Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Jan 2020 update

The latest update to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – published 9 January 2020 – adds biographies of 228 men and women who died in 2016, and who left their mark on British national life. Of these, the earliest born is the author E.R. Braithwaite (1912-2016) and the latest born is the geriatrician and campaigner for compassionate care in health services, Kate Granger (1981-2016).

It was often remarked at the time that 2016 was the worst year ever for what were termed ‘celebrity deaths’, and there are many new entries that provide corroboration for this lament. David Bowie (real name David Robert Jones) and George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou) were both global celebrities, who not only shaped and transformed popular music, but also challenged conventional attitudes to sexuality and gender identities. The release also contains a number of popular TV personalities and presenters, notably Sir Terry Wogan, Sir Jimmy Young, and comedian Ronnie Corbett.

The political lives included are in contrast hardly figures of the first rank, let alone celebrities. Cecil Parkinson was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher’s, but his wayward private life meant he never achieved the highest office, while Thatcher derided Jim Prior as one of the ‘wets’ in her cabinet. More poignantly, is the tragic figure of Jo Cox, sadly murdered during the 2016 referendum campaign at the age of only 41.

Scholars and scientists include forensic scientist Margaret Pereira, historian Asa Briggs, Baron Briggs, and chemist Sir Harry Kroto. As ever, we have a free selection of these new entries, together with a full list of the new biographies

Dr. Anders Ingram, Research Editor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Ecclesiastical History Sources for Postgraduates sessions

We are pleased to announce two sessions of interest to Postgraduates studying ecclesiastical history:

Ecclesiastical History for postgraduates: Introduction to using the Special Collections at the Weston Library

Thurs 30 Jan, 11am-1pm, Horton Room, Weston Library (make sure you store your bags in £1 lockers first)

This session will provide a practical introduction to using special collections at the Bodleian Libraries. We will outline the nature of the main Bodleian collections and explain how to find research material using online and printed finding aids. (This will include practical exercises for which a laptop will be useful.) We will end with the practicalities of ordering and handling manuscripts and how to cite them in your work.

Presenter: Matthew Holford (Tolkien Curator of Medieval Manuscripts) and Mike Webb (Early Modern Curator)

Please note that there is limited availability. Email Isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk if you are interested.

Ecclesiastical History for postgraduates: Digital resources

Thurs 13 Feb, 11am-1pm, Horton Room, Weston Library (make sure you store your bags in £1 lockers first)

A two hour seminar during which key online resources relating to church history, covering largely Christianity from medieval to early 20th century, will be demonstrated. The resources include bibliographical and reference tools, digital source materials and how to keep up-to-date with new publications. Presenters: Isabel Holowaty (History Librarian) and Hilla Wait (Theology & Philosophy Librarian)

Please note that there is limited availability. Email Isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk if you are interested.

 

Self-issue update: upgrades and additions

Bodleian Libraries are currently in the process of upgrading all self-issue machines, which should ensure that we’re able to offer readers a reliable and secure service. Unfortunately this will result in a temporary break in service, but we’re hopeful things will be up and running again by the end of January. In the meantime staff at the issue desk are more than happy to help anyone wishing to issue books. 

We’re also pleased to report that in the coming weeks the HFL will be receiving a second self-issue machine, which will be trialled in the Upper Gladstone Link. The machine will initially be located beside the PCAS machine on the Camera side of the reading room, where we hope it will prove a convenient addition for readers accessing collections in this area. We’re very keen to receive any feedback regarding the trial, so please email any comments or questions to library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk. Further updates will be provided when the machine is up and running! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postgrads: Book now for the Humanities Research Fair Mon 27 January 2-5pm

After last term’s cancellation, here is a reminder that bookings for the re-scheduled Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates are now open.

The Fair will take place on Monday 27 January 2-5pm, South School, Exam Schools, OX1 4BG (map).

This free event is an excellent opportunity for Humanities postgraduate students to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

In a single place you get to meet lots of experts at the same time. You can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools.

Secure your goody bag and book a place now.

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Humanities.

 

40+ stalls

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, SOLO, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)
  • Take part in the live historical printing with the Centre for the Study of the Book
  • Relax with a cup of tea at the Student Wellbeing stall and try your hand at fiendish Bodleian jigsaw puzzle

A series of talks on Digital Humanities will accompany the Fair.

If you have any enquiries, please email humanitiesresearchfair@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Trials: Border and Migration Studies Online / Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996

Our colleague Sarah Rhodes (International Development, Forced Migration, African and Commonwealth Subject Consultant, SSL) has arranged two trials which might be of interest to historians.

