Sign up for Our Newsletter

March 2015 Newsletter

I. 2015 Conference Dinner Party Tickets Now Available for Purchase

We are pleased to announce that tickets to our 2015 Conference Dinner Party are now available for purchase. Tickets are only $20, buy they must be purchased by Friday, 20 March so we can put in the food order.

The Dinner Party will take place at the Scholz Beer Garten on Friday evening, 3 April from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Founded in 1866, the Scholz Beer Garten is the oldest continuously operated business in Austin, Texas. You may find out more about the venue at or at The dinner will feature famous Texas BBQ, sides, and desserts – all for only $20 per person. Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided, with alcoholic drinks available for purchase.

Again, tickets to this exciting event must be purchased by Friday, 20 March so we can put in the food order. Please use the link on the Conference webpage to purchase tickets:

II. Reminder: Registration for 2015 Conference

We would like to remind those readers who plan on attending the 2015 Britain and the World Conference that conference registration is now open.  In addition to access to all panels and plenary talks, registration includes breakfast, lunch, and tea/coffee breaks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Doubletree Hotel. Please go to the Conference webpage to register:

III. Final Program for 2015 Conference Now Available

The final program for the 2015 Britain and the World Conference has been completed and is now available to view. In it, details can be found on the many exciting panels, roundtables, and plenary lectures that are planned for our annual meeting in Austin, TX on 2-4 April 2015.

In addition, the program also provides information on our planned events, including the Conference Icebreaker on the first evening of the conference (where the British Scholar Cocktail will be available!), as well as on the Dinner Party and opportunities for outings around Austin. We are looking forward to seeing all of the conference participants in a few weeks!

Britain and the World 2015 Final Conference Program

IV. Information on Allotted Speaking Time for 2015 Conference

The 2015 Conference Organizing Committee would like to respond to queries from our conference participants regarding the allotted time for each panel presenter. Presenters at this year’s conference are each allotted 20 minutes, with each panel’s chair in charge of keeping time.

Presenters are strongly encouraged to make sure their presentations can be concluded in 20 minutes, so their fellow panelists have the same opportunity to speak and so there is ample time for the audience to ask questions after all the panelists have presented.

V. New Issue of Britain and the World Journal Now Available

The new issue of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society is now available both in print and online. This edition is particularly rich in breadth and depth, with four articles, fifteen book reviews,  a roundtable on the effect of air campaigns on British and German society during World War II, and a new entry in the Witness to History series. Members can access the issue at the following link:

VI. 2015 Membership Renewal

We would like to invite our readers to renew their memberships in the Society (or sign up for the first time). Basic-level membership in the Society is renewed annually and includes the following benefits:

  • *Two issues of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society
  • *A discounted British Scholar Annual Conference registration rate
  • *Access to Britain and the World on our Edinburgh University Press webpage
  • *20% off all history titles from Palgrave Macmillan
  • *20% off all history titles from Cambridge University Press
  • *20% off all books published by Edinburgh University Press
  • *10% off all Edinburgh University Press journal subscriptions

The Society also offers a Life Membership for one-time donations of $1000 or more.  In addition to the annual membership benefits, Life Membership includes:

  • *A subscription to Britain and the World for life, with no need to renew
  • *Full online access to Britain and the World for life
  • *Your name will be featured in the Register of Life Members, found in each issue of Britain and the World and on The British Scholar Society website

Go to for more details on how to sign up for either level of membership in The British Scholar Society.

VII. CFP: “Celebrating Albion” Conference

The British Scholar Society would like to call readers’ attention to the following Call for Papers for what sounds like a fascinating event:

“Celebrating Albion” Conference

Saturday, September 26, 2015, at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.

A one-day conference for historians of Britain and Ireland, marking 10 years since the final issue of ALBION, the prestigious and influential journal of British Studies that was based in the History Department at Appalachian State University from 1973 to 2005. The event will include an address by the former editor of the journal, Dr. Michael Moore.

Proposals are invited for papers (15-20 minutes) that either
•       discuss ALBION’s importance and contribution; or
•       represent new research in the fields covered by the journal—British and Irish History.
It is envisaged that the conference will include sessions in both these areas.

Please email proposals (paper title and brief abstract) to turnermjatappstatedotedu  (turnermjatappstatedotedu)   (or post to Dr. Michael Turner, History Department, Anne Belk Hall, Appalachian State University, ASU Box 32072, Boone, NC 28608). Deadline: Friday, March 27, 2015.
A running order of speakers and sessions will be finalized and circulated in April.
If you would like to attend the conference but not present a paper, please notify Dr. Turner.

Conference fee $30.00 (checks made out to ASU please—send to Dr. Turner).
Refreshment breaks, lunch, and dinner to be provided courtesy of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of History, and Belk Library, Appalachian State University.
Participants should make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation.

VIII. Book of the Month

March 2015: Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960

Katie Pickles, University of Canterbury



Posted in News, Newsletter | Comments closed

March 2015: Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960

Reviewed by: Katie Pickles, University of Canterbury

Charlotte Macdonald, Wellington, Bridget Williams Books Limited, 2011. 240. pp. NZ$ 49.99 (paperback).

Health and fitness are at the heart of the history of the British world. Strong, Beautiful and Modern ambitiously focuses on the national fitness movement in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, exploring the connections, similarities and differences between these places. While it looks back to the beginning of the twentieth century, and also offers glimpses of what happened at the end of the century, the focus is on a distinct historical mid-century moment, where a focus on the body and national prowess were sharply and deliberately defined.

