Introduction: trauma, modernity, and the First World War
Celebrity is becoming a hot topic for academics of all kinds, witnessed by the launch of the journal Celebrity Studies earlier this year.
In March 2011, BBC Two broadcast a 90-minute adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s Christopher and His Kind (1976).(1) Leaving aside its possible merits and/or shortcomings, the airing of this TV-dramatisation was indicative of an on-going fascination with Isherwood’s portrayal of the decadent, Nazi-ridden Berlin of the Weimar Republic, captured most famously
The thesis and value of Andrew Elliott’s new study of ‘medieval film’ are neatly encapsulated by his reminding us at the end of the book’s preface that, in the medieval tradition, the Grail quest involved asking, not answering, the right questions.
Over the past generation of scholarship, the history of consumption and material culture has emerged as a rich subfield of European history.
Rachel Duffett has written a fine social history of British rank and file soldiers, or rankers, and their experiences of food during the Great War. She states, ‘The ranker’s relationship with food was a constant thread, woven throughout his army experience … every day, wherever he was, a man needed to eat’ (p. 229).
As Jan Rüger suggested in his 2011 review article ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, since 2000 almost every aspect of the history of Anglo-German relations has been reassessed and re-examined as a story not of increasing and inevitable antagonism, but of a much more complex process.
In 1975 Paul Kennedy wrote that ‘yet another survey of the much-traversed field of Anglo-German relations will seem to many historians of modern Europe to border on the realm of superfluity’.(1) Even so, the intervening 37 years has seen no slackening off of the interest of both scholars and the general public in this particular international relationship.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.
In a new development for Reviews in History, Daniel Snowman talks to Miranda Seymour about her new book, Noble Endeavours: Stories from England; Stories from Germany, her career as a historian, historical novelist and biographer, and the issues surrounding collective biography and prosopography.