Archive for September, 2009

How to turn your PhD into a book: part 2, find a publisher

30 September 2009

By Juliana Adelman

booksThis post assumes you have read part 1 on writing a book proposal.  There are lots of things to consider when looking for a publisher, but probably the most important is whether your book is a match to their list.  First and foremost do your research on who publishes in your particular area, and base your information on RECENT books (not ye olde classics from the 1970s).  In truth, there are probably many publishers which cover your area so once you have a short list you will need to prioritise.  Although I think you can work from the same book proposal, you now need to tailor it to the list of publishers you plan to send it to.  The proposal should look like you are graciously handing them a book which is an ideal match to their list.

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The love song of J. Alfred Proofreader

29 September 2009

Contributed by Myles Dungan

Medieval_writing_deskI’m old enough to have done Latin for the Leaving Certificate at a time when it was de rigeur. I missed out on Greek – I will never know at what cost. Which means I am also old enough to have been taught English grammar and punctuation as an integral part of the learning of that subject. So why have I never managed to quite get the colon or the semi colon, other than in this . . . : ) . . . context? Why am I always confused about words like ‘government’? Do they require a capital letter or should they be represented in lower case? Is it Lord Lieutenant, or lord lieutenant, or even Lord lieutenant, or maybe lord Lieutenant? Perhaps its even Lord LieuTenant. All right, I’m just being silly now. Is it New York Times or New York Times, the Times, or The Times? Well connected or well-connected?  And what do I do about words like ‘sympathise’? I’ve just written the word with a final ‘s’ and my computer programme has changed it to a ‘z’. I will now proceed to creep up on it and catch it unawares, delete the ‘z’ while hollering ‘death to America’ like some crazed Al Qaeda bomber and consign the zed (or is it zee) to my trash. (And yes, I have got English-English as my default but it seems to make no difference) The problem is that if I’m quoting from a 19th century letter, as I am wont to do, the ‘s’ and the ‘z’ seem to be random and interchangeable. Even Gladstone, in personal correspondence, used the form ‘sympathize’  (the computer liked that version). Read More

A Design for Life

28 September 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour, Channel 4, Sunday 27 September 2009

Pantheon by PaniniConsider this. You’ve come up with a brilliant idea for a mini series on the British grand tourists who travelled through early modern Europe, the places they visited, the foods they tasted, the ideas they borrowed, the things they saw. The second of four instalments details the link between the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and the architecture of early modern Florence and Rome. In the corners of these majestic cities it uncovers the influences borrowed by the architect Christopher Wren in the construction of St Paul’s Cathedral, the greatest monument to his elaborate and uncompleted plans to transform and rejuvenate a devastated London.

So far, so good, you might think.

But then you place your knowledgeable and articulate presenter (Kevin McCloud of the excellent Grand Designs) on the floor of the Medici Chapel in Florence and have him gaze up at the simple beauty of its Michelangelo-designed dome. McCloud utters something profound about the master’s craft, about this being architecture as power rather than architecture for the people. This is, he tells us, the place where ‘classical mythology meets dynasty, without the shoulder pads. Come to think of it, with the shoulder pads.’

And there it is: the slap in the face for the unsuspecting viewer, the reminder that this is diet history, history zero, history free, or whichever faddish description most tickles your fancy. But is it forgivable?

Just about. Read More

David Mitchell on the point of research

28 September 2009

By Juliana Adelman

David_mitchellI didn’t catch Mitchell’s column, ‘Pointless studies are the key to evolution’, in the printed Observer this weekend, but it has been doing the rounds in cyberspace.  Mitchell was reacting to the news that the British government will ask funding bodies to evaluate whether research has economic or social value before funding it.  This is to replace the Research Assessment Exercise, with a new ‘Research Excellence Framework’ (Ref, how cute).  I don’t think economic and social value were ever really off the radar in terms of funding research, but this article in the Guardian implies that the initiative is directly intended to discourage research which has no economic outcomes.  I haven’t read much about it so I’m not sure if Mitchell is making a mountain out of a mole hill, but his article is very funny indeed.  There is now a move to nominate Mitchell to a research council, put forward by academic Steve Fuller.  I will follow the story with interest…

Bring out your events!

28 September 2009

Billy_Clark_town_crier_NantucketThis post is really just an effort to highlight our Events page.  We aim to provide a central listing for all kinds of history events taking place in Ireland.  Please oh please send us your events.  Email us at  As you can see on the Events page, we usually put in a single sentence which also serves as a hyperlink to a website for the actual event.  So far in October there are conferences on Monism in Belfast, the history of New Age religion in Maynooth, the War of Independence in Dublin, and the Ulster plantation, also in Dublin.  Finally the Roscrea conference is on Irish Saints and the Liturgy.  I’m sure there’s more going on.  We are happy to add exhibitions, radio and tv programmes and public lectures.  (Have a look at Lisa’s tv and radio guide for the week while you’re at it.)  So bring out your events, we want your events!

The history week ahead… on tv and radio

26 September 2009

Contributed by Lisa-Marie Griffith

tvWe are always desperately seeking ways to hold your attention at Pues so we thought we would try something new this week. We are bringing you the radio and tv listing s of history programs. This is the first time we have done this and so if there is anything we have missed please let us know in a comment so that we can make this as complete as possible. Thanks!

