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March 2011

In this issue:

  1. Featured Articles from our journal available for free online download on the Britain and the World website
  2. Karly Kehoe named as the Managing Editor of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society. Gregory Barton named Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
  3. The 2011 British Scholar Annual Conference is just a week away
  4. An Historical Calamity?
  5. Book of the Month- March 2011
  6. Featured Scholar – March 2011

I. Featured Articles from our journal available for free online download on the Britain and the World website

Edinburgh University Press, which recently released Volume IV, Issue 1 of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society, is featuring a number of different articles from the journal.  The entire first issue, September 2008, is available free online by visiting the journal homepage at:

www.eupjournals.com/brw

There you will also find the Featured Article from the newest issue by T. M. Devine entitled ‘Did Slavery make Scotia great?’  You may also link directly to the pdf of the article by visiting:
http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/brw.2011.0004

The following articles from archived issues are also available for free download by following the corresponding links:

Vol. I, Issue 2:  Mark Tauger, ‘The Indian Famine Crises of World War II’
Vol. II, Issue 1:  Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, ‘Securing the Colonies for the Commonwealth: Counterinsurgency, Decolonization, and the Development of British Imperial Strategy in the Postwar Empire’
Vol. II, Issue 2:  Bernard Porter, ‘Architecture and Empire: the case of the ‘Battle of the Styles’, 1855-61′
Vol. III, Issue 1:  Tancred Bradshaw, ‘Arms and Influence: British arms policy and the decline of British influence in the Middle East, 1948-49’
Vol. III, Issue 2:  Adrian Howkins, ‘A Formal End to Informal Imperialism: Environmental Nationalism, Sovereignty Disputes, and the Decline of British Interests in Argentina, 1933-1955’

We hope you will enjoy these articles and we encourage you to submit your articles for publication consideration to our Managing Editor, Karly Kehoe, at:  managingeditoratbritishscholardotorg  (managingeditoratbritishscholardotorg)  

II. Karly Kehoe named as the Managing Editor of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society. Gregory Barton named Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

We are pleased to announce that Karly Kehoe, Lecturer in History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, is the Managing Editor of our journal Britain and the World.  Karly will oversee every aspect in the production of our journal each March and September.  If you are interested in submitting an article for publication consideration, please send it directly to Karly at:

managingeditoratbritishscholardotorg  (managingeditoratbritishscholardotorg)  

Gregory Barton is now the Editor-in-Chief of the journal.  If you would like to contact Gregory about the journal his editorial e-mail address remains editoratbritishscholardotorg  (editoratbritishscholardotorg)  

Please join us in congratulating Karly on being named Managing Editor and Gregory for being named Editor-in-Chief.

III. The 2011 British Scholar Annual Conference is just a week away

The 2011 British Scholar Annual Conference will take place at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin from 31 March to 2 April.  The final conference program is now available by visiting the Conference 2011 webpage at:

www.britishscholar.org/conference2011.html

This year our program features 20 panels and one stand-alone lecture in addition to the Frank M. Turner Memorial Lecture and the Keynote Address.  We also have exciting networking events such as the Conference Icebreaker on Thursday, 31 March, the Dinner Party on Friday, 1 April, and our annual outings around downtown Austin on Saturday night, 2 April.

Peter Clarke will provide the inaugural Frank M. Turner Memorial Lecture on Thursday, 31 March entitled “The English-Speaking Peoples Before Churchill.”  A. G. Hopkins will deliver the Keynote Address, “The United States, 1783-1861: Britain’s Honorary Dominion?”, on Friday, 1 April.  On Saturday, 2 April, Reba Soffer offers us a lecture entitled “Intellectual History, Life, and Fiction.”  We expect these talks to provoke a great deal of discussion and debate.  Between the lectures, panels, and networking events we are confident that this conference offers something of interest for everyone.

If you have not yet registered and would like to attend please contact the President of the Conference Organizing Committee, Michelle Brock, at mikkidotbrockatgmaildotcom  (mikkidotbrockatgmaildotcom)   for further information.  We look forward to seeing you in Austin next week.

IV. An Historical Calamity?

In the following article, David Black, a former Sunday Times journalist and noted conservationist, attacks the architectural plans for the home of one of the world’s most important figures:  Adam Smith.