The unifying history for this book that would be missed by studying each nation in isolation is that between 1937 and 1943 Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada all passed legislation to encourage physical fitness beyond the school years. It was popularly called ‘national fitness’ and ‘physical welfare’.

It is Macdonald’s intention to firmly situate her study within a British world framework. Indeed, she argues that the national fitness movements were ‘part of a connected whole, one that can be fully understood only by reference to its empire-wide frame’ (p. 20).

Macdonald clearly and effectively explores the construction of national fitness, using the group of transnational legislative acts as her scaffolding. This structure allows her to feed in a wide variety of historical material, and to reveal much about the history of sport, leisure and fitness in the 1930s and 1940s.

Chapter five offers the breathing space to broadly analyse ‘Healthy Bodies, States and Modernity’. It is an excellent and substantial chapter where the issues canvassed in the preceeding chapters are brought together and analysed.

The first four substantial chapters of the book focus on the principal characteristics of the national fitness campaigns in each of the nations where they were introduced. With keeping up with Europe as an incentive, England and Scotland were first with the first Physical Training and Recreation Act (1937). Throughout the book, Macdonald balances the ideology with the pragmatic financial side of national fitness, exploring where funding for the programmes came from.

While the first four chapters are split by nation, comparisons between nations are offered throughout. For example, at the end of the New Zealand chapter the presence of a strong masculine culture in the country’s sport is tantalizingly suggested. In the Australian chapter, eugenics and the perceived perils of urbanization loom large. The Canadian chapter views national fitness as defending local culture from American influences. It relies heavily on the ‘Pro-Rec’ (Provincial Recreation) Movement. The work of Jan Eisenhardt features in this chapter. An example of the tentative and controversial associations of national fitness, he suffered persecution in the Cold War climate. Chapters maintain a focus on the prominent men in the movement in each country, such as Gordon Young in Australia.

Indicative of the challenge of writing transnational history, investigation of the development of national fitness in each included nation would have been enough to examine. An immense amount of research has gone into this deep and thoughtful book. Macdonald has visited archives in the three countries. She draws on legislation, films and audio and books and articles from the time. Her secondary sources are likewise extensive and the footnotes are helpfully expansive.

There are useful illustrations throughout the book that serve to emphasise Macdonald’s argument that national fitness as national ideology was largely dropped as a state strategy due to its association with similar methods in Nazi Germany. With hindsight, the posters and images of national fitness are largely staged and come across as haunting propaganda. Images of the Berlin Olympics appear hauntingly throughout the book.

It is Macdonald’s longstanding expertise in feminist history that enables her to make a sophisticated contribution to scholarship. Gender analysis is hardwired into and mainstreamed throughout the book. For example, in England, the Women’s League of Health and Beauty with Mollie Bagot Stack at its head was important. Macdonald argues that a feature of the modern moment was a focus on both boys and girls.

Macdonald is fascinated by how the personal was political, arguing that ‘To be strong, beautiful and modern became a personal as well as a collective endeavour’ (p. 10). That endeavor had much to do with notions of imperial unity that had been fermenting since at least the beginning of the twentieth century. Indeed, there are echoes of muscular Christianity, voluntarism, environmental determinism, the advance of indigenous peoples and eugenics throughout the national fitness programmes. What situates the study in the 1930s and 1940s is the modern moment and the state’s desire and ability for mass exercise as never before. For example, the broadcast of fitness exercises on the radio represent ‘a convergence in the history of states, bodies and modernity’ (p. 10).

Strong, Beautiful and Modern is a fine example of writing the history of the British world. It is thoughtful, complex and resists celebrating the national fitness movement. It also resists dogmatic treatment of a British world in favour of a deep and broad transnational view of the past. Meanwhile, it subtly leaves readers to ponder the importance of personal and national fitness right up to the present day.




Posted in Book of the Month, News | Comments closed

February 2015 Newsletter

I. Registration Now Open for 2015 Britain and the World Conference

The British Scholar Society is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the 2015 Britain and the World Conference, to be held in Austin, TX on 2-4 April 2015. The registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and tea/coffee breaks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Doubletree Hotel, as well as participation in a variety of other plenary social events. Conference participants can register at the following link:

II. Draft Program for Conference Now Available

We would also like to inform our readers that the draft program for the 2015 Britain and the World Conference is now available. Please go to the following link to peruse the many and varied panels that will be featured at this year’s conference.

Check the conference website often (, as we will continue to post updates to the program as they become available.

III. Reminder: Rooms Available at Conference Hotel

We would like to remind our conference participants to book their rooms in the conference hotel before the booking deadline of 6 March 2015. We have a limited number of rooms blocked off for the conference, so please do not wait until the last minute to book.

IV. British Scholar Society Associate Editor on the Anglo-German Relationship

British Scholar Society Associate Editor Dr. Helene von Bismarck has published a thoughtful piece on memory and the Anglo-German relationship with regard to the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Dr. von Bismarck’s insights into this important issue can be read at the following link:

V. Call for Contributors to Volume on Early Modern Queenship, Empire, Trade, and Piracy

Early modern era specialists are invited to submit chapter proposals to an excited planned volume titled Queenship, Colonization, Piracy, and Trade during the Early Modern Period (1500-1800). Editors Estelle Paranque and Nate Probasco request that interested parties submit chapter proposals of 400-500 words and a short biography, including research interests and not exceeding 250 words, to queenshipcolonypiracytradeatgmaildotcom  (queenshipcolonespionacyatgmaildotcom)   by 1 July 2015. Accepted authors will be notified by 1 October 2015 and first drafts will be due 1 July 2016. Completed essays will be in the 6000-8000 word range. For more information on the project, please visit the following link:

VI. CFP for Conference at University of Liverpool on “Impassioned Britain”

The University of Liverpool will host a conference on the theme of “impassioned Britain,” bringing together scholars whose interests lie in familial and divine feelings in art, history, and literature. Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted by 15 March 2015 to ensure consideration. Check the Embodiments Research Group website (under the heading for “Impassioned Britain: Familial and Divine Depictions of Feeling, 1707 – 1907”) for more information and for updates:

VII. Book of the Month

‘Orientalist Jones’: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist, 1746-1794

Reviewed by Filomena Viviana Tagliaferri



Posted in News, Newsletter | Comments closed

February 2015: ‘Orientalist Jones’: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist, 1746-1794

Reviewed by: Filomena Viviana Tagliaferri

Michael J. Franklin, Oxford University Press, 2011. 408 pp. £35 (hardback).

‘Orientalist’ Jones is only one of the numerous appellations that are given to Sir William Jones by Michael J. Franklin in his book ‘Orientalist Jones': Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist, 1746-1794 (Oxford, 2011). The work develops a deep and complex discourse of one of the most eminent figures of English Enlightenment. These aspects emerge in each chapter by focusing on the principal epithets the author attributes to his character. ‘Persian’, ‘Druid’, ‘Republican’, ‘Indo-Persian’ ‘Joneses’ are emphasised in the chapter titles, but other adjectives, some truly unexpected, are associated with his name in the body of the text. The multifaceted representation of Jones is a particular strong point. For example, the strongest of these attributes, ‘Incendiary’ Jones, gives the reader as sense of the political vein expressed in his pamphlets.

The book follows a circular pattern. It begins with the journey of Jones and his wife Anna to India and it ends with his death, also on the subcontinent. The central chapters investigate the formation of Jones character, the role of this mother his education, the profound influence of his Welsh origins. The argument then dwells on his career as a lawyer and the network of political/patronage relationships woven by him in London. This section gives depth to the resumption of the figure of the author in his role as Orientalist that dominates the final part of the work. In fact, Franklin tends to dispose all the experiences of Jones in a perspective that emphasize how they have contributed to make him, one of the most eminent thinkers of his time, an unrivalled and pioneering cultural mediator.

Franklin manages to make the figure of Jones not only a bridge between the West and the East, but also as a connection between Enlightenment and Romanticism. The value of the experiment in his approach to the ‘Orient’ is followed by a domestication of it that facilitated Romantic revolution (pp. 73-86). As not only translator but also as man, his experience is put in parallel with one of the first and greatest European Orientalists, Antoine Gallaland. Following his example, he also aligned himself with to ‘popular Orientalism’, undertaking a ‘translation of the Asian “Other” [that] involved delicate politico-cultural negotiations with the European “Self’’’ (p. 85).

The barrister training on the Carmarthen circuit a not only highlights the frank impatience of Jones for aristocratic arrogance, but also ‘to come to terms with his own hybridity’ (p. 118). Once he discovered the Welsh ‘Otherness’ of himself, his flexibility with regard to cultural mediation was highly facilitated. In dealing with the patronage system and the poetic of liberty of Jones we find constantly emphasized his inability to stomach aristocratic presumption. He proudly stated ‘I acknowledge no man as my superior, who is not so in virtue or knowledge, and if this be pride, I am not free from it’ (p. 151). Despite his ‘pride’, due to the complexities of his social, professional, and political role, he was forced to be involved in a constant negotiation with a very intricate network of patronage. London’s environment is analysed through the lens of a realistic intellectual who was not provided with an inherited fortune, a dependant position that made him diplomatic but never servile.

The analysis of Jones’s role of cultural mediator is the best executed and the most interesting and relevant of the book. The mediation process passed through Jones’s active commitment in the theoretical field of Indology as founder of the Asiatick Society, in 1784, and his literary work in the translation of Kālidāsa’s Śakuntalā. The most significant aspect of the members of the Society was they were ‘not ivory-towered academics lingering in the remotely textualised India, but eminently practical men for whom the subcontinent was very much a dynamic reality’ (p. 216). The role and pride of the real experience of another world can be traced also in the rendering of Sacontalà’s character. She was India, the India experienced and elaborated by Jones as man, poet and linguist and presented by him to imperial Europe, ready to be fascinated by the allegory of the colonized land as female body (p. 256).

The two final chapters are mainly centred on the ability of Jones to live and understand a plural context, as the Indian one was. His estimate of the traditional medicine system and of the Hindus indigenous system of jurisprudence reveal a high esteem of the culture of the colony where he had been assigned. This appreciation reaches very high levels of admiration in the case of Sanskrit. ‘Linguistic’ and ‘learners’ Joneses here found a real passion for ‘so beautiful sister of Latin and Greek’ (p. 37). In only six months, he found the basis of Indo-European comparative grammar and instituting a modern comparative linguistics radically adjusting Europe’s self-understanding, stating the superiority of Sanskrit to Latin and Greek. His predilection for this language was so strong to make him said ‘I will know it perfectly or die in the attempt’ (p. 238).

The analysis presented in this work is very rich and deep. It allows the reader numerous ways to interpret such a multi-dimensioned character; plural in his profession and in his interests. On the other hand, if we have access to different points of view in approaching Jones, the fragmentation of his figure can be a disturbing element in the final re-composition of his personality. Another element that can weigh down the reading is the profusion of information in the chapters dealing with the British environment. The narrative fluidity with which the author exposes his solid erudition can make the reader lost in a maze of irrelevant information. On the whole, however, one should emphasize the elegance and charm of a style that supports a strong and well-structured analysis, depicting one of the most important figures of the British intellectual scene of the eighteenth century.



