Archive for June, 2011

Films of the French Revolution

30 June 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

I am about to begin writing some new lecture courses for next year including one that I am particularly looking forward to within my own period of interest, the eighteen century, and on revolutions in the transatlantic world. After my first year teaching I am still amazed at the response of students to films, documentaries and video footage which cover a topic or event on the course. With that in mind I am looking for a good concise and reasonably accurate film that covers some part of the French Revolution. I came across this Wikipedia entry that lists 28 films to do with the French Revolution (click here). I do not, however, have time to go through all 28 so I was hoping for some assistance. Could anyone suggest some good films or at least knock out the bad ones for me?

Just in case you’re curious the above image is by the English caricaturist George Cruickshank, its called ‘The Radical’s Arms’ and dates to 1819.

This week I have been mostly reading

24 June 2011

Started this last week, liked the introduction and am enjoying the first chapter. Anyone else read it yet?


Listening to the world (in 100 objects)

22 June 2011

By Kevin O’Sullivan

On a Friday afternoon last October, at the end of a particularly intensive week’s photographing at the National Archives in Kew, I took the opportunity of a few hours rambling around London before catching the late flight from Heathrow. Bag safely ensconced in the left luggage at St Pancras, I headed for the British Museum with the germ of an idea. For months I’d been listening to – and loving – the museum’s ambitious collaborative project with BBC Radio 4: A History of the World in 100 Objects.

I arrived by the way I always seem to manage to get to the British Museum: not by the grand steps of the front entrance, but through that innocuous back/side entrance that makes you feel as though you’ve snuck in to the heart of the building without running the gambit of the groups of school children that range from the unruly to the genuinely interested via the more common expression: I’d-rather-be-somewhere/anywhere-else. (Innocuous, of course, except for the giant stone lions outside, but why would a historian let facts get in the way of a good narrative?)

The plan, in as much as I had one, was to pick – at random – two or three objects from the sixty or so episodes still on my iPod, occupy a quiet bench and listen as the persuasive voice of Niall McGregor, the museum’s director, guided me through the detail and context of a set of coins from eight century Syria. Read More

Review: Children’s Fiction 1765-1808, ed. Anne Markey

20 June 2011

Contributed by Pádraic Whyte

This title from the Early Irish Fiction series presents us with a selection of children’s stories published between 1765 and 1808. With an excellent introduction by editor Anne Markey, the book includes three tales: John Carey’s Learning Better than House and Land; Lady Mount Cashell’s Stories of Old Daniel; or, Tales of Wonder and Delight and various versions of Henry Brooke’s fable of the three little fishes from The Fool of Quality; or, The History of Henry, Earl of Moreland. This is an extremely timely and important publication as it makes a valuable contribution to studies in Irish children’s literature and, in turn, to studies in eighteenth century Irish literature more generally.

The selected writings from these three authors offer an insight into the varying ways in which much literature of the period was engaged in the struggle for young people’s minds, particularly in terms of the construction of narrative voice for the child reader. John Carey’s tale follows the lives and differing experiences of two young boys, Dick and Harry (yes, there’s also a father called Thomas) and demonstrates in no uncertain terms that diligence, hard work, and goodness will be rewarded. However, not trusting that the child reader will fully understand the moral, Carey places a note at the end, just to reiterate the point. Read more

Call me Sisyphus

17 June 2011

This is what my week has felt like… it can only get better next week, right?!


Remembering Declan Costello (1926-2011)

15 June 2011

Contributed by Ciara Meehan

I had the privilege of having lunch with Declan Costello in Leinster House in early 2009.  He was engaging, honest, and struck me as being an absolute gentleman.  We talked about why he drafted the Just Society when he did, the influences behind his thinking, and the challenges he faced in having it accepted by Fine Gael.  When I asked him what he thought of the document’s long-term legacy, he seemed disillusioned, admitting that it had not impacted on Fine Gael or on society as he had hoped.

The Just Society aimed to make a reality the concepts of freedom and equality.  Published as Fine Gael’s election manifesto for the 1965 election, Towards a Just Society proposed reforms in the field of economics (including a Ministry for Economic Affairs), changes in the Dáil and Seanad, an increase in the number of schools and teachers, an extension of the health services, a choice of doctor for all, and changes to social welfare.  Progressive, forward looking and with minimal references to Fianna Fáil, it signalled a break with the past and a shift away from Fine Gael’s traditional policies.

