RHS News

Presidential Address 2017: ‘Loot’, Prof. Margot Finn

On 24 November, RHS President Margot Finn presented her first annual Presidential address, discussing the subject of ‘Loot’ in her series on ‘Material Turns in Modern British History’. You can watch the lecture, and read Prof. Finn’s abstract below.

The first of four annual addresses deploying methodological approaches associated with the ‘material turn’, this lecture focuses on the relationship between imperial warfare, on the one hand, and the writing of History in modern Britain, on the other. It does so by tracing the entangled histories of booty, plunder and prize in the Third Anglo-Maratha or Pindari campaigns of c. 1817-1819, and by examining the material afterlives of Indian loot in late Georgian and Victorian Britain. Not least among the consequences of military men’s efforts to regulate (and profit from) the vibrant indigenous and imperial plunder regimes of the East India Company era was an efflorescence of historical research conducted on the subcontinent under the Company’s aegis. Co-produced with Indian scribal and princely elites, the historical writing that flourished in the Pindari War and its aftermath was caught up in and fostered by wider processes of material exchange that saw plundered jewels, weaponry, textiles and manuscripts fuel , rationalize and reward both Indian and British combatants. The history-writing of these campaigns differed sharply from the Whig verities which were to dominate later Victorian historiography. But these earlier and later varieties of historical interpretation are viscerally related—most notably in the biography and the material possessions of the Royal Historical Society’s fourth President (1891-1899), Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. On the eve of the Society’s 150th anniversary, it is timely to render more visible History’s connection—by blood, capital, and the spoils of war—to earlier practices of archiving, researching and writing the past born on the battlefield.

Call for Nominations to REF2021 History Sub-Panel

The Royal Historical Society has been invited by HEFCE to nominate sub-panel members for REF2021 and will be looking to put forward c.50 names before nominations close in December 2017.

This important process requires us to balance the number of nominees needed to cover particular sub-disciplinary areas with equality and diversity considerations and HEFCE’s intention to have c. a third of the sub-panel with previous REF panel experience with, correspondingly, at least c. a third new members.

It is vital that the History sub-panel reflects the range, institutional variety and expertise of our discipline (including an ability to assess research published in languages other than English), and that its membership commands the confidence of the profession.

To help achieve this goal, the RHS is inviting Fellows to contact us with the names and disciplinary areas of potential nominees. Suggestions for both full sub-panel members (responsible for assessing outputs, environments and impacts) and for impact reviewers who work outside the Higher Education sector will be welcome. In keeping with HEFCE’s wider nominating process, the Society will not consider either individual self-nominations or nominations made by a colleague at the nominee’s own university.

Prior to contacting the Society, Fellows are kindly requested to read carefully the HEFCE guidance on REF sub-panel membership, available here.

Note should be taken (1) of the very substantial time commitment required in a discipline in which output assessment is undertaken by qualitative reading, often of lengthy texts; and (2) that sub-panel membership typically entails both travel and periods of over-night accommodation away from sub-panel members’ home institutions.

Fellows should be aware that we expect to receive many more names than we will be able to nominate, reflecting the strength of History in the UK. Following HEFCE guidance on diversity and reaching out to under-represented groups, we strongly encourage nominations from those under-represented in REF2014 panels

All suggestions for potential sub-panel members should be sent to
rhsref2021@royalhistsoc.org, before 12:00 noon on Wednesday 22 November.

In suggesting names for the Society’s consideration, please include the following information, in the following order, in the body of your email:

1) Confirmation that you are currently a Fellow of the RHS (Y/N);

2) Full name of proposed REF sub-panel member;

3) Email address of proposed nominee;

4) Institutional address of proposed nominee;

5) URL of candidate’s individual page on institutional/professional website;

6) Field(s) of specialism of proposed nominee (region, chronology, sub-disciplinary area, and/or methodology, as appropriate);

7) Any known prior experience of peer-review in History (editorial experience, research council assessment boards, etc.)

