Archive for May, 2011

Pue is 2: Tina

30 May 2011

By Christina Morin

When I wrote my first piece for Pue’s back in July 2009, I didn’t really anticipate writing another entry, let alone later joining the editorial team. This was, as far as I was concerned, an intriguing opportunity to offer general thoughts and opinions on the novels central to my research in a space freely accessible to academics and non-academics alike. The responses to that first piece, including one noting how it had helped prompt the reader to pick up Castle Rackrent, however, encouraged me to contribute further pieces to Pue’s, and I was delighted when Juliana, Kevin, and Lisa asked me to come on board as an editor in January 2010.

What I hadn’t realized when I wrote that first piece in 2009 was how appealing I would find the immediacy of blogging. As we discussed at our most recent symposium, ‘Honest to Blog’, there’s quite often a lengthy delay in the academic publishing experience, meaning that timeliness can be a significant problem. A scholarly article commenting on a particular current event or development, for instance, frequently appears long after said event has come and gone. Blogging, however, allows for instant engagement with matters of pressing, if time-limited, concern or interest. More than that, as evidenced by our readers’ lively responses to Pue’s pieces, it engenders immediate critical debate. Read more

Can you tell where it is yet?

27 May 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Well, any guesses?

You have been reading, in order of appearance…

25 May 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

Ever wondered what everyone is actually reading on Pue’s? If you’re a stat-addict like me, then the answer is probably yes. If you haven’t, then you probably live a healthier, more carefree life, but at least you might find something in this list that you might have missed. Here, in order of their publication, are the fifteen most-read pieces that have been posted on Pue’s over the past two years. (You’ll notice that most of them are from 2009 and 2010 and have therefore had more time to accumulate hits. It would be more accurate, of course, to come up with some way of averaging the views per day or something entirely more elaborate, but I don’t have the time for that, so this will have do…)

A few of my favourites, 3 July 2009
Tina introduces us to the best in eighteenth-century fiction.

Not quite Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, 20 July 2009
Lisa discovers Max Fleischer’s animated classic.

How to turn your PhD into a book: Part 1, prepare a book proposal, 17 September 2009
The first in Juliana’s guide to getting your PhD published.  Read More

Pue is 2: Kevin

23 May 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s a funny thing this, sitting down to reflect on a life with Pue’s. Being an historian, two years doesn’t really seem that long. But then we didn’t really know what to expect when we started out twenty-four months ago, scribbling ideas on a notepad, wondering what template and what colours to use, noting what we did and didn’t like in a website, and going through the arduous process of finding a suitable banner image. (Note to Juliana, Lisa and the people we dragged in with a loaded request for their opinion: remember the hours we spent discussing this?) Don’t get me wrong, we had a feeling the blog was a good idea – we’d have been fools to start it if we didn’t. And we reckoned that we might get one or two of you to drop in and say hello from time to time (you did, and thanks). But we had no idea how long it would last. Or what form it would take if it did. Or how you would respond to it.

When we started out just over two years ago – we had a month of what you might call foostering about (we’d call it creative freedom) before we hit the button and went ‘live’ – we came with the idea of doing something different, something that would constantly evolve rather than remain static. Read More

Remembering Garret FitzGerald (1926-2011)

20 May 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It was early July 2005. I was sitting in Garret FitzGerald’s front room, in the midst of an hour-long conversation about his time as Irish minister for foreign affairs, when my interviewee stopped me in mid-sentence. I’d been asking him why Ireland had refused to open full diplomatic relations with Portugal until – as I had it in my preparation notes – 1975, after the Revolution of the Carnations and the fall of the Caetano regime. ‘1974’, FitzGerald corrected me. But being a confident young postgraduate less than a year into my PhD, I was standing my ground. ‘No’, I said. ‘I believe it was 1975.’ ‘Really?’ came the reply, shocked less, I think, at the response than at the idea that he might have made an error in his dates.

He mumbled something and left the room – in a rather sprightly fashion I might add – and I sat there for a while, wondering where he’d gone, and who’d eventually find the stone from one of the cherries he’d been eating after lunch and dropped under his chair. (It makes for a nice little moment on the tape.) About five minutes later he returned brandishing a copy of the annual State Directory and an admission that yes, I had been correct. We carried on our conversation from there, passing through his story of enraging the Germans over the Irish insistence on spending someone else’s money (on foreign aid – but plus ça change nonetheless), on the way to borrowing the Fijian foreign minister’s glasses in Lomé, west Africa, in 1975, but without me ever finding out why – or where – he held a private collection of official publications in the comfort of his own home. Read More

You can see why I’m worried…

20 May 2011

…you would  be too if this was your reading list.  Meat and disease are weighing heavily on my mind.  And come to think of it I haven’t had a steak in weeks…

Have a good weekend.