Posted in Book of the Month, News | Comments closed

Britain and the World 2015 Draft Conference Program Available!

The Draft Conference Program for the 2015 Britain and the World Conference is now available.  You may view it here:

Britain and the World 2015 Draft Conference Program

We are looking forward to fantastic panels, plenaries, roundtables, and camaraderie April 2-4 2015 in Austin, Texas.  We hope to see you there!

For Registration and Hotel information please visit the Conference 2015 webpage at  

Posted in News | Comments closed

Moving Forward Looking Back: Anniversaries, Remembrance and the Anglo-German Relationship in 2014

Helene von BismarckDr. Helene von Bismarck, Associate Editor

Both in Britain and in Germany, 2014 was a period when looking back was very much on top of the agenda. The list of historical events that were commemorated – some of them with joy, others with great solemnity – is as long as it is impressive: the 300th jubilee of the accession to the British throne by the House of Hanover, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings in Normandy and the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago. What these anniversaries have in common is that they concern both Britons and Germans, because they raise awareness of important landmarks in the histories of both countries and point to the extent these histories have met and influenced one another. Even the last item on the list, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was – at least indirectly – also a milestone of British history, because it symbolized the end of the Cold War, as well as the unification of a strengthened middle power at the centre of Europe, two issues that have been of great consequence to Britain.

There are two reasons why it is worthwhile to take a closer look at how these important historical events have been celebrated and remembered in Britain and Germany, respectively, during the past year: it helps assess the long-term consequences that these landmarks of Anglo-German history have had, and it tells us a lot about the present rapport between the two countries. What should concern us is not only whether new breakthroughs in academic scholarship have been achieved in 2014, but how the Hanoverian accession, the First and the Second World War and the end of the Cold War have been discussed in the public sphere. As all professional historians know, even though they may not like to think about it, their perception of these events, no matter how accurate it may be, does not automatically resonate within society at large, because the impact of academic publications often remains limited to a very small circle. A year of anniversaries like 2014 is a useful reminder that the impact of past events on the present day manifests itself in more than one way: through the individual experience of memory, through the cultural and political act of public remembrance and through the intellectual endeavour of scholars, who try to make history intelligible with the help of sources and (ideally) a sound methodology. It is through the culture of remembrance and the public debate about the past in Britain and Germany that deep-seated and widespread mutual perceptions are made visible. The cluster of anniversaries in 2014 can thus be regarded as a mirror reflecting the current state of the Anglo-German relationship beyond the arena of high politics.

On the British side, 2014 was a year witnessing sincere and far-reaching efforts to learn more about Germany’s history and culture and to make this knowledge available to the public at large. The tricentenary of the coronation in London of the first Hanoverian king, George I, was not only commemorated with a splendid service at St-Martin-in-the-Fields in the presence of the Duke of Kent and the German ambassador, it also occasioned the organisation of a number of exhibitions, lectures and concerts dealing with the Georgian age.[i] While each of these events had a different focus, two general trends in the presentation of the comparatively little known 123-year Hanoverian period of British history became apparent: the attempt to underline the relevance to Britain’s road to modernity of the Georgian age, with its important innovations in the arts, design, music and science, and the readiness to paint a more positive picture of the Georgian kings, who had for a long time suffered from a largely negative reputation summed up in the rather brutal yet popular description as ‘the sad, the bad, the mad and the fat’. There was also a new emphasis on the importance of the German origins of the royal family. BBC 4 ran a miniseries on the Georgian age and went as far as far as calling this program ‘The German Kings who made Britain’[ii], while Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of The Queen’s pictures at The Queen’s Gallery, where a major exhibition on this subject was held, claimed that their status as German outsiders enabled the Hanoverian monarchs to act as successful modernizers in Britain.[iii]

Another and even more impressive example of British endeavours to use 2014, the year of anniversaries, as an occasion to understand the German point of view better has been the exhibition ‘Germany: Memories of a Nation’ that is still on view in the British Museum and was visited by Angela Merkel and David Cameron in early January 2015. Together with a lecture series broadcasted on Radio BBC 4 by the British Museum’s director, Neil MacGregor, and a book with the same title, this has been a remarkable attempt to make Germany intelligible to the British public. Exhibition, lecture series and book are not satisfied with presenting an overview of German history, they endeavour to explain the perceptions most Germans have of their own identity and culture. Taking the reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as an intellectual starting point, they try to explain the German point of view by focusing on the memories that the inhabitants of this modern Germany share. Without leaving out the horrible chapters of German history, and the guilt and shame that Germans have to deal with until this day, MacGregor still paints an overwhelmingly generous picture of Germany as a nation where design, philosophy, music, the arts and engineering have flourished over centuries. In the end, what has emerged is so positive a portrayal of Germany that quite a few German historians and intellectuals would probably feel uncomfortable with it. MacGregor’s professed aim has been to show that there is much more to Germany than the two world wars, on which school syllabi and public debate have been focused in Britain for decades. That the British Museum, arguably one of the most important and influential museums not only in Britain, but the world, presented such an exhibition in the year of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is nothing short of astonishing. It is an important sign that British perceptions of Germany have significantly shifted since the Berlin Wall came down, a time when Britain’s Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, had still been very much afraid of the German ‘national character’.

