Thoughts on the IHR Finch Report Colloquium

Here are my belated thoughts on the IHR’s open access colloquium.

There was a great deal of value to this event, not least in the amount of evidence supplied in panel two by CUP and Wiley representatives about the likely impact of shorter embargo periods on Humanities and Socal Science publishing. It was also clear that there was a lot of consensus about the aspects to demand consideration of in the HEFCE consultation process: longer embargo periods (3 year min), exemptions for international publishing, monographs and edited collections and changes to the CC licensing proposals. It’s clear that certain funders (Wellcome) are zealous advocates of OA and that RCUK are backing the general drive towards Gold OA. What needs to be recognised is that only about a fifth of HSS outputs are actually supported by research council funding – the vast majority are paid for by HEIs/general QR funding. Indeed, figures supplied by a JISC study indicated that about 20% of respondents felt that they either paid for their publications themselves or were not financially supported at all in publishing (writing/research needing to be conducted outside of a normal working week or scholars who were unwaged researching/writing). ‘The author pays’ notion sadly already applies for a significant number of historians. The Gold model clearly needs to be fundamentally questioned: it is not a model that reflects either funding realities in HSS or the actual costs of publication in HSS.

I would suggest it is imperative that HSS scholars argue for the rejection of Gold OA as the only ‘sustainable’ route to open access. We need a path to OA that is flexible and recognises the differences between publishing cultures and funding streams in different disciplines. In addition, we need a path to OA that does not prejudice smaller institutions by placing undue financial burdens on them in the form of top-ups to Article Processing Charges (APCs) and institutional repository costs. We also need a path to OA that does not exclude retired, unwaged/part-time or early career staff. If OA is about inclusivity, this needs to be reflected in how it is delivered. Finally, we need a form of OA that does not cut off UK academics from their international colleagues – we should be working with other countries to develop common policies rather than making unilateral decisions that may well harm UK HE.

I would urge colleagues, especially those who have roles as members of learned societies or editors of journals, to take part in the HEFCE consultation process (deadline 25th March). We need to ensure that the form of OA required as part of REF 2020 is such that it meets the laudable goal of disseminating knowledge without harming either the diversity of UK HE and academic publishing or UK HE’s international reputation. Above all, we need some clarity! E-mail here


The 1723 Oaths of Allegiance to George I: An Electronic Finding List

Some news on a new research project of mine. The Marc Fitch Fund have generously awarded me some funding to help develop an electronic, publicly accessible finding list for the returns of the 1723 Oaths of Allegiance to George I.

These oaths were tendered in the wake of the Jacobite Atterbury Plot of 1722. Taken at Midsummer and Michaelmas quarter sessions, oath rolls survive for Devon, East Sussex (Petworth) Essex, Hampshire, London, Norfolk, Worcestershire and the city of York. Returns for Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire have already been published and transcribed.

There was nothing particularly new about the oaths themselves which were based on earlier tests devised under Queen Anne and William and Mary. However, as has been demonstrated by Simon Dixon and the Friends of Devon Archives in their excellent project on the Devon roll, the 1723 returns do have a number of interesting features which set them apart from previous national oaths of loyalty. First, large numbers of women subscribed these oaths (3 in 10 subscribers in Devon were female). Second, some returns, such as those for the cities of Exeter and York, contain considerable detail about the social, marital and economic status (occupation) of subscribers.

The oaths are obviously of value to social, economic and political historians of early modern England and I’ve written elsewhere about their potential value to family historians. However, unlike similar documents such as the 1641 Protestation or the 1696 Association oath rolls there is no equivalent published catalogue of these documents.

The aim of this project is to identify all the surviving English returns for this oath. I know that some family and local history societies have already become interested in the potential of these returns. I’m hoping to use that knowledge and interest to help develop the finding list. The first stage of this project will be to develop a dedicated website for the 1723 oaths which will link to a ‘work-in-progress’ version of the finding list that visitors will be able to comment upon if they have further information. Any useful information given about the oath returns will obviously be acknowledged in the final version of the electronic finding list.

So, watch this space and, in the meantime, do get in touch if you have further info on the 1723 oaths.