They can be accessed either via SOLO and searching for the database title, or via the Databases A-Z. To get full functionality you will first need to sign into SOLO with your Single Sign On (SSO).

Border and Migration Studies Online (Alexander Street) (trial until 5 Feb)

This resource provides historical context and resources, representing both personal and institutional perspectives, for the growing fields of border(land) studies and migration studies, as well as history, law, politics, diplomacy, area and global studies, anthropology, medicine, the arts, and more. At completion, the collection will include 100,000 pages of text, 175 hours of video, and 1,000 images. In collaboration with an international board of scholars, materials have been selected and organized around fundamental themes such as: Border Identities, enforcement and control; human trafficking; Undocumented migration; and Global Governance of migration. This database covers the 19th to the 21st centuries.

The geographical coverage includes borders in the North and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996 (Readex) (trial until 7 Feb)

For wide-ranging perspectives on human migration that stretch far beyond the borders of the United States, Immigrations, Migrations and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941-1996, is an unparalleled new resource. This fully searchable digital archive includes first-hand accounts from reputable sources around the world, covering such important events as post-World War II Jewish resettlement, South African apartheid, Latin American migrations to the United States and much more. The news and analysis is based on daily FBIS reports gathered between the early 1940s to the mid-1990s by a U.S. government organization that became part of the CIA, and also includes radio and television broadcasts, newspapers, periodicals and government documents.

Please direct feedback to sarah.rhodes@bodleian.ox.ac.uk by the end of January.

Related subscription resources:

New: Presidential Recordings Digital Addition

[re-blogged from Bethan Davies’ VHL Blog post of 13. Dec 2019.]

I am pleased to announce that the Vere Harmsworth Library, in partnership with the Social Science Library, have purchased online access to the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition for the University.

The Presidential Recordings Programme (PRP), was established by The Miller Center in 1998. Its aim was to make the previously secret taped conversations of six consecutive American Presidents (FDR to Richard Nixon) available for researchers. Covering historical events such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam and Watergate, the tapes offer “a unique and irreplaceable source for the study of U.S. history and American government.”

Previously, Oxford researchers could only access the curated transcripts hosted on the Miller Centre’s website. Now, through the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford researchers can access the Presidential Recordings Digital Edition (PRDE), the online portal for annotated transcripts of the White House tapes from the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon era. This includes a searchable database that allows full text searches for specific phrases and terms. It also includes options to filter search results based on dates, participants and topics. The PRDE is continually being updated with new transcripts and recordings, as they become available.

Similar Resources:

If you would like any advice on using our databases or resources, please contact the Vere Harmsworth Librarian, Bethan Davies bethan.davies@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Bodleian New History Books: December 2019 – Marginality

Bodleian New History Books: December 2019: Marginality

In a working paper on the root causes of extreme poverty, Gatzweiler et al. (2011) define marginality as “an involuntary position and condition of an individual or group at the margins of social, political, economic, ecological, and biophysical systems”. Any individual or subgroup located outside the predominant socio-economic, geographical or even biological systems of a society, or anyone who appears to deviate in any way from the perceived norms of the “mainstream” or “core group” of a population, may thus become marginalised, and subject to social exclusion.

The reasons for such marginalisation, social exclusion, and resulting alienation, are copious and varied, ranging from a person’s race, skin colour, and ethnic origin, to their religious affiliation, sexual preferences, educational status and social class, way of life, political opinion, physical appearance or bodily and mental health, all the way to age or gender. It thus affects groups as diverse as racial, ethnical or religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, the working class, drug users or sex workers, ex-convicts or institutional care leavers, people with a disability or simply divergent body shape, the elderly of both genders, or women of any age.

Individuals or groups affected by such social exclusion are prevented from participating fully in the economic, social, and political life of the society in which they live – in Dworkin and Dworkin’s Minority Report (1982) the two main characteristics of “identifiability” and “group awareness” of such societally marginalised minorities go hand in hand with two more characteristics of “differential power” and “differential and pejorative treatment”. However, continued pejorative treatment of a marginal or minority group by a society can also result in active opposition against such exclusion – in the form of protests, demonstrations or lobbying, or, in extreme cases, violent resistance, revolts, revolutions, and anarchism.

