In this issue:
- Article in the Guardian newspaper features first book in the Britain and the World series
- Introducing Preface: The British Scholar Society Documentary Series on YouTube
- The 2011 Conference Wrap-up
- New Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Vimeo page for The British Scholar Society
- 2012 Conference to be held at the University of Edinburgh, 21-23 June
- Book of the Month – April 2011
I. Article in the Guardian newspaper features first book in the Britain and the World series
The first book in the Britain and the World book series, Imperial Endgame: Britain’s Dirty Wars and the End of Empire by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon, was featured in an article in the Guardian newspaper on Sunday evening, 17 April. The article, written by Madeleine Bunting and entitled “The endgames in our empire never quite finished – just look at Bahrain”, uses the argument of Imperial Endgame to call for a reevaluation of the way we view the process of decolonization for Britain’s empire. You may find the article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/17/bahrain-foreign-office-empire.
The Britain and the World book series is published by Palgrave Macmillan on behalf of The British Scholar Society. The series focuses on Britain’s interactions with the world from the seventeenth century to the present. If you have a book manuscript that you are interested in publishing in our series please visit the book series webpage for further instructions at: http://britishscholar.org/publications/book-series/.
II. Introducing Preface: The British Scholar Society Documentary Series on YouTube
Preface is the new documentary series from The British Scholar Society. Preface provides short documentaries on subjects related to Britain’s interactions with the wider world. The first documentary in the series is by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon discussing Britain’s counterinsurgency wars at the end of empire. Other forthcoming documentaries include:
1. Peter Clarke: The English-Speaking Peoples before Churchill
2. Martin Farr: The Labour Party’s Complicity in the Bombing of German Civilians during the Second World War
3. Martin Farr: Margaret Thatcher’s World
You may access the documentaries free of charge at our new YouTube page by visiting www.youtube.com/user/TheBritishScholar. We hope you’ll enjoy the first entry in the Preface series and we encourage you to subscribe to The British Scholar channel on YouTube today to be the first to learn about new documentaries as they become available.
III. The 2011 Conference Wrap-Up
By: Robert Whitaker
The fourth annual British Scholar Conference brought together over 80 participants from 50 different universities and seven different countries to consider the history of Britain’s interactions with the world.
The conference was held at the Harry Ransom Center on The University of Texas (UT) at Austin campus from March 31 through April 2. It featured 20 panels on topics ranging from the Atlantic world to the end of Empire and from Victorian literature to interwar politics. For the second straight year, the conference included three stand-alone lectures along with the plenary panel sessions. Professor A.G. Hopkins, the Walter Prescott Webb Chair of History in the university’s Department of History, gave the keynote address provocatively titled “The United States, 1783-1861: Britain’s Honorary Dominion?” to a packed assembly at the Ransom Center’s Prothro Theater on Friday afternoon.
Considering the historiography of the United States up to the Civil War, Hopkins argued that historians have created a standard account of America’s rise that is “a self-contained and neo-Whiggish story of the spread…of liberty and democracy,” and remains “largely insulated from comparative references and fails to incorporate, systematically, external influences.”
Hopkins suggested historians view the early United States, with reference to the historiography of imperialism, as a newly decolonized country. He argued that this view allows us to see the United States in a wholly new light: not as a confident, independent nation striding into the future, but instead as a wary and diffident country that relied heavily on Britain for leadership in culture, finance, and politics.
Hopkins asserted that from this new viewpoint one can find greater continuity between America as colony and America as independent state. In addition, he sees in the United States of the nineteenth century precursors of the decolonization of the British Empire in the twentieth century.
As Hopkins concluded, his story “is unfamiliar and perhaps unappealing, but it gives the United States a new distinction by placing it at the head of the process of decolonization that was to reach its climax in the second half of the twentieth century.”
Professor Peter Clarke from the University of Cambridge delivered the Frank M. Turner Memorial Lecture on Thursday afternoon.
Clarke traced the origins of the phrase “the English-speaking peoples” and revealed that the concept, commonly associated with Winston Churchill, became a significant term during the nineteenth century. Using the databases of leading British and American newspapers, Clarke showed how the phrase was used both to defend British expansion and later to soften the blow of decolonization.
Professor Reba Soffer, California State University at Northridge, in a Saturday lecture entitled “Intellectual History, Life, and Fiction,” considered the usefulness of fiction for understanding the intellectual history of the British world by studying the life and work of Evelyn Waugh.
Best known for his novel Brideshead Revisited, Waugh “combined dedicated dissipation, travels to very exotic places, uncompromising conservative beliefs, Catholicism, and romantic nostalgia for an imaginary aristocratic past.” Soffer argued that Waugh’s work provides historians with an important record of popular and elite thought during the interwar period because it was inspired by Waugh’s own life.
The characters in his satires represented not only his views of the decay of society, but also portrayed in salacious and scathing detail the lives of his closest friends and worst enemies. For Waugh then, the signs of impending doom were not exclusive to newspaper headlines, but instead could be found in one’s own personal life.
In addition to the panels, conference participants were treated to several outings around Austin, including a happy hour in downtown Austin at Icenhauer’s, a dinner party in the Texas Hill Country, and for the final evening, food and drinks at the famous Driskill Hotel.
The conference organizers concluded the meeting by thanking the participants and sponsors, and announced that the fifth British Scholar Annual Conference will be held in the United Kingdom at the University of Edinburgh from June 21-23, 2012.
The 2011 British Scholar Annual Conference was made possible by generous donations from the following organizations: British Studies Program; Center for European Studies; Department of English; Department of Government; Department of History; Edinburgh University Press; Harry Ransom Center; Institute for Historical Studies; the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professorship; Palgrave Macmillan; Piatra Inc.; and the Graduate School.
IV. New Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Vimeo page
The British Scholar Society is launching headfirst into the social media revolution. First, we have established a Facebook page, which will carry information of interest on all our activities. We invite you to come to our page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-British-Scholar-Society/166699463379093. Don’t forget to click that you “Like” the Society page. We also have a new account on Twitter, which will allow us to get breaking news about the Society to you immediately. Please visit our Twitter page at http://twitter.com/britishscholar where you can sign up to follow our releases as soon as we make them public. Finally, the Society now utilizes a Vimeo page that was established for us to post longer videos such as Keynote Addresses and talks from our Lecture Series. The first video uploaded to Vimeo is Professor T. M. Devine’s Keynote Address at the 2010 British Scholar Annual Conference. You may find the video by visiting the 2010 Conference webpage at: http://britishscholar.org/conference/conference-2010/.
V. 2012 Conference to be held at the University of Edinburgh, 21-23 June 2012
At the recently completed 2011 British Scholar Annual Conference it was announced that the 2012 Conference will take place at the University of Edinburgh from 21-23 June. We are greatly looking forward to a stimulating conference in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We are already planning an historical pub crawl through Edinburgh to go along with other stalwart activities of the Conference such as the Dinner Party on Friday evening, 22 June. There will be further notices in the weeks and months ahead about the 2012 Conference, but please reserve the dates to join us in the fantastic capital city of Edinburgh during the longest days of the year.
VI. Book of the Month
Big Ben: The Great Clock and the Bells at the Palace of Westminster by Chris McKay serves as the April 2011 British Scholar Book of the Month. We invite you to read the review by clicking on the cover.