 

HEFCE Recruitment for TEF Panel Members

HEFCE has opened recruitment for approximately 100 panel member roles on the TEF Subject Pilot panels and a small number of roles on TEF Year Three for applicants with HE in further education colleges and/or alternative providers.  There are roles for students, academics, widening participation experts, employment experts and employer and PSRB representatives to review submissions and decide on the assessment outcomes.

We would encourage you to review the available roles to see if you or a colleague may be interested. We would also be grateful if you could disseminate details to colleagues across your provider.

The role specifications and applications forms for the available roles can be found on the TEF recruitment portal. Please note that the deadline for receipt of applications for all roles is midday on Friday 6 October.

Should you have any questions regarding the roles, please contact TEF@hefce.ac.uk.

 

RHS Lecture: Prof. Chris Marsh, ‘Bestselling Ballads in Early Modern England’

On 22 September, Prof. Chris Marsh (Queen’s University, Belfast) delivered an RHS lecture entitled “The Woman to the Plow and the Man to the Hen-Roost”: Wives, Husbands, & Best-Selling Ballads in Seventeenth-Century England. Prof. Marsh’s lecture included musical performances by himself and the singer Vivien Ellis. You can watch the lecture and read the abstract below.

This lecture grows out of a research project that aims to identify 100 hit songs from seventeenth-century England. Two historians are working with a group of musicians to produce new recordings of the period’s most successful broadside ballads (single-sheet songs that were sung and sold on the streets), and the results will eventually appear on a website. Today, we will concentrate on ballads about marital relations, and the importance of these sources for our understandings of early modern culture and society will be assessed. The talk will feature murder, adultery and monstrosity, though it will also be suggested that a tendency to concentrate on the exotic and extreme in early-modern balladry needs to be held in check. Some of the ballads will be performed live by the singer, Vivien Ellis.

Education Policy Committee Overview

Ken Fincham is Chair of the Education Policy Committee. He writes:

The RHS is committed to monitoring and supporting the teaching of history in higher education and secondary schools. The Educational Policy Committee was founded in 2003 to bring together expertise in and outside Council in order to promote history teaching through offering expert advice to government and NGOs as well as sponsoring conferences and teaching-related initiatives. Accordingly, on the Committee sit not just elected councillors with a particular interest in teaching but also a number of co-opted members from History UK (representing History in HE), the Historical Association and secondary schools, and they bring to our discussions a wealth of experience and insights. Among our co-opted members are the former Chief HMI for History at Ofsted, the former discipline lead for History at the Higher Education Academy, and a current academy-school teacher and editor of Teaching History. Regular Committee meetings are supplemented by biannual visits to history departments where we see history teaching on the ground, sometimes in rather challenging circumstances, which helps inform our discussions and shape our priorities.

History in HEIs

The Committee takes a broad purview of history at university by examining trends in admissions, curriculum design and delivery for both undergraduates and taught postgraduates. We are interested in history teaching in all its various settings, whether in a single-subject department, a multi-disciplinary humanities or humanities and social science unit, or historians teaching in other departments such as languages. Representatives of the RHS speak at teaching events and sponsor a number of workshops and conferences, most recently the ‘New to History teaching’, a one-day event in September 2017 at the IHR. We often provide expert advice to public bodies: in 2013-14 we contributed to the revision of the History Benchmarking document produced by the Quality Assurance Agency, and in 2017 gave evidence to the British Academy’s flagship project on skills in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Currently the most pressing matter is the rapid development of the Teaching Excellent Framework. In January 2016 the Society submitted its response to the Government Green Paper on HE, ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’, which was endorsed by the Economic History Society, History UK, the British Agricultural History Society, and the East Midlands Centre for History Teaching and Learning. Since then, the Society has maintained a watching brief over the rapid evolution of the TEF, and will in due course take up the invitation to offer views on the pilot subject-level metrics in 2017-19 and to the Independent Review of TEF in 2018-19. Another important role of the Society is to provide guidelines and resources for the fellowship and the wider discipline. We see it as a priority in the next few years to consider the implications of the digital revolution as it affects the teaching of history, and the evidence for better and best teaching practice across UK, and to share our thoughts and findings through a teaching resource portal on our website.