Minority studies have a firm place in both sociological and historical studies – for one, what exactly a society, whether contemporary or historical, considers its “mainstream” norms or “core groups”, as well as how it treats non-conformists, marginal groups, and outcasts, can be highly informative and enlightening for sociologists and historians. For another, there is a long overdue and welcome movement to acknowledge the importance – or, if you want, the centrality – of marginal groups for our understanding of history. With Black History Month (1st-31st October) just past, and Disability History Month (22nd November – 22nd December) ongoing, it seems certainly fitting to highlight in this month’s blog some of our new history books which discuss humans, whether individuals or groups, on the margins of historic societies – marginalised because of the state of their mind or body, because beliefs they hold are considered heretical and unorthodox, because of their gender, or because they do not fit (or want to fit) into a certain political or societal system.

Marginalities of Mind and Body

Throughout the course of history, sadly up to and including the 20th century, societies have for the most part not been kind to anyone with bodily or mental disabilities, or mental disorders. In Viewing Disability in Medieval Spanish Texts Connie L. Scarborough looks at examples of disability in relationship to legal precepts, medical knowledge, and especially theological teachings in Spanish medieval miracle narratives, hagiographies, didactic tales, and epic poetry. When viewed through the lens of religion, disabled individuals would usually be seen as “disgraced”, the disability viewed as an outward sign of inward corruption – but also occasionally as “graced”, when for example a miraculous cure showed evidence of divine intervention. A similar exception, where an unorthodox mental state translated into a “graced” rather than a “disgraced” state, exists in the case of medieval mystics such as the ultimately self-marginalised anchorite Julian of Norwich: Amy Laura Hall’s Laughing at the Devil examines Julian’s calls to scorn rather than fear the devil, thus fostering hope, solidarity, and resistance instead of dread in her contemporary audience.

A rather different treatment was accorded to those individuals with mental health issues who were inmates of the infamous Bedlam: London’s Hospital for the Mad over the first 700 years of its long history. Paul Chambers traces the hospital’s administrative, political, and medical  history from its founding in the 13th century through its popularity in the 17th, 18th and early 19th century to a modern institute of the NHS today. A final volume on the topic of marginalities of mind and body treats a group of individuals who are strictly speaking still marginalised due to “bodily differences” – Caroline Callard’s Le temps des fantômes tries to identify the place of the “corporeally challenged”, of ghosts or spirits, in the society of the Ancien Régime of the 16th and 17th centuries. Having survived the advent of natural philosophy, a belief in ghosts continued to form part of human existence both in everyday life and in scholarly and political discourse, forcing the living to engage with the dead – whether in order to banish unwanted hauntings, to communicate with deceased with valuable information, or even to encourage the continued presence of lost loved ones in their lives.

Marginalities in Science

Just as with unorthodox states of body or mind, unorthodox ideas have historically clashed with the norms of society – and innovations of science particularly have a long history of conflict with the teachings of established religions, resulting in the persecution, banishment, imprisonment, excommunication, or even execution of the scientists who promoted them.

Heliocentrism is a case in point – the nine essays in the collection Copernicus Banned thematise the causes, promotion, aftermath, and various philosophical, theological, political and cultural aspects of the discussions that arose around the decree issued by the Holy Office of the Catholic Church on 5 March 1616, which condemned De revolutionibus orbium caelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus 75 years after his death. Rather more directly affected by the decree was, 17 years later, another even more famous heliocentrist, whose nonconformist worldview similarly resulted in his societal marginalisation. The condemnation of Copernicanism is generally acknowledged to have been an essential element of the trial of Galileo Galilei, and the recent re-issue of Oppositori di Galileo, part of Antonio Favaro’s vast oeuvre, still offers the reader hints, insights and essential documents for the understanding of this fascinating figure more than a century after its first publication. Controversies and social exclusions arising from pushing the boundaries of medicine rather than astronomy in Reformation Germany are then discussed in Hannah Murphy’s A New Order of Medicine. Focus of her study are the careers of municipal physicians who practiced subversive anatomical experimentations, displacing apothecaries from their place at the forefront of medical practice, and establishing an elite medical order in the German city of Nuremberg.

Marginal Women

That living on the margins of, distanced, or largely closed off from society does not necessarily mean disempowerment is an issue raised by Steven Vanderputten in Dark Age Nunneries, which examines life and society in and around forty female monastic communities in Lotharingia in the years 800-1050. Vanderputten highlights the striving of these women for agency as religious communities, as well as for involvement in and influence over the attitudes and behaviours of the lay society around them. A similar struggle for female agency is documented by Lisa Hopkins in Women on the Edge in Early Modern Europe, which examines the lives of women whose gender impeded the exercise of their personal, political, and religious action, with an emphasis on the conflict that occurred when they crossed the restraints society placed on people of their gender – from the French chemist Marie Meurdrac, author of the women’s chemistry primer La chymie charitable et facile, en faveur des dames, to the alleged prophetess Anna Trapnell of 1650s England, to Queen Cecilia of Sweden.

