When A. J. P. Taylor undertook the final volume of the old Oxford History of England, it was ‘England’, not ‘History’, which he found the problematic part of his brief.(1) The volume under review is the latest contribution to the New Oxford History of England, and how things have changed since Taylor’s day.
Stephen Mileson’s book is very timely, representing the first comprehensive study of medieval parks at a time when academic interest in aristocratic identity, social landscapes, hunting culture and environmental exploitation is blossoming.
The Industrial Revolution has traditionally been seen as a transformation in the technological basis of production and in the social arrangements surrounding it. On the other hand, the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries was originally conceived as a purely intellectual transition, a shift in mentalities or worldviews.
There is a long-standing tradition of joint-authored works that seek to understand the economics of British imperialism from the perspective of its underlying cultural assumptions and practices.
This festschrift pays tribute to one of our most distinguished medievalists, who has helped shape the subject through his teaching and writing, and through his active support for societies and individuals.
At its most basic level, a market is a locus of exchange, which enables people who need or desire certain things that they themselves do not produce to acquire these goods from others.
Given the amount of excellent accounts of post-war Britain that have appeared in the past decade or so, one is tempted to state that readers of contemporary British history have never had it so good.
Where does the history of consumption happen? The answer would be easy for the history of production: the workplace. Historians can use a well-understood taxonomy to organise their research: the farm, the factory, the office and so on. The history of consumption has never had this precision, thanks to the less location-specific nature of consuming.
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
A sure sign of the ageing process is when events that are part of your own memory start appearing in works of history. And so it is now the case with the 1980s; for one’s students, ‘Thatcher’ is a person of whom they have no firsthand knowledge, just a figure whom many of their lecturers and supervisors are prone to paint as the devil incarnate.