Declan Costello was first elected to the Dáil in 1951 at the age of 25 for the working-class constituency of Dublin North-West.  As the son of a former Taoiseach from a privileged background, his interest in social justice was perhaps peculiar.  But in his constituency he encountered emigration, unemployment and poverty; problems that were replicated throughout the country in the 1950s.  Ireland had not experienced the post-war boom enjoyed by other western countries, but the Seán Lemass / T.K. Whitaker programme for economic recovery resulted in a rise in confidence.  However, economic modernisation was not complemented with a social development strategy, and despite Lemass’s oft-cited ‘rising tide lifts all boats’, he himself admitted in 1963 that inequalities and distortions had emerged or widened. Read more

Pue is 2: Lisa

13 June 2011

By Lisa Marie Griffith

When we started Pue’s two years ago we were all based in Trinity and saw each other, if not every day, then every other day. Cosseted in the post graduate community within the School of Histories and Humanities it was sometimes difficult to appreciate that research and academia really can be a lonely place. In the last two years I have moved on to a far smaller humanities department, with just one other historian (a medievalist), outside of Dublin. In fact we have pretty much all moved on to a different institution or even city. What I have begun to appreciate most about blogging for Pue’s is how it brings people who are far away, but who have a common interest, together on a regular basis, it’s certainly the most important thing I take from Pue’s! Whether it is through our editorial meetings, our blogging symposiums or through the posts themselves I get to meet, engage and learn.

Within academia there are a number of issues which I have often felt were not discussed openly, and in particular (or perhaps because of the stage that I am at myself) these seem to relate to early career issues. Read more

Retail Therapy

10 June 2011


With a particularly tough couple of work weeks behind me, I decided to treat myself to a bit of retail therapy. Not, unfortunately, in this lovely Florence bookshop, but in The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar, Hodges Figgis, and, of course, Amazon. I didn’t break the bank, but I did pick up a few things: Roy Foster’s new book, Words Alone: Yeats and his Inheritances, the new Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Romanticism, edited by Murray Pittock, and a copy of Down these Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century, signed by its editor, Declan Burke, as well as a host of other contributors, including Declan Hughes, Sara Keating, and Ingrid Black. I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!








Stalking People in the Past

8 June 2011

Contributed by Marnie Hay

I used to feel like a stalker. I suspect that anyone who has researched and written a biography or a study of someone’s career feels the same way. You doggedly unearth and scrutinise various sources to uncover the most intimate and mundane details of your subject’s life. It becomes an obsession.

My quarry was Bulmer Hobson (1883-1969). He was that rare combination of a Belfast Protestant (a Quaker no less) and an ardent Irish nationalist who played a leading role in the advanced nationalist movement until 1916 when he was sidelined as a result of his opposition to the Easter Rising. In researching my PhD thesis on his nationalist career, I reconstructed Hobson’s life in the early twentieth century through a combination of letters, newspaper articles, and police reports. I realised that I was turning into a stalker when I created a database to track his nationalist activities. I was able to chart everything from public speaking engagements to yuletide visits to his parents’ home. Read more

Pue’s recommendations for June

6 June 2011

Juliana Adelman I was up in Belfast recently and with some time to kill I rediscovered the joy of second-hand bookshops full of dusty, mildewy intrigue for £1.50.  I picked up the classic Rats, Lice and History by Hans Zinsser.  It’s a history of typhus by a bacteriologist and, although outdated, full of great tidbits like: ‘In the last analysis, man may be defined as a parasite on a vegetable.’  The fantastic Reaktion animal history series is publishing Pig this month and I’ll be first in the que.  Last spring I took my first horse and carriage ride and I’ll be taking my small companion again ASAP.  It’s not cheap, but it gives you a very different perspective and you can get all kinds of interesting chat off the driver.  Obvious places are Dublin and Killarney, but I’ve also found ones in HowthCobh and Sligo.  Returning to dusty, mildewy things, a friend passed on this link to a facebook page devoted to bad taxidermy that makes for strangely addictive viewing (thanks, G).

Lisa Marie Griffith First on my list is Robert Darnton’s piece in the Chronicle Review dispelling commonly held beliefs on information and publishing today including ‘The Future is digital’, ‘the book is dead’ and ‘all information is available online’. While researching material for new courses last year I came across  The Early Modern Europe blog which has a wide range of subjects including the four humours, seventeenth-century alchemy and exploration. Like Tina I am thinking about my reading list for the summer especially because I am packing my bag for my holidays. Included in my suitcase are the following: Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (I am going to Cuba and have just finished the John Le Carre ‘Smiley Trilogy’ so need a spy novel to keep me going), John McGahern, Amongst Women and Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (this has been on my list for a very long time so I have finally committed and purchased a copy). With these, a history of Cuba and two guide books in my bag it might be surprising that I am still resisting a Kindle. Read more