Resistance against a denial of, and efforts to reclaim their political rights are also the issue for the women in Martine Lapied’s L’engagement politique des femmes dans le sud-est de la France de l’Ancien Régime à la Révolution. Lapied examines material from Provençal and Comtadine archives and local historiography to asses the role of women in public spaces in both Old Regime and after the turning point of the Revolution, when women patriots started to assert themselves and participate in the Revolution as well as in the politics of the Terror. Marginalized French women are also the subject of Patricia Tilburg’s Working Girls, which discusses female labourers in the garment trade of fin de siècle Paris, who faced political and sexual subordination. The working lives of these women, from the romanticised haute couture workers called midinettes to the over 80,000 real working women and their demands for better labour conditions, are vividly illustrated by primary sources ranging from letters to speeches, from union meeting minutes to travel guides, and from policy briefs to popular songs.

Marginalities in politics and society

Marginalisation through one’s position within a political system means being pushed to those margins through the neglect or disregard of those in political power – and occasionally taking arms against a sea of troubles through passive or active opposition against the system.

The essays collected in A Global History of Runaways discuss groups marginalised by race and geography as well as class and social status, but unwilling to tolerate this marginalisation and resulting enforced labour: slaves, indentured servants, convicts, domestic workers, soldiers, and sailors challenged the new economic order of emerging Capitalism by running away from their masters and bosses in the British, Danish, Dutch, French, Mughal, Portuguese, and American empires from 1600 to 1850. From escaped convicts in the Danish West Indies and Australia, to deserters in Bengal, French Louisiana and the Dutch East India Company, the essays chart the consequences of these movements for larger political events such as undermining Danish colonization in the 17th century, or igniting the American civil war in the 19th. More resistance by a marginalised group against the established political system, though here extreme and violent, is the topic of Nunzio Pernicone’s and Fraser Ottanelli’s Assassins against the Old Order. The authors chart the historical, social, cultural, and political conditions behind the phenomenon of anarchist violence in Italy around the turn of the 20th century. In an effort to expose the myth and discredit the exaggerated, demonic image of the anarchist assassin in the popular stereotype of an “Italian” armed with a bloody knife or revolver and driven to violence by a combination of radical politics, madness, innate criminality, and poor genes, Pernicone and Ottanelli strive to paint a rather more accurate picture of the intellectual origins, milieu, and nature of Italian anarchist violence with vivid portraits of some of the major players of the movement.

Suppression of marginal groups through exclusion from political debate, and their eventual demarginalisation through political re-engagement, is the topic of Sarah Haßdenteufel’s Neue Armut, Exklusion, Prekarität. The study raises the issue of the disappearance of poverty not in real life, but as a topic of political debate in the wake of economic growth in Germany and France in the second half of the 20th century, and with this disappearance the exclusion of citizens marginalised by poverty from the social and political agenda. Only after around 1970s the issue of “new poverty” despite the expansion of the welfare state, and its causes and possible remedies, re-enters political discussion, and Haßdenteufel analyses the semantics used and the idea of poverty and the poor presented in this new debate of a long-neglected topic. The final volume I would like to highlight in this blog deals with individuals marginalised and neglected by history, historians and historiography – in Vies oubliées Arlette Farge rediscovers these “forgotten lives” from snippets of information in archives ignored and rejected by historians, using these snapshots to reconstruct the social, emotional and political lives of priests, policemen, women, workers, servants, and artisans from the margins of history in 18th-century France, and revealing images of the human body at work or in pain, the human mind in care and in revolt, and words of love and desire, violence and compassion.

You can find more books on the topic on our virtual bookshelf on LibraryThing tagged with “marginalitiy” or “minorities“.

Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates (Mon. 27 January 2-5pm)

We are pleased to announce that bookings are now being taken for the Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates which will take place on Monday 27 January 2-5pm, South School, Exam Schools, OX1 4BG (map).

This free event is an excellent opportunity for Humanities postgraduate students to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

In a single place you get to meet lots of experts at the same time. You can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools.

Secure your goody bag and book a place now.

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Humanities.

 

40+ stalls

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)
  • Take part in the live historical printing with the Centre for the Study of the Book
  • Relax with a cup of tea at the Student Wellbeing stall and try your hand at fiendish Bodleian jigsaw puzzle

A series of talks on Digital Humanities will accompany the Fair.