Sunday: Talking History, Newstalk, 7.00 pm, Patrick Geoghegan and Lyndsey Earner Byrne; Conspiracy: Irish Political Trials under the union, RTE Radio 1, 6.05 pm (first of four part), Myles Dungan; The Genius of Darwin, Channel 4, 7pm (first of three parts), Richard Dawkins.

Monday: A History of Private Life, BBC Radio 4, 3.45 pm (series), Amanda Vickery (The Gentleman’s Daughter): A new series that investigates private life in Britain since 1600. 

Tuesday: History of Scotland, BBC 4, 8.00pm (series); From Abacus to Circle Time: A Short History of the Primary School, BBC Radio 4, 4pm.

Wednesday The Art of Dying, BBC 4, 9.00 pm, Dan Cruickshank.

Thursday: The Forgotten Irish, TV3, 9.00pm, a look  at the post WWII Irish diaspora to Britain (first of two part); Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, BBC 4, 9.00 pm.

A country-wide peek at Culture Night…

25 September 2009

By Lisa-Marie Griffith

Recomendations for Culture Night Pue's OccurrencesTonight is Culture Night 2009 and this year even more cities and towns than ever will take part in the event. BelfastCork, Dublin, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Tralee, Waterford and Wexford so I have taken a quick look at whats going on around the country to make some recommendations on what to see.  Belfast is participating in Culture night for the first year and most of the events will take place in the Cathedral quarter which ‘will be totally transformed for the evening as public areas and streets are turned into performance spaces. Read more

Uncle Arthur

24 September 2009

Contributed by David Dickson

Arthur_GuinnessIn honour of Arthur’s Day, Prof Dickson dispells a few myths and sheds some light on the origins of the global brand that is Guinness.

The first Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) was born into a Protestant Kildare family — on the way up.  His father was steward for an Anglican bishop Arthur Price, who in turn was connected with the powerful Conollys of Castletown House.  The family tradition is that Arthur was named after Dr Price; certainly both he and his father received handsome inheritances in 1752. The young Arthur used his legacy to set up as a small-town brewer in Leixlip c.1755, and four years later graduated to greater things when he acquired the disused James’ Gate brewery, strategically located beside the Dublin city reservoir.   Brewing was still a back-yard affair, but this was no insignificant investment.  He may have been encouraged by the fact that two of his brothers had already gone into business in the city – one as a wholesale merchant, the other a goldsmith.

Arthur soon married into money.  His poor wife suffered at least twenty-one pregnancies; perhaps more remarkably for the era, twelve of the children survived to adulthood. Their main place of residence was in Thomas Street beside the brewery, but early in the marriage Arthur acquired a small suburban property on which the villa of Beaumont was built. So began the long Guinness association with north Dublin.

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Curio(u)s: A Miscellany of Literary Tidbits

23 September 2009

Contributed by Christina Morin

the beggar's opera

As I was reading through the recent posts here on Pue’s Occurrences, it struck me that a blog is, for all intents and purposes, a twenty-first century equivalent of that peculiarly eighteenth-century literary form: the miscellany. In very general terms, a miscellany is, according to the OED, ‘[a] mixture, medley, or assortment; (a collection of) miscellaneous objects or items’. In literary terms, it’s ‘[a] book, volume, or literary production containing miscellaneous pieces on various subjects’. Working from this definition, my little summaries of eighteenth-century novels and review of contemporary adaptations of eighteenth century plays could be pretty accurately described as a miscellany, too – a Reader’s Digest of eighteenth-century fictional and dramatic greats (abridged). 

While I have mixed feelings about this thought, primarily owing to caution ensuing from an as yet short but somehow all too long teaching career, in this context I prefer to think, along with Samuel Johnson, that ‘[i]t is by studying the little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible’. Here, of course, I am grandly interpreting the literary précis as one of these so-called ‘little things’, and I offer forth my (admittedly highly biased) musings on eighteenth-century literature hoping first and foremost to entertain. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit to being completely elated when a reader responded to my first post to say that he had actually gone out and read Castle Rackrent. (Bless you, Patrick!) Read more

Film Review: Dorian Gray

22 September 2009

Contributed by Ann Downey

Dorian GrayDorian Gray is director Oliver Parker’s third foray into adaptation of a work by Oscar Wilde. In 1999 he directed An Ideal Husband and three years later followed with The Importance of Being Ernest, for both of which he wrote the screenplay. The former, starring Cate Blanchette and Rupert Everett, was a more successful film than The Importance, which lacked the crispness and pace of the more successful adaptation of 1947 starring Michael Redgrave and an unforgettably acerbic Lady Bracknell in Edith Evans.

Wilde’s novel has been filmed at least twenty times, the most famous being that of 1945, winning the Oscar for cinematography. The most recent, in 2006 was set in New York. The horror aspect was foremost in the 2005 version called simply Dorian. This current is the fifth film based on the novel since 2000. Before that television adaptations were more common, with versions in 1973, 1976 and 1983. The only feature film made since the 1945 version was that of Massimo Dallamano in 1970 starring German actor Helmut Berger. It was filmed more than five times in the decade before 1920 in German and French versions. This would not be unusual as at this time filmmaking was in its infancy and literature of every sort was mined for stories. These films could be as short as ten minutes, though by 1915 the full length feature had matured. Less than 15% of these early films survive.

Dorian Gray suffers from some of the faults of Parker’s Ernest; an uneven pacing and misjudgements in exposition but is redeemed by an excellent central performance from Ben Barnes.

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