On the German side, the anniversaries of 2014 have not occasioned a comparable surge of interest in, and empathy with, Britain. Only the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian accession has led to an outpouring of new scholarship as well as a number of commemorating events, most importantly the grand exhibition organized by the Land Niedersachsen, ‘The Hanoverians on Britain’s Throne’.[iv] A number of British scholars contributed to the organisation of this show, which displayed a substantial number of exhibits on loan from the Royal Collection. The other 2014 anniversaries, while publically and solemnly commemorated, have not led to visible new enquiries into the Anglo-German relationship. This is due to the fact that both world wars are primarily regarded by the majority of Germans as tragic and horrible landmarks in the history of their nation and Europe as a whole, but are not so much analyzed through the Anglo-German lens. Still, what is interesting is that the public debate about the First World War, a debate that reached a whole new level of intensity in 2014, was largely dominated by the controversy about a book by the Cambridge historian Christopher Clark, called ‘The Sleepwalkers’, in which he takes a multilateral approach in his quest for the reasons for the outbreak of war in 1914.[v] His argument, which absolves Germany from the charge of unique or even main responsibility, has not by any means remained undisputed by other scholars, but his views have still had an outstanding effect on the public debate about the First World War. Apart from selling an impressive number of books, Clark filled lecture halls all over the country, was courted by the media and even invited to host a show on the national television channel ZDF (the German version of BBC 2) called ‘Die Deutschland-Saga’, in which he pretty much explained their own country to the German populace. Clark may be of Australian, not of British origin, but he has worked in Britain since he was a graduate student. His success in Germany and the fact that the wider public is so interested in the perception of their country by a historian who is in many ways a product of Britain’s academic system, can be interpreted as a signalling a certain degree of open-mindedness and respect for British scholars on the German side that makes one hopeful for further intellectual and cultural exchange between the two countries in the future.

2015 can be expected to be a year when Britain’s role in the world will be under constant debate and may be shaped in significant ways. The outcome of the upcoming general elections will in all likelihood have a far-reaching effect on Britain’s relationship with the European Union, given David Cameron’s promise that he will renegotiate the terms of British membership and organize an in-or-out-referendum if he is re-elected. It is of course up to the British to decide whether or not their fate lies with the continent. However, in view of Germany’s strong position within the EU, the Anglo-German relationship may have a role to play in the shaping of that fate. Currently, it does not look as if the British and German governments will look eye-to-eye with regard to European integration. However, before we move into 2015 in a state of gloom about the differences between the two countries, it may be worth keeping in mind that the past year of remembrance has shown remarkable attempts, especially on the British side, to promote interest and understanding in one another. It may be the job of governments to decide which role they wish their country to play in international affairs, but this does not alter the fact that there is much more to a country’s place in the world, and its rapport with other nations, than the current state of its foreign policy.

[i] A list of these events can be found at



[iv] The exhibition is now closed but there is an excellent catalogue accompanying it that remains available: Katja Lembke (ed.), Als die Royals aus Hannover kamen. Hannovers Herrscher auf Englands Thron 1914-1837 (Sandstein Verlag 2014).

[v] Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers. How Europe Went to War in 1914 (Allen Lane, London 2013).

Posted in News | Comments closed

January 2015 Newsletter

I. New Chair of Advisory Board

The British Scholar Society is delighted to announce that Professor Linda Colley has been named as the new Chair of our Advisory Board. Serving as the Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University, Dr. Colley is a world-renowned historian of Britain whose many works are, without a doubt, intimately familiar to scholars in every area of British Studies. Dr. Colley will serve a term of five years as the Advisory Board Chair, and we are excited for what this new connection will bring in the coming years. More information on Dr. Colley’s work and accomplishments can be found at the following link:

II. Plenary Speakers Announced for Annual Conference

Two speakers for plenary talks at the 2015 Britain and the World Conference have been announced. Along with our keynote lecture, delivered by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer of Trinity College Dublin, Professors Anna Clark and Patrick Salmon will also deliver lectures on topics pertinent to scholars of British Studies. Dr. Clark, who serves as Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, will give the Britain and the World Lecture, in which she will discuss the past and future of British Studies, especially in light of the “global turn” in our and other fields of inquiry. An article version of lecture will also appear in our journal, Britain and the World. Dr. Salmon, Chief Historian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), will give the Frank Turner Memorial Lecture. We are looking forward to the insights he will provide, both as a scholar and in the context of his role at the FCO. More information on Dr. Clark and Dr. Salmon can be found at the following links:

III. Reminder: Conference Hotel Booking Available

The Society would like to remind its participants in the 2015 Britain and the World Conference that you may now book your room at our conference hotel, the Hilton Doubletree University Area.  The room block is available until 6 March 2015 and rooms are limited, so please do not wait to book.  You may purchase your room at the following link:

IV. Society Editors on Witches, Angels, and Demons in Video Games

As announced in a previous edition of the Newsletter, Assistant General Editor Robert Whitaker has undertaken a fascinating project that investigates the relationship between history and video games. His work has been featured both in the form of online articles and in interviews with historians whose work is related to particular video games. A new episode of Dr. Whitaker’s web series, History Respawned, features an interview with Assistant General Editor Michelle Brock on the historical depiction of witches, angels, and demons in the context of the game Diablo III. Dr. Brock’s and Dr. Whitaker’s conversation is available at the following link:

V. Announcement from Newsletter Editor Leslie Rogne Schumacher for our Subscribers

It gives me great pleasure to announce that there are now more than 1000 subscribers to the British Scholar Newsletter. Not only does this number represent both past and anticipated participants in our annual conferences, but also the work of all of our members, editors, Board of Directors and Advisory Board members, and affiliates at Edinburgh University Press and Palgrave Macmillan in spreading the word of the work that The British Scholar Society is doing. This is also an indication of a new and growing energy and excitement that I think we all sense in the field of British Studies more broadly. In the coming months, I will begin to roll out a number of new regular and occasional features in the Newsletter, and I hope to see our subscriber numbers grow to even greater heights.  Thank you for reading my words, and please never hesitate to contact me with events, announcements, comments, and suggestions (lesliedotschumacheratgmaildotcom).