If you have any enquiries, please email humanitiesresearchfair@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This event is kindly sponsored by

Bodleian New History Books: November 2019 – Into the 21st Century

Bodleian New History Books: November 2019 – Into the 21st Century

When do contemporary affairs become “history”?

“The increase in the velocity of history means, among other things, that the ‘present’ becomes the ‘past’ more swiftly than ever before.” Thus the American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in his address to the American Historical Association – in 1967. Schlesinger ascribes the reason for this acceleration of the rate the world is changing to human innovation:

“The transformations wrought by science and technology have acquired a cumulative momentum and an exponential effect, rushing us along by geometric, not arithmetic, progression.”

If this exponential effect of change through technology and science, and the resulting increase in the “velocity of history”, was thus a concern already at his time, at not even three quarters through the 20th century, over a decade before the invention of the internet, a good quarter of a century before email and the WWW started being used widely, and forty years before the first iPhone hit the market – how much more so do we need to be concerned about it in our age of almost daily technological innovations, ubiquitous smartphones, and especially readily available online newspapers and reporters’ blogs and tweets?

Both reporting and analytical writing can already hardly keep up with events as they happen – and at what point do “journalism”, “comment” and “analysis” become “historical writing”? Undeniably, “contemporary history” ends with the present – but by the time the historian’s analysis of events is concluded, never mind by the time their book or article is ready for publication and accessible to the public, the present has long since become the past. Trying to write the history of the present is a futile endeavour – Michael Burleigh’s 2017 book The best of times, the worst of times: a history of now, where today this “now” is already over two years out of date, clearly shows the hazard of including words like “now”, “to the present”, “contemporary”, or “recent” in the title of any history book. It is no wonder that even the most “contemporary” module in “modern history” offered by the Faculty of History here at Oxford only covers events up to and including the year 2000.

Contemporary historical writings, or the writing of contemporary history, can thus not really reflect the information explosion we have experienced since the beginning of the 21st century – SOLO lists over 8,000 physical items and over 10,000 electronic resources with the combined subjects of “21st century” and “history”. This may sound impressive, but is really not all that much compared to the nearly 120,000 books on the history of the 20th century (even if you take into account that the 21st century is so far only a fifth as long as the 20th century has been). This imbalance is certainly reflected in the new books on the subject of 21st century history that have arrived at the Bodleian over the last year: our LibraryThing tag page for “21st century” contains a mere 66 titles, only 44 of which were added since January 2019 – as compared to 1426 titles tagged with “20th century”, with 474 new books arrived since the beginning of the year.

But even among the books tagged with 21st-century history, only very few deal exclusively with events in the 21st century. Some exceptions are Beatrice Heuser’s Brexit in History, Peter Frankopan’s The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World, or Deported to Death: How Drug Violence is Changing Migration on the US-Mexico Border by Jeremy Slack. The majority of books tagged with “21st century”, however, are also tagged with “20th century”, “19th century”, “18th century” or even all the way back to “17th century” and “16th century”. Many of these volumes are expressly written or published on the occasion of some anniversary of the past events or subject they discuss, whether a semicentennial as in Ken M. Wharton’s Torn Apart: Fifty Years of the Troubles, 1969-2019, a centenary as in Paul Beaver’s The Royal Air Force: The First One Hundred Years, or even three centuries as in Rainer Vollkommer’s 1719 – 2019, 300 Jahre Fürstentum Liechtenstein.

A number of the new books on the shelves this November similarly cover events leading up to and including the 21st century, alongside a few which discuss exclusively 21st -century history, and books from both these categories are the volumes I would like to highlight in this month’s blog.

Two of the new books deal with truly contemporary social issues in Europe. Romaric Godin’s La guerre sociale en France examines issues of the neoliberal movement, capitalism, democracy, and authority, and Emmanuel Macron’s striving, and failing, to balance economics and social pressures in 2019 France. Jay Rosselini’s The German New Right takes on a similarly serious social crisis in Germany, the populist movement that rejects cosmopolitanism, globalisation and multiculturalism, and values tradition over innovation and change, and thus gave rise to such organisations as the Alternative für Deutschland (AFD) political party and the citizens’ group of “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” (PEGIDA). Rosselini’s book aims to provide a portrait of both individuals and organisations, with a focus on cultural (rather than political) issues and figures that play a role in this movement, placing the New Right in the context of truly contemporary German culture and history.

Two further volumes recently arrived look back over a few centuries in charting a development from the further past to the (almost) present. In Les Noirs en France du 18ème siècle à nos jours Macodou Ndiaