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.
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.
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, 1962–2012, published 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 City, published by Cambridge University Press;
Alice Taylor, for The Shape of the State in Medieval Scotland, 1124-1290, published by Oxford University Press.
The RHS Newsletter for May 2017 is available here, and includes:
- Margot Finn’s Presidential Letter
- Public History Prize 2018 – Alix Green announces new awards in the Public History Prize in collaboration with the Historical Association
- Supporting Early Career Historians – grant winners Callie Wilkinson and Alys Beverton tell their stories
- Focus on: Education – Marcus Collins explains the work of the East Midlands Centre for History Teaching and Learning, and looks at the future of teaching in UK Higher Education
- Politicians’ Histories: the History of Parliament Oral History Project – Paul Seaward
- The Stern Report: the Future of REF – Mary VIncent explains the Society’s work responding to the report
The Society has submitted a response to the British Academy’s call for evidence for its Flagship Skills Project. You can view our submission here.
Following Lord Stern’s review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), HEFCE opened a consultation on REF2020-21, which closed on 17 March 2017. REF is of vital importance to the scholarly community and to history as a discipline and the consultation exercise has shown that its significance for our research culture is widely perceived. The Royal Historical Society has consulted History schools and departments across the country in preparing its submission to the consultation exercise, and has provided a considered response that evaluates the possible effects of measures such as full return of research staff and non-portability, seeks to support the position of Early Career Researchers, and makes a strong case for equality and diversity. Read the Society’s full response here.
The RHS has undertaken an analysis of the Research Environment Statements submitted by history departments for REF2014. The data is available here.
Ordinariness was a frequently deployed category in the political debates of 2016. Brexit was, according to one political leader, ‘a victory for ordinary, decent people who’ve taken on the establishment and won’. In this lecture I want to historicise recent use of the category by returning to another moment when ordinariness held deep political significance: the years immediately following the Second World War. I explore the range of values, styles, and specific behaviours that gave meaning to the claim to be ordinary; consider the relationship between ordinariness, everyday experience and knowledge; and map the political work ordinariness was called upon to perform. I conclude with some thoughts about how historians use the category today.
Prof. Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sussex
The RHS has undertaken an analysis of the Impact Case Studies submitted for History in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. A number of characteristics emerge from the analysis:
- Impact Case Studies were overwhelmingly headed by male historians: over 70% of listed Principal Investigators were men. This gender divide was higher at Professorial level than at other career stages, reflecting the issues surrounding gender equality highlighted in the RHS Gender Report.
- A diverse range of funding was used to support Impact Case Studies: while 31% listed support from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, nearly half did not list a specific source of external national funding.
- While there were Impact Case Studies on many different geographical areas, the UK was by far the largest area of focus (58%), followed by Europe (15%).
- Modern history was the main period focus (62%), with fewer centring on early modern (12%) or medieval history (6%).
- Public engagement was the largest impact area (listed by 66% of projects); comparatively few case studies were focused on digital impact (listed by just 9%).
Our analysis is available here.
The RHS annual newsletter for 2016 is available here, and includes:
- Articles by our outgoing President Peter Mandler and incoming President Margot Finn.
- Updates on education policy by outgoing Vice-President for Education Arthur Burns.
- Dr Olivette Otele on challenges and opportunities for black history.
- Vice-President Suzanne Bardgett on her work with Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships at the Imperial War Museum.
- Vice-President Mary Vincent on progress for the RHS’ widely-cited report on gender equality for historians.