VI. Workshop on Empire, Slavery, and Economics at the University of Nottingham

A one-day workshop titled “The Economies of End of Empire” will take place on 28 January 2015 at the University of Nottingham. The workshop will feature several talks on slavery, abolition, and the British Empire. Admittance is free but participants should register by noon on 19 January 2015. More information can be found at the following link:

VII. British Association for Canadian Studies CFP

The British Association for Canadian Studies (BACS) will hold its annual conference in London on 23-25 April 2015. Individual and panel submissions are both welcome, and the deadline for submission is 30 January 2015. More information can be found at the following link:

VIII. Book of the Month

John E. Crowley, Imperial Landscapes: Britain’s Global Visual Culture, 1745-1820

Reviewed by Douglas Fordham, University of Virgi

Posted in News, Newsletter | Comments closed

January 2015: Imperial Landscapes: Britain’s Global Visual Culture, 1745-1820

Reviewed by: Douglas Fordham, University of Virgi

John E. Crowley, Yale University Press, 2011. 320pp. US $85 (hardback).

In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, John Crowley argues that “in the second half of the eighteenth century British artists were disproportionately frequent and original in representing their imperial worlds topographically, and that distinctiveness makes their work inherently interesting from a comparative perspective.” (13) Crowley defines topographic representation as “how a place would appear to viewers if they went there themselves” (76) thereby distinguishing it from cartographic and other modes of representation. In the opening chapter Crowley examines the origins of topographic representation in Europe, and he argues for the precedence of British topography, particularly in the works of Paul Sandby, who worked on the Scottish Highland Survey following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46. The book then follows British-born and trained artists around the globe in chapters dedicated to Canada, the Pacific, the West Indies, the United States of America, India, and Australia. By the end of this global Grand Tour the book leaves little doubt that topographic imagery constituted a major component of British visual culture. The book is stunningly illustrated and its geographic divisions provide helpful summaries of the field as well as convenient introductions to British imperial history and its representation. The reasons for Great Britain’s “topographic imperative,” however, remain frustratingly elusive, and Crowley’s thesis raises more questions than it answers. This may not be a bad thing for the fields of imperial history and art history upon which Crowley predominantly draws, but it does suggest just how difficult it can be to unite these disciplines to the satisfaction of specialists in either.

In the opening chapter of the book Crowley tests W.J.T. Mitchell’s oft-quoted claim that landscape “is something like the ‘dreamwork’ of imperialism”. (Mitchell, W.J.T., ed. Landscape and Power, 2nd ed., 2002, p. 10). Crowley challenges Mitchell’s phrase by arguing that landscape was rather “an underused resource for European imperialism” (16) prior to the mid-eighteenth century. This is a decidedly literal reading of Mitchell’s evocative “theses on landscape” and when the book ventures into causal explanations for British art’s topographical imperative it tends to produce a rather blunt variant of Mitchell’s thesis. “The landscape of the new imperial domain congratulated British military accomplishments” in Canada (57), “picturesquely topographic art naturalized the regime of slavery by making it part of the landscape,” (139) and “British landscape art of early British India functioned as self-propaganda for polite society among Britain’s political nation.”(203) Artistic agency and public reception, to say nothing of cultural resistance and political contingency, are held safely at bay in these sweeping generalizations. It is telling, for example, that Crowley’s discussion of “The Anti-Imperial Alternative” in British India refers exclusively to the Warren Hastings trial and associated textual sources.(184) For Crowley, topographic landscape is always imperial and expansionist, a view that is surely correct on balance, but which tends to level interesting distinctions and downplay the openness and instability of visual signification.

While the bourgeoning field of “art and the British empire” has fought to hold open and interrogate the precise relationship of art to empire, Crowley leaves little doubt that empire produced, or at least necessitated, Britain’s topographic imperative. William Blake’s searing retort to conventional wisdom, that “Empire follows Art and not Vice Versa as Englishmen suppose,” is nowhere to be found in Crowley’s narrative. The question of precedence and timing is an important one, because Crowley states in the conclusion that “By the late 1780s artists and patrons in other European visual cultures were emulating the British global landscape.”(227) This suggests a delay of no more than twenty years, since Crowley returns time and again to the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) as a major impetus to British topographical representation. How significant is this delay, and is this predominantly a function of the market-driven London book and print trade, British imperial circumstance, or other factors? Crowley makes a convincing case that publications related to the Cook expeditions, for example, stimulated European emulation in subsequent decades. With a few exceptions, however, Crowley brackets out direct comparisons between British art and the art of Continental Europe to the first and the last chapter. And yet these are some of the most suggestive and provocative claims in the book, and his thesis ultimately rests on the accuracy of those claims. This kind of comparative analysis, and the recognition that the imperial periphery was marked by a hybrid agglomeration of languages and national affiliations, offers significant opportunities for further research.