History in Schools

The RHS plays an important role in discussions about teaching in history, working in partnership with the Historical Association. In 2014-15 we took a leading role in discussions on reshaping history teaching from the National Curriculum via GCSE to A level. We are committed to ensuring that history in schools offers the best possible preparation for further study of the subject while also providing a rounded and fulfilling historical education for those who do not continue to study history at a higher level. Over the past decade we have built up excellent relations to the School Examination Boards, offering them advice and support as required, and convening a meeting most years to facilitate the exchange of views between their representatives as well as to asess trends in uptake, choice within specifications and performance. The recent revision of GCSE and A Level make these meetings particularly timely and informative.

The Move from School to University

Given the remit of the Society, and our close working relationship with the Historical Association, we are well-placed to help bridge the gap between history at school and university. We welcome, and are actively supporting, the Historical Association’s recent initiatives to forge closer ties with HEIs. We keep a close eye over the provision of teacher training places, and intervened in 2015-16 to protest to government over the threatened reduction in their number. A conference is being planned for March 2018, under the auspices of Professor Arthur Burns, Chair of the Committee in 2013-16, to bring together teachers of history in schools and universities with represenmtatives of the Examination Boards to review the consequences of recent curriculum changes and to smooth the transition from A Level to first year university history.

Kenneth Fincham is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Kent. A former RHS Hon. Secretary and then Councillor, he is an experienced academic editor and has a long-standing interest in curriculum and in building bridges between secondary and tertiary teaching. In the 1980s he taught for two years in a secondary school, and since then has been involved in ‘A’ Level history as an examiner, setter and now reviser.

 

Professor F M L Thompson

The Society notes with sadness that Professor F M L (Michael) Thompson, historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, and President of the RHS from 1988-1992, has died.  The author of 52 publications listed in the Bibliography of British & Irish History, Michael was a prolific and influential historian of landed society, property relations, agriculture, free trade and much more.  His longstanding generosity to the discipline was evident not only in his many contributions to the RHS but in roles that included Editor of the Economic History Review (1968-80), President of the Economic History Society (1983-86) and Director of the Institute of Historical Research (1977-1990).  His many labours, keen eye and warm wit will be much missed.

Professor Margot Finn, President.

 

Prothero Lecture 2017: ‘Orthodoxy & Revolution’, Prof. Simon Dixon

Professor Simon Dixon (UCL) presented this year’s Prothero Lecture, ‘Orthodoxy & Revolution: The restoration of the Russian patriarchate in 1917’ at University College London on 7 July. You can watch the lecture, and read Professor Dixon’s abstract below.

At the height of the October Revolution in Moscow – a much bloodier affair than the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd – the Orthodox Church installed Tikhon (Bellavin) as Russia’s first patriarch since 1700. At the most obvious level, this was a counter-revolutionary gesture aimed at securing firm leadership in a time of troubles. It was nevertheless a controversial move. Ecclesiastical liberals regarded a restored patriarchate as a neo-papal threat to the conciliarist regime they hoped to foster; and since Nicholas II had explicitly modelled himself on the Muscovite tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, the potential for renewed conflict between church and state was clear long before 1917. This lecture will emphasise the extent to which a single individual haunted the whole debate. For, until the last moment, it was widely assumed that the new patriarch would be not the little-known Tikhon, but Archbishop Antonii (Khrapovitskii) [pictured above], whose attempts to model himself on Patriarch Nikon – the most divisive of seventeenth-century patriarchs – helped to make him the most controversial prelate of the age.

RHS Book Prize Winners 2017

The RHS is pleased to announce the winners of our 2017 Book Prizes.

 

The Whitfield Prize is awarded to:

Claire Eldridge, for From empire to exile History and memory within the pied-noir and harki communities, 1962–2012published by Manchester University Press.

 

The Gladstone Prize is awarded jointly to:

William Cavert, for The Smoke of London Energy and Environment in the Early Modern Citypublished by Cambridge University Press;

and

Alice Taylor, for The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124-1290published by Oxford University Press.