Culture

The definitions of what is culture may change but the practice of understanding, and unpicking cultural history is an important dimension to understanding any historical period. In this section articles explore the way that definitions of culture have changed and how those changes have affected values and attitudes.  The impact of the written word on fashions and ideas and the role of historic movements such as the renaissance are all addressed in this section.

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  • A (non-Western) history of versatility

    Article

    Waqās Ahmed broadens our perspective on where in history we might find polymaths, those who embody versatility of thought and action. While Western scholars might identify the likes of Leonardo da Vinci or Benjamin Franklin as the archetype of the polymath, they have in reality existed throughout history and across...

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  • A European dimension to local history

    Article

    Trevor James raises the prospect of broadening our approaches to local history to take a wider European perspective. When Professor W. G. Hoskins published his The Making of the English Landscape in 1955, he taught us how to observe and understand the topography of our landscapes, urban and rural, and...

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  • A tale of two statues

    Article

    Dave Martin relates how the statue of one of our imperial ‘heroes’ prompted a campaign to have it taken down while the statue of another imperial ‘hero’ prompted a fund-raising campaign for its repair. As the tide of Empire ebbed across the globe vestiges of British rule remained, some great,...

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  • Ancient Athenian inscriptions in public and private UK collections

    Article

    Peter Liddel introduces us to a rich source of historical information and encourages us to make some purposeful visits to museums. From the seventeenth to the mid nineteenth century, travellers from the UK explored the Mediterranean lands of ancient civilisations in search of trophies that demonstrated the achievements of the classical world. Highly...

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  • Anglo-Saxon women and power

    Article

    Elite Anglo-Saxon women played a powerful role in the religious affairs and politics of their day and were important patrons of learning and culture.

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  • Architecture within the reach of all

    Article

    Roisin Inglesby introduces us to the life and work of a lesser known member of the Arts and Crafts movement, Arthur Heygate  Mackmurdo, who helped to change the face of European architecture and interior design. Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (1851–1942) may not be a household name, but he is arguably one of the most significant figures in British design...

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  • Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy

    Article

    Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy, Nick Holland, Pen and Sword History, 2018, 160p, £12-99. ISBN 9781526722232. Nick Holland offers a very constructive and helpful introduction to the life and achievements of Elizabeth Branwell, ‘Aunt Branwell’ to the four Brontë children who survived into adulthood.  He is already a biographer...

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  • Blurred Lines: the ever-decreasing distinction between fiction and nonfiction

    Article

    Everyone who studies history would love to visit the past. Few of us would like to stay for long, I suspect – if unfamiliar viruses did not finish us off within days, the superstitious locals might – but a visit would be nice. The ability to do so would settle a...

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  • Britain and Brittany: contact, myth and history in the early Middle Ages

    Article

    Fiona Edmonds evidences the enduring links between Brittany and Britain throughout the early Middle Ages. Every year many thousands of British holidaymakers travel to Brittany in search of beaches, bisque and bonhomie. As they board the ferry, they may notice that they are travelling from one Bretagne to another. The names...

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  • Cartoons and the historian

    Article

    Many historical books contain cartoons, but in most cases these are little more than a relief from the text, and do not make any point of substance which is not made elsewhere. Political cartoons should be regarded as much more than that. They are an important historical source which often...

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  • Does historical fiction matter for children?

    Article

    Can you remember a book from when you were young that took you to another place that was fascinating, intriguing and felt real but wasn’t Narnia? Quite often those books were historical fiction; sometimes they were more fiction than history and sometimes vice versa. While the Ladybird histories were some people’s...

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  • Dr Joseph Parry: the story of Wales’ greatest composer

    Article

    Colin Wheldon James introduces us to a 19th-century Welsh composer who deserves far greater recognition for his achievements in Wales as well as in England and America.

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  • Earth in vision: Enviromental Broadcasting

    Article

    Joe Smith, Kim Hammond and George Revill share some of the findings of their work examining what digital broadcast archives are available and which could be made available in future.  The BBC’s archives hold over a million hours of programmes, dating back to the 1930s (radio) and 1940s (television). It...

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  • Elizabeth Jennings: The Inward War

    Article

    Elizabeth Jennings: The Inward War, Dana Greene, Oxford University Press, 2018, 258p, £25-00. ISBN 978-0-19-882084-0. This biography contains much detail on Elizabeth Jennings’ life and poetry. Jennings (1926-2001), born into a Roman Catholic family in Oxford, was often depressed, guilt-ridden, needy and lonely. However, for long periods of her life she...

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  • Fair Seed-Time: Robert Evans, Francis Newdigate and the Making of George Eliot

    Article

    Fair Seed-Time: Robert Evans, Francis Newdigate and the Making of George Eliot, David Paterson, Troubadour, 2019, 306p, £12-00. ISBN 978-1-83859-146-5 ‘Fair seed-time’ is a phrase used by William Wordsworth and echoed in a comment by George Eliot when she wrote ‘these hours were seed to all my after good’. Co-incidental...

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  • Film: How new is Asia’s ‘new era’?

    Article

    The 2021 Medlicott Medal recipient was Professor Rana Mitter, expert on Modern Chinese history and politics. Professor Mitter's Medlicott lecture was on the subject of ‘How New is Asia’s “new era”?’.

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  • Food, history and a sense of place?

    Article

    It ought to be possible to match many of the letters of the alphabet to an English place-name and its particular food-stuff. From Bath Buns to Yorkshire Pudding, this puzzle might go, by way of cakes from Eccles and Pontefract. Can you think of other letters of the alphabet and...

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  • Frans Hals: The Male Portrait

    Article

    Frans Hals: The Male Portrait, Lelia Packer and Ashok Roy, The Wallace Collection, Philip Wilson Publishers, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2021, 130pp., £20. ISBN 978-1-78130-110-4.  The Wallace Collection, bequeathed to the nation in 1897, houses the art collection of the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, widely regarded...

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  • George Eliot and Warwickshire history

    Article

    David Paterson explains how George Eliot’s vivid memory of her childhood in north Warwickshire is revealed through her novels. George Eliot, born 200 years ago this year, is one of our greatest novelists, born and brought up in Warwickshire, a county in which she spent the first 30 years of...

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  • German universities under the Nazis

    Article

    In this article A.D. Harvey draws out the influence that Nazism and Nazi practices had on German universities and their staff. He explores how some university professors were active members of the party while others saw a chance of advancement by becoming conduits of the Nazi ideas. Finally he considers...

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