If Imperial Landscapes tends to homogenize “Britain’s Global Visual Culture,” as the subtitle informs us, it nonetheless does a remarkable job summarizing and rendering coherent a vast body of scholarship that is frequently sequestered in regional and disciplinary silos. As a synthetic narrative work it highlights fault lines within and between the disciplines of art and imperial history. By isolating topographic landscape as a fairly hermetic genre, Crowley manages to unite a broad swath of imagery from around the globe over three-quarters of a century. Those who analyze topographic landscape in relation to other strands of imperial visual culture, most notably ethnographic portraits, costume studies, and graphic satire, might draw very different conclusions. Similarly, the “Britishness” of topographic landscape identifies something fundamental about the art of the eighteenth century, but it should not preclude further study into the alternative identities and colonial assertions of difference that visual representation might yield. Imperial Landscapes suggests just how far the study of imperial representation has advanced in the past decade, and it brings this material together in new and unexpected ways. It marks a major contribution to the field and one that will undoubtedly stimulate further debate.


Posted in Book of the Month, News | Comments closed

November 2014 Newsletter

I. Extension of Deadline: CFP for Annual Conference

The British Scholar Society has extended the deadline of its Call for Papers for our annual conference, which will be held 2-4 April 2015 in Austin, TX. More information on the conference can be found at the following link:

The conference accepts both individual paper and complete panel submissions. Submissions of individual papers should include an abstract of 150-300 words as well as a few descriptive keywords. Panels are expected to consist of three to four papers and should be submitted by one person who is willing to serve as the point of contact. Complete panels must also include a chair. In addition to abstracts for each individual paper, panel submissions should also include a brief 100-150 word introduction describing the panel’s main theme. The conference does not discriminate between panels and individual paper submissions.

All submissions for inclusion in the Britain and the World Conference must be received by Monday, 15 December 2014. Decisions on inclusion will be made by Friday, 29 December 2014. Submissions should be made electronically to editoratbritishscholardotorg. Updates regarding the conference will be periodically posted to the Society website. It is hoped that participants will be able to call upon their departments for hotel and transportation expenses.

II. Extension of Deadline: Call for Participants in Roundtables at Annual Conference

As our general CFP has been extended, we have also decided to extend the Call for Participants for two roundtables that will be featured at our annual conference. We are looking to attract scholars to take part in each roundtable, so please use the links below to read more about the planned topics as well as learn how to register your interest in participating.  The deadline to apply is Monday, 15 December 2014.

Roundtable: Atlantic and Global Perspectives

Roundtable: Britain after the Referendum

III. Additions to “Britain and the World” Book Series

Two new books in The British Scholar Society’s “Britain and the Worldbook series from Palgrave Macmillan are now available.

David A. Johnson’s New Delhi: The Last Imperial City looks at the planning, construction, and development of New Delhi between 1911 and 1931, investigating the ways in which the new city was designed both to accommodate and combat Indian self-determination. More information on Dr Johnson’s book can be found at

Brandon Marsh’s Ramparts of Empire: British Imperialism and India’s Afghan Frontier, 1918-1948 explores the latter era of Imperial Britain’s involvement in the politics and culture of the frontier between North-West India and Afghanistan. One can find out more about Dr Marsh’s fascinating book at

IV. Call for Contributors to Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies

The editors of Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies have announced a Call for Contributors to a future issue of their journal. They are particularly interested in receiving articles concerned with Scotland’s role in the First World War. Interested parties should send any inquiries and/or contributions to wrodneratodudotedu. Submissions should be made by February 2015 for a publication date of late summer 2015.

V. Call for Papers: Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions

The British Scholar Society would like to draw attention to an upcoming conference that may be of interest to its members and newsletter recipients. Below is a description from the conference organizers, including information on how to submit abstracts as well as other relevant details.

International Conference:

Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions


13-16 July 2015, Liverpool, UK

Call for Papers:

Trans-Atlantic dialogues on cultural heritage began as early as the voyages of Leif Ericson and Christopher Columbus and continue through the present day. Each side of the Atlantic offers its own geographical and historical specificities expressed and projected through material and immaterial heritage. However, in geopolitical terms and through everyday mobilities, people, objects and ideas flow backward and forward across the ocean, each shaping the heritage of the other, for better or worse, and each shaping the meanings and values that heritage conveys. Where, and in what ways are these trans-Atlantic heritages connected? Where, and in what ways are they not? What can we learn by reflecting on how the different societies and cultures on each side of the Atlantic Ocean produce, consume, mediate, filter, absorb, resist, and experience the heritage of the other?

This conference is brought to you by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH), University of Birmingham and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy (CHAMP), University of Illinois and offers a venue for exploring three critical interactions in this trans-Atlantic dialogue: heritage, tourism and traditions. North America and Europe fashioned two dominant cultural tropes from their powerful and influential intellectual traditions, which have been enacted in Central/South America and Africa, everywhere implicating indigenous cultures. These tropes are contested and linked through historical engagement and contemporary everyday connections. We ask: How do heritages travel? How is trans-Atlantic tourism shaped by heritage? To what extent have traditions crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic? How have heritage and tourism economies emerged based upon flows of peoples and popular imaginaries?

The goal of the conference is to be simultaneously open-ended and provocative. We welcome papers from academics across a wide range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, art history, architecture, business, communication, ethnology, heritage studies, history, geography, landscape architecture, literary studies, media studies, museum studies, popular culture,  postcolonial studies, sociology, tourism, urban studies, etc. Topics of interest to the conference include, but are not limited to, the following:

The heritage of trans-Atlantic encounters

Travelling intangible heritages

Heritage flows of popular culture

Re-defining heritage beyond the postcolonial

The heritage of Atlantic crossings

World Heritage of the Atlantic periphery

Rooting and routing heritage

Community and Nation on display

Visualising the Trans-Atlantic world

Abstracts of 300 words with full contact details should be sent as soon as possible but no later than 15th December 2014 to ironbridgeatcontactsdotbhamdotacdotuk.