“The End of Architectural History?  Why do US Economists want to desecrate Adam Smith’s Home?”
by David Black

Spare a thought for Adam Smith, the much revered inventor of modern capitalism. Then spare another for Edinburgh, his home city.  I say this with feeling, as a native of the place, but also with guilt, being one of those who campaigned to have one of our local university business schools take over Panmure House, where Smith wrote his seminal text of political economics, The Wealth of Nations.

First published in 1776, and much reprinted since, Smith’s masterwork has many interpretations, with past admirers ranging from Milton Freidman to Karl Marx, yet somehow it retains its integrity. I fear his old home may not be accorded the same privilege.

Panmure House did not have a good twentieth century. Its interior succumbed to the dead hand of institutional refurbishment in the 1950s, when the architecture of bureaucracy was a kind of anti-architecture, with spartan-plain rooms finished off in pastel gloss paint of mind-numbing hue.
It fared no worse than others, and certainly better than those historic buildings which Edinburgh bulldozed, and lived on as a drop-in centre for local teenagers, while its 17th century exterior remained blissfully unspoilt.

By the twenty-first century Smith’s neighbourhood had been transformed. The main employer, Scottish & Newcastle Brewers, had gone. A Scottish Parliament building took its place, admired not so much for its architecture as for a world-record 1000% budget over-run.  That’s another story, though it had its local effects.  Families moved on, and gentrification followed as politicians and their staffers took over. To no-one’s surprise, Panmure House was closed as the footloose teenagers drifted away, and in early 2008 the council put it on the market.

It was then that I made a fateful move, declaring in our local newspaper that, rather than sell Panmure House to the highest bidder, the council should ensure that it went to an appropriate institution which could perpetuate Adam Smith’s name. The council obligingly complied, and it was sold to the Heriot-Watt University Business School.

Objective achieved? Well so I thought, until I was invited to a preview of the University’s proposals for the building. I was shocked to the core. It should be borne in mind that Panmure House sits at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It should also be noted that in 2008 UNESCO became so exercised by the crass nature of development plans in Edinburgh’s medieval old town that it sent a team in to investigate. There was even a possibility that the city might lose its World Heritage status.

In the circumstances, some sensitivity might have been expected as far as Panmure House was concerned, but that didn’t seem to cut much mustard with new institutional owners who had decided that the best way to ‘restore’ the building was to hide its main facade behind a massive glass box, completely wrecking its historic character.

The rationale seems to be that the building isn’t big enough. The floorplate must increase, so the jewel casket will become a wurlitzer. One wonders, in that case, why they took it on. More worrying, however, is the lobbying exercise which the scheme’s supporters are now engaged in. They have, in effect, called in the US Seventh Cavalry, complete with heavy artillery in the form of Nobel laureates Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, a former associate of Milton Friedman, and Vernon Smith, a senior fellow of the Cato Institute. Further gravitas is provided by Edwin Feulner of the Heritage Foundation, once listed by GQ Magazine as ‘one of the fifty most powerful people in Washington DC’. The idea, I imagine, is that we should be overawed by this surfeit of distinction.

I confess to being overawed by a number of aspects of America, though not so much any of the above. I was pretty overawed last year when I saw James Madison’s lovingly restored Virginia mansion, Montpelier, and truly impressed by the attention to scholarly detail evident in the National Park Service’s reconstruction of Alexander Hamilton’s New York home, the Grange – and these were just the best of a very impressive bunch.

This doesn’t make me an architectural conservative. I’d call Piano’s reconfiguration of New York’s Morgan Library a triumph, much like Foster’s addition to Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, while roofing over the courtyard of Washington DC’s National Portrait Gallery makes perfect sense.

The desecration of Panmure House, however, is something else. And while I somehow doubt Benjamin Franklin’s claim that he helped Smith write his masterpiece, I readily concede that it has a special relevance for America.

To messrs. Becker, Smith, and Feulner, however, I would say this:

Gentlemen, pull down that box!

V. Book of the Month

The Communion of Women by Elizabeth Prevost, serves as the March 2011 British Scholar Book of the Month. We invite you to read the review by clicking on the cover.

VI. Featured Scholar

We are very pleased to announce that Richard White, Professor of History at the University of Sydney, is the Featured Scholar for March 2011. To read his thoughtful answers to our questions, click on his photo to the right.

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