CFP: Representing the British Civil Wars

Call for Papers

Representing the British Civil Wars 1660-2009: Adaptation, Reflection, Transmission, Debate

University of Manchester, 4-6 December, 2009

This conference considers the ways in which the conflict period of the 1640s and 1650s have been manifest in culture, political thought, historiography and popular imagination, from Southey’s Life of Oliver Cromwell to Clarendon, from To Kill a King to the imminent film of Paradise Lost. The conference looks at cultural appropriation and the ways in which particular representational tropes have been developed and perpetuated.

Sessions and panels might consider immediate post-Restoration versions of the conflict, or consider how radical theories of liberty and rights influenced political philosophy during the eighteenth century. Why is the notion of civil dispute still so potent in British culture, and why is the Cavalier/ Roundhead binary so difficult to get rid of? How have the complexities of the conflict been represented? What of the complex and continuing historiography? Which cultural clichés have become associated with the wars of this period? How have writers, dramatists, novelists, poets and filmmakers adapted texts from the time and how have they imagined the period?

Papers might consider the versions of the war found in popular novels, in drama, in film and in poetry, portraiture and song. Of particular interest might be the following: Iain Pears, David Kinloch, Cromwell, Witchfinder General, Great Britons, Tristram Hunt, popular historical writing, The Devil’s Whore, Scott’s Woodstock, Antonia Fraser, documentary series, docudrama, By the Sword Divided, historiographical paradigms (conflict/ contention, civil war/ revolution/ war of three kingdoms), wargames, boardgames, adaptation, bespoke computer game hacks, museums and exhibits.

Please send abstracts (300 words) or panel proposals by April 30 to


The Devil’s Whore review

I’ve done a little review of the above for the New Statesman over here. I found the first episode a bit of a disappointment. Not really fun enough to warrant 1hr 20mins of my time and not really done with enough attention to detail to make it worthwhile as ‘edutainment’.

Over at this blog, there’s an interesting review of Ronan Bennett’s Guardian article inspired by the series. The author also correctly guesses that the perspective of the series will be unrelentingly Anglo-centric.

Glorious Revolution Q & A

Over at Me and My Big Mouth.

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 4:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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Booze Britain

In the wake of recent calls for clampdowns on pub happy hours, here’s some binge-drinking 18thC-style:

‘in this thirsty generation, the honour falls upon him who carries off the greatest quantity of liquor, and knocks down the rest of the company. I was the other day with honest Will Funnell, the West-Saxon, who was reckoning up how much liquor had past through him in the last twenty years of his life, which, according to his computation, amounted to twenty-three hogsheads of October, four ton of port, half a kilderkin of small-beer, nineteen barrels of cyder, and three glasses of champagne; besides which he had assisted at four hundred bowls of punch, not mention sips, drams, and whets without number.’

From the Spectator, quoted in,
J. Hamilton Moore, The Young Gentleman and Lady’s MONITOR and English Teacher’s Assistant (7th edn, London, 1792)

Metric equivalents:

A kilderkin = 82 litres

A hogshead = 286 litres

A water ton = 1017 litres

A barrel = 117 litres

Of course, given his name, ‘Will Funnell’, this 18th C sybarite may have been fictional.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Devil’s Whore

Channel 4’s new, multi-million pound four-parter on the civil war begins on 19 November, featuring Michael Fassbender as Thomas Rainsborough (or Rainborowe), Peter Capaldi as Charles I and John Simm as Edward Sexby (or Sexy).

In a big puff-piece in the Sunday Times one particular comment stood out, taken from the literary blog, Ready, Steady, Book, suggesting that there had only been seven major works of fiction about the civil war.

I can add one to the film list, The Moonraker (1957), a rollicking swashbuckler featuring a youthful George Baker. Certainly better than the execrable To Kill A King. The Spanish auteur responsible for such classics as The Erotic Rights of Frankenstein, Greta the Mad Butcher and Mondo Cannibale, Jess Franco, also produced a  a poor remake of Michael Reeve’s Witchfinder General, The Bloody Judge (1970) (starring Christopher Lee), though this was loosely set in the aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion.

The literature list is a bit thin and reflects an Anglocentric focus: these were British wars after all. What about Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott? Thomas Carlyle’s edition of Cromwell’s letters and speeches?

Anyone else like to chip in?

Published in: on November 9, 2008 at 8:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Glorious Stereo Reading Experiment – they think it’s all over,

It is now!

I will be doing a Q & A on Scott’s blog in the near future, so look out for more Glorious Revolution related fun soon.

The Battle of Preston, 1648, in Lego

Higher production values in this number…if anyone knows of any more lego masterpieces out there, send me a link.

Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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