Published in: on November 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fully-funded Phd studentships at the University of Roehampton

The University of Roehampton has just advertised 29 Vice-Chancellor’s Research Studentships, (nine fully-funded with twenty fees-only studentships also available.)

Further details are here. Deadline 1st October.

Published in: on July 9, 2012 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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What would have happened if Charles II had been executed in 1651?

Not much, I tell the Guardian.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rights Gone Wrong – BBC2

I contributed to the recent BBC 2 documentary on Human Rights presented by Andrew Neil. You can see my contribution on i-player until 21st March 2012.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tony Benn’s Gerrard Winstanley

(A very belated review of the copy Verso were kind enough to send me!)

Tony Benn introduces Gerrard Winstanley, A Common Treasury (Verso, 2011), paperback £8.99

Verso’s Revolutions series delivers historic revolutionary authors, such as ‘El Libertador’, Simon Bolivar, teamed-up with present-day radicals, (Bolivar’s literary buddy being the socialist President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.) This entry in the series features veteran left-winger Tony Benn introducing Gerrard Winstanley the leader of the seventeenth-century English radical Digger movement. The title of this collection refers to Winstanley’s belief, enacted in the Digger settlements established in 1649 at St.George’s Hill and then Little Heath, Cobham, Surrey, that the land should be a ‘common treasury’  ‘for all, to work together, and eate together (p. 19).’

Most historians of the seventeenth-century will baulk at Benn’s description of the Diggers as the ‘first true socialists’. Many will also be sceptical of Benn’s claim that Winstanley set out to challenge ‘sexist language’ (is this the same Winstanley who wrote that ‘excesse of Feminine society, hinders the pure and naturall Generation of man, and spills the seed in vain’?(p.140))

However, the real value of this volume lies not in Benn’s short introduction but in the up-to-date and clear foreword provided by the New Left Review writer Tom Hazeldine, and the texts themselves, made available again in a cheap paperback edition for the first time in twenty years. Like Benn, Hazeldine sees modern relevance to the Diggers’ campaign (he points to the recent controversy over the proposed sale of national forests) but he also draws on the best recent historical scholarship – John Gurney’s forensic study of the Digger settlements in Surrey, Corns, Hughes and Lowenstein’s excellent edition of Winstanley’s collected works –to offer a valuable primer in both Winstanley’s life and the progress of the Digger movement. The selection of texts, edited by Andrew Hopton, is taken from an earlier collection of Digger pamphlets published in 1989, though Hopton has helpfully updated the explanatory notes to acknowledge recent discoveries.

This particular selection, as Hazeldine indicates in his foreword, excludes Winstanley’s four mystical works published in 1648, as well as another mainly religious work, Fire in the Bush (1650) and his final work, a vision of a communal, agrarian English state, The Law of Freedom in a Platform, published in 1652. But it would take a very inattentive reader even of the pamphlets that are included here to miss the way in which Winstanley’s prose was saturated with Biblical references and metaphors or to ignore the air of millenarian expectation -‘the Elect Spirit spread in Sons and Daughters (p.22)’. If Winstanley’s vision now appears unfulfilled, it is not only because the Digger settlements failed, but also because so much of that vision related to the world of the spirit, not the flesh.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Robert Dover’s Olympick Games

I contributed to this BBC Radio 3 documentary on Dover’s games, presented by former test cricketer Ed Smith. You can listen to the documentary here (available til 26th Feb 2012).

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The English Revolution and its Republican Legacy

I will be giving a talk on the above on Feb 16th as part of the Bishopgate Institute’s Monarchy and Republicanism series. Details here.

The Renaissance Elbow!

Fantastic little video. The history of gesture in doodles!

Published in: on January 5, 2012 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Non-traditional assessment in ‘traditional’ subjects – HEA workshop 4th April 2012

The Department of Humanities at the University of Roehampton has received some funding to host a workshop exploring the use of ePortfolios in teaching and assessing ‘traditional’ subjects (the examples used in the workshop will mainly be drawn from History and Classics). In particular, we will be looking at the use of PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) in supporting independent project work, improving study skills and enhancing employability. Details of the workshop can be found over here at the HEA website. The event is free and we have 30 places for interested delegates.