Garda Museum and Archive

18 May 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

Last week I took a guided trip around the Garda Museum and Archive which resides in a two hundred year old Record Tower at Dublin Castle. The safe above is just one of the treasures which the museum holds. It is the safe from which the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen. The jewels were commissioned to be worn by the monarch when bestowing the Knighthood of St Patrick (the Irish equivalent of the Order of the Garter) on Irish figures. They were held in Dublin Castle and in 1903 a new strong room was built to protect.  The door in ths new strong room was too narrow, however, and the safe was too big to get in though the door. New precautions had to be taken by the Officer of Arms of Dublin Castle, Arthur Vicars to protect the jewels. The keys to the safe were held by Vicars and the safe itself was hidden behind 7 locked doors. The precautions were not enough and on 6 July 1907, just four days before a visit from Edward VII to Ireland, the jewels were discovered to have been stolen from the safe- notice the thief proof guarantee on the door!)

The museum is filled with treasures of this kind and nuggets about policing in the capital and the National Police Force at large. Some of the wonderful items on display include full nineteenth-century uniforms for senior and junior ranking police members, early photographs of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, caricatures and sketches of the force, handbooks provided to DMP officers, medals and honours and other police memorabilia. The record tower itself formerly held prisoners which adds a further eerie element to the museum. Read more

‘Big Society’ debate rumbles on

16 May 2011

By Juliana Adelman

In late March the Observer ran an article claiming that the major humanities funding body in the UK (AHRC) had agreed under duress to put a large proportion of its funding resources towards research into the ‘Big Society‘.  The newspaper asserted that the new Tory-led government had forced this concession in order to direct humanities research to underpin the party’s own values and plans.  The AHRC disagreed with this interpretation of events and issued a statement on the subject that you can read here and a slightly more recent one here.  While the debate has continued to attract attention from scholars and has often been in the papers, it seems to have heated up again recently with the publication of a letter by the director of the AHRC in the Times Higher Education supplementThere is a petition on the go and I have received a notice on the subject from a couple of email lists that I belong to.  In short, a lot of academics are really angry and concerned that this marks the end of freedom in research in the UK.  Reference is often made to the Haldane Principle which established that research funding decisions should be made by other researchers rather than politicians. I find the idea of funneling research money into political ideologies to be both laughable and worrisome in a democracy.  Nevertheless, I also find it slightly disingenuous that researchers are claiming that having the decision in their own hands is a complete guarantee of academic freedom.  Surely academics also live in the political and social world and are thereby vulnerable to other influences aside from those of their discipline? And of course academia has its own set of politics which are admittedly different from government politics but have a significant impact nonetheless.  What do you think?

I wish I was there

13 May 2011

This is a painting of a view from Mt Desert Island in Maine by the nineteenth-century artist Thomas Cole.  My family have been vacationing on Mt Desert since I was a kid when we would drive 20 hours from Virginia to Maine with a stop at my grandmother’s in Boston.  The island has long been appreciated as a beauty spot: Thomas Cole and Frederick Church were among the artists to make it famous.  A large portion of it was once owned by the Rockefeller family, who donated much of the land that now forms Acadia National Park.  The other night I read Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands (recommended) which set me to thinking about my favourite islands and wishing my suitcase was packed and my ticket bought.


Holding back the tide

12 May 2011

By Juliana Adelman

‘Dead cats and dogs and offal of all sorts’ in Clanbrassil Street.  A sewer full of dead animals, refuse and the bedding from cholera patients at Newcomen Bridge.  Dozens of pigs to the rear of a house in ‘Pleasant’ Street.  A scavenging depot at Whitehorse Yard with manure overflowing its walls.  A slaughter house in Sackville Lane pouring rancid blood and offal down the street.  400 milch cows in Mahony’s Lane (off Great Brunswick Street), lying in ‘the most disgusting filth’.  Fumes from fat boilers, bone boilers and gut factories poisoning the air.  It is a wonder that nineteenth-century Dubliners did not daily drown in their own waste.

As those of you who caught some of the recent BBC Two series ‘Filthy Cities’ will have noticed, dirt is in.  For some of my research I have been going through the nineteenth-century minute books of Dublin’s Public Health Committee with growing empathy and affection for the sanitary sergeants. Read more