Summer Updates

While the summer is a time of much needed rest and recuperation, for academics it is also a time for research. As you’ll see in the updates from each member of staff below, staff in History team have been busy publishing research articles, working on research projects and doing some filming!

First, however, we have some important news to share. Our Early Modern specialist Dr Erin Peters has now left the University. All the team wish her the best in her new endeavours, and thank her for the great contribution she made to the course since 2015. At the same time, we are very happy to announce that Dr Mark Hutchinson will be staying with us and taking over the Early Modernist role. We are now busy looking ahead to the start of the academic year.

Vicky Randall

While I have spent my summer mostly drinking wine and wandering around Paris (in the rain!!!) I have done some productive things. I finished one research project on the nineteenth century historian Thomas Arnold, and the parallels he drew between the bloody civil war in Ancient Rome and the class conflicts of his own day. This has now been published as an article entitled The Romance of the Republic: Class Conflict and the Problem of Progress in Thomas Arnold’s History of Rome (1838–42) in the Journal of the History of Ideas.

Thomas Arnold (1795-1842)

I have also been taking some small steps to advance my new research project on Victorian literary representations of the Arab-Islamic World. Some of this material might make its way into the second year modules on the Victorians.

More unexpectedly, I was invited to be a participant in a documentary series on the Georgians. It will be a four-part documentary, and I talk about all the King Georges but also some historical figures that are favourites with students – including Sir Robert Walpole, John Wilkes, and the Duchess of Devonshire. I’m not sure when the documentary series will air yet, but I will keep you all posted!

Mark Hutchinson

I spent part of the summer seeing through the copy-edit stage of the following article, which should hopefully be finally published this academic year in Renaissance Quarterly, ‘Reason of State, Estates and Stände in German and English Exchanges over the Crisis in the Palatinate, 1618-1624.’

Like Vicky, I have also spent part of the summer trying to make progress on my second book by taking various research trips to London – Diabolical Liberties in Early Modern England and Ireland: A Conceptual History. I have also just completed a review of Christopher Ocker’s, The Hybrid Reformation: a social, cultural and intellectual history of contending forces (Cambridge, 2022) for History of European Ideas. 

Next week I am on a French cultural exchange in Dijon before returning to work, and obviously, I am very happy to be staying at Gloucestershire.  

Melanie Ilic

I spent some of the summer catching up with family and friends at various places around the UK. As you can see from other updates, for academics the long summer is not spent sunning ourselves. It’s the period of the year when we turn our attentions to a different aspect of our employment contract: research. We also continue to supervise our postgraduate students over the summer.

In the past few weeks I’ve been very busy: I was external examiner for a PhD on Soviet abortion policy, and I worked with two of my own PhD students to prepare them for final submission. I wrote a book review on Laboratories of Terror, about the ‘purge of the purgers’ in Ukraine following the end of the Great Terror. I put the final touches to my chapter on ‘Soviet Women in the 1980s’ and submitted it to the editor of a forthcoming book on The Global 1980s. On top of all that, I spent a good deal of time working on my book about the different ways in which women contributed to the Soviet dissident movements from the 1960s to the 1980s. This included spending a few days working in a specialist library in London, where I was able to have lunch with Mark one day!

Melanie’s afternoon tea at Liberty’s

Christian O’Connell

I devoted much of my summer to a European road trip in which I covered a whopping 4500 miles. I spent time exploring the Charente region of France and also visited some amazing places like the beautiful city of Bordeaux. I then travelled down to central Italy where I spent time with family, enjoying the beach, and great food, while managing to avoid the heatwave.

It was not all holiday, however. I also had to complete the copy-editing of an article that was finally published in mid-August in the International History Review. The article is entitled ‘Bringing Columbus Home: Buffalo Soldiers, Representation, and Transatlantic Memory of the Italian Campaign in WWII.‘ It looks at the experiences of African American troops in Italy, in particular, a symbolic but relatively unknown ceremony where the ashes of Christopher Columbus were returned the Italian city of Genoa. This event encapsulates the complicated experiences of the ‘Buffalo’ soldiers and their legacies. 

Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division taking part in the ceremony in Genoa, 6th June 1945. Photograph courtesy of Bruno Aloi.

Since returning to Cheltenham I have been busy getting ready for the new year but also working with the Gloucester History Festival and many of its exciting events. I will be introducing the actor and author Paterson Joseph, who will be talking about his book ‘The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho’ on Sunday 17th September.

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