More information can be found at the following link:

Best wishes,

Conference Convenors: Mike Robinson (University of Birmingham) and Helaine Silverman (University of Illinois)

VI. Book of the Month

Damon Ieremia Salesa, Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire

Reviewed by Lachy Paterson, University of Otago

Posted in News, Newsletter | Comments closed

November 2014: Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the British Empire

41GDB9Ka+9LReviewed by: Lachy Paterson, University of Otago

Damon Ieremia Salesa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 308 pp. $US 45 (paperback)

Race has always been an important preoccupation in New Zealand society. In the country’s popular imagination, its past is predicated on national myths that it had the best race relations in the world, and that its Māori citizens were the best treated of all indigenous peoples.   Intermarriage between Māori and the Pākehā settlers, a practice encouraged even prior to formal colonisation, was often given as evidence for such claims. Damon Salesa’s Racial Crossings is an exciting investigation of the theories, discourses and policies that underpinned intermarriage, and the broader colonial project of racial amalgamation.

The volume’s subtitle, Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire, is a little misleading. The book is not a social history of intermarriage: indeed the story concerns itself more with the discourses of racial crossing, than the lives of the actual people doing the crossing. Its focus is on roughly four decades of New Zealand history, one preceding the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and the three following. A reader will find little detail on the policies and practice of intermarriage of colonial India, Canada, Australia or South Africa, or even of New Zealand in the last three decades of Victoria’s reign.   As Salesa notes, power was generally devolved to colonial governors, whose actions and policies were shaped by local conditions.   Although conditions may have been localised, ideas flowed more freely around the Empire. New Zealand’s pertinence to “imperial” studies is that it was colonised when humanitarianism was flourishing. After earlier examples of destructive colonisation, Britain sought to protect New Zealand’s promising “aborigines” through civilisation and amalgamation. Although missionaries, officials both in Britain and New Zealand, intellectuals and settler politicians may have had differing (and sometimes competing) agenda, a general consensus prevailed that intermarriage would benefit both Māori and colonisation.

While nineteenth-century race relations is a well-ploughed field within New Zealand historiography, Racial Crossings brings new insights. In particular, it is prepared to take seriously the racial ideology of New Zealand Company, which saw the country as eminently ideal for systematic British emigration, with its fertile soils, suitable climate and superior natives. The latter were expected to sell their lands cheaply in order to gain civilisation through close proximity with the settlers, and eventually the two races would become one. Although the Company failed in nearly all its aims except bringing the first rush of settlers to five of New Zealand’s six initial “colonies” including women (which lessened the prospect of intermarriage) Salesa argues that its discourses continued well past its dissolution. In many ways, Racial Crossings complements the seminal volume on racial amalgamation, A Show of Justice (1974), in which Alan Ward methodically investigates the incorporation of Māori into the politics and machinery of the state.   Many New Zealand historians lose sight of the imperial network of ideas that informed New Zealand’s colonisation, but Salesa effectively explicates the ideas and ideology behind government actions, and why “race” and racial mixing was so important to amalgamation.   Of particular interest are the fruits of racial mixing, the so-called “half-castes”. Theorists argued over whether the world’s races all evolved from a common source, or sprang up independently in different parts of the globe, and the nature of any progeny that might arise from racial mixing. Would they be sterile or fecund, degenerate or vigorous, the possessors of the perceived defects or strengths of their parents’ make up, and were some mixes better than others?

The prevailing views, that intermarriage was not degenerative and that Māori were promising candidates for civilisation, shaped the nature of New Zealand’s colonisation. In 1840 the new British administration was not in a position to impose amalgamation on Māori who remained effectively politically independent of governmental control. Persuasion, rather than coercion, was the only viable policy in the first two decades, although intermarriage might well aid the government’s gradual appropriation of power. Half-castes were already a feature of contact zones, and although it was initially thought that Māori and Pākehā might merge into a new race, the high rate of immigration saw the possibilities of gradual absorption of Māori into the Pākehā population, with a diminution of Māori power, and their eventual disappearance as a separate race.   As Salesa points out, Victorian sensibilities precluded the extermination of Māori, their extinction by more “tender” means was seen as good for all concerned.   Half-castes are thus central to Racial Crossings, as they were to New Zealand government policy, during both gubernatorial and settler control.   The control of half-castes, and their incorporation into European society and polity was thus a central concern of race policy in New Zealand. Much effort was expended in the attempt to shape half-castes so that they would become a force for colonial progress, and to legislatively draw half-castes away from their Māori kin.   Salesa posits that half-castes, in general, were not successfully absorbed within Pākehā society. Enduring genealogical bonds meant they remained well integrated within Māori communities, and emotional reactions could draw half-castes away from Pākehā life even after years of education and removal. However, he shies away from other factors: for example, while government policy may have promoted racial crossings, white society itself was not always as inclusive in the nineteenth century, particularly of white women marrying brown men, and half-castes may have felt more comfortable and accepted amongst their Māori kin.

Racial Crossings is not an introductory text, and indeed some prior knowledge of New Zealand history, although not obligatory, would benefit readers. What it does very well is engage with the big ideas that underlay racial thinking and discourses in the British Empire, and demonstrate how these informed British colonisation in New Zealand.


Posted in Book of the Month, News | Comments closed