short-term prediction of his own times.  He confirmed the fears of Russia entertained by the other great powers of Europe before the First World War.  His lecture suggested that the sensible strategy for Germany was rapprochement with Russia, a policy favoured by Falkenhayn, the chief of the Prussian General Staff in 1914-16.  But Germany’s pre-war policy of Weltpolitik took it in a very different direction, recognising that maritime and overseas strength was the future for a rapidly industrialising economy, and that the greater markets lay to the west and south, rather than to the east.  Fritz Fischer was wrong: a German war aims programme built round Mitteleuropa was a second-rank option forced on Germany by the circumstances of the war’s outbreak not as the result of a long-term design.

Britain’s only effective strategy for waging continental war rested on the sea, but this did not prove to be the impediment that Mackinder suggested that it might.  Maritime power proved vital to victory, enabling Britain to be the arsenal and financier of its allies, and also enabling the United States to be a key player in the war’s outcome both before its formal entry and afterwards.

Germany’s geopolitical position was not weak because it was overshadowed by Russia but because it was blockaded by sea.  Its army’s decision to focus on the west more than the east reflected that reality, even if the decision was largely justified in operational terms.  Geopolitics were and are vital to understanding the war’s outcome, but not as Mackinder had anticipated.

Curriculum Vitae

Hew Strachan was born in Edinburgh in 1949, has been Chichele Professor of the History of War and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford since 2002.  He is also Director of the Oxford Programme on the Changing Character of War.  He was a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 1975-78 and 1979-92 (and is now a Life Fellow of the College); Senior Lecturer in War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst 1978-9; and Professor of Modern History at the University of Glasgow 1992-2001.  He is a member of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel and of the Defence Academy Advisory Board, a Trustee of the Imperial War Museum and a Commonwealth War Graves Commissioner.  He has been joint editor of War in History since its establishment in 1994, and in 2010 was asked by the Prime Minister to chair a task force on the implementation of the military covenant.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Short bibliography

European Armies and the Conduct of War(1983)

 The Politics of the British Army(1997)

The First World War: Volume 1: To Arms(2001)

The First World War: a New Illustrated History (2003)

Clausewitz’s On War: a biography (2007)

‘For the Better Management of the Poor: The Welsh Society of Philadelphia and the Relief of Emigrants, 1798-1850’

1 March 2012, University of Wales, Newport, City Campus (Room A16)

6:00 – 8:30 pm

To reserve a spot please visit and click on “Book Your Place Now!”

Dr Richard C. Allen

Reader in Early Modern Cultural History, University of Wales, Newport

This lecture provides a fascinating insight into one of the oldest benevolent societies in America with a history that stretches back to their first meeting on St David’s day in 1729.

Charity, members of the Welsh Society of Philadelphia recognised, began at home but also needed to be dispensed to the ‘remotest parts of the Earth’. This was articulated in the preamble to a constitution they drew up on 4 February 1799. It stated that newly arrived emigrants should be taken by the hand ‘instructing him in what he is ignorant of and providing for his Immediate necessities’. Sixty-four Welshmen (or the descendants of Welsh emigrants) held the first meeting of the Society a year earlier on 1 March 1798 in Philadelphia. As part of its remit, members were expected to provide moral support, financial assistance and practical relief for Welsh exiles who would struggle in a foreign land without help. It is a Society which has enjoyed an uninterrupted history to the present day and, naturally, a long-lasting association with Welsh-Americana, particularly its promotion of Welsh cultural activities and its annual St David’s day celebration.

The purpose of this paper is not, however, to record the complete history of this Philadelphian Welsh Society, but rather it will focus primarily on the development of this cultural body, its early membership and the significant position and experiences of members in Philadelphia – the spiritual home of the Welsh exile in America. Additionally, it will explore why this Society appealed to Welsh exiles and their wealthy descendants. Finally, it will consider the role of the Society as a provider of charitable assistance to the needy, who from the late-eighteenth century onwards saw America, especially Philadelphia, as an alternative to a life of hardship in Wales.

6pm – 6:30pm – Refreshments
6:30pm – 8:30pm – Plenary lecture by Dr. Richard C. Allen & Questions


“Opera, passion and tragedy in Georgian Britain: the curious history of the castrato and his wife”
Dr. Helen Berry, Newcastle University

6 December – Newcastle University:  Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building

17:30 – 18:30

When Giusto Ferdinando Tenducci, castrato and celebrity, eloped with his teenage pupil, the tale of their scandalous marriage gripped Georgian society, as did the tragedy of where it all began: the castration of a boy in a remote hill town in Tuscany. Tenducci’s story throws light on eighteenth-century society: its artistic elite; its opera (both Mozart and Bach wrote for Tenducci); and the meaning of sex and marriage.

This is a joint presentation of The British Scholar Society and Newcastle University’s INSIGHTS Public Lectures programme.


“How did the Anglo-American Relationship become essential?”
Professor Kathleen Burk, University College London

6 July – King’s College London: The Old Anatomy Theatre


Professor Kathleen Burk of University College London will provide the second installment of The British Scholar Society’s Lecture Series at King’s College London on 6 July 2011.  The lecture will occur in the newly refurbished Old Anatomy Theatre in the King’s Building of KCL’s Strand Campus.  This is a spectacular venue to host our distinguished speaker as The British Scholar Society holds its first official event in London.  A short abstract about the talk is forthcoming.  Please mark your calendars for the evening of 6 July 2011.

To register for this event please send an e-mail to Dr. Virginia Preston at VirginiadotPrestonatkcldotacdotuk  (VirginiadotPrestonatkcldotacdotuk)  .  Space is limited so please do not hesitate to reserve your spot today.


“Diasporic Imaginings: Twentieth-century Scottish Culture in an International Context”
Dr. Catriona MacDonald, Glasgow Caledonian University

9 November – University of Edinburgh

The inaugural lecture of The British Scholar Society was delivered by Dr Catriona MacDonald of Glasgow Caledonian University and chaired by Professor T. M. Devine, Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography and Director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Sponsored by The British Scholar Society, the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh and the UHI Centre for History, the event celebrated the launch of The British Scholar Society’s journal, Britain and the World, with Edinburgh University Press.

In her lecture, Macdonald discussed the cultural dynamics associated with Scotland’s influence on the rest of the world in the twentieth century. Firstly, she questioned the extent to which current measures of Scottish cultural influence are appropriate indices for the period since 1900. Although the spread of Burns Clubs, Caledonian Societies and Highland games have typically been used to measure Scottish influence abroad, they actually reflect only a small part of a far more complex interchange of ideas and risk caricaturing Scottish culture. Secondly, she emphasised the limits of addressing Scotland’s role in global contexts by arguing that although the movement of Scots and the products of Scottish industry are relatively easy to measure the movement of ideas is not necessarily as straightforward. In spite of Scottish culture being formed at the interface of native and foreign influences in the twentieth century the concept of diaspora has been problematic because it has tended separate the two. Finally, MacDonald sought to establish the necessity of constructing an alternative concept of diaspora; one that is more in keeping with the age and the complex nature of Scottish identity beyond the Border.

A recording of the lecture is available.
If you are using chrome, you will need to download the mp3 to listen to it.

Photos from the lecture:

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