In November of 2011, I listened to Dr Samuel Alberti present a paper on ‘Body parts in Bart's’ – one of a series of seminars held in St Bartholomew’s pathological museum in West Smithfield. The museum is a cavernous room surrounded on all sides by glass specimen jars, making the visitor feel it is they who are as much under scrutiny as the specimens themselves.
Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska’s new history of the body, health and fitness in Britain is a wide-reaching and detailed study of relevant cultural practices and government policies between the Victorian period and the eve of the Second World War.
Over the past generation of scholarship, the history of consumption and material culture has emerged as a rich subfield of European history.
In Ocean Under Steam Frances Steel explores the impact of the 19th-century sea transport revolution in one of the extremities of the British Empire, the South Pacific Ocean. Published as part of the Manchester University Press ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series, under the general editorship of John MacKenzie, this is a self-consciously ‘de-centred’ imperial history.
The liberal enlightenment idea of progress has promised many benefits over the past 300 years. Liberal progress, we have been told, would provide cures for diseases, remedies for ignorance, alternatives to superstition, and antidotes to poverty. Nothing however has raised higher expectations than liberalism’s claim that it could put an end to war.
The Gordon Riots: Politics, Culture and Insurrection in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain / eds. Ian Haywood, John Seed
For one momentous week, London was convulsed with the most tumultuous series of riots, disorder and arson that its inhabitants had ever experienced. This volume of essays on the Gordon Riots of June 1780 is undoubtedly timely, published in the same month as the report commissioned by the government into the riots that afflicted London and other cities in August 2011.
The Americanization of the British Press, 1830s-1914: Speed in the Age of Transatlantic Journalism / Joel H. Wiener
This impressive book brings together two strands of media history to create a new narrative, attempting to explain how and why newspaper journalism in Britain and the United States was transformed between the 1830s and the first decades of the 20th century, establishing the popular style of journalism we know today.
Rosalind Crone’s Violent Victorians is the kind of book that should be on every undergraduate reading list for 19th-century studies.
Over the last twenty years Richard Bentley’s star has, if not exactly risen, then at least been mapped.
Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity: Art, Opera, Fiction, and the Proclamation of Modernity / Simon Goldhill
Simon Goldhill throws down the gauntlet to the entire field of classical reception studies in his new book Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity. This flourishing sub-discipline of Classics has, in the last two decades in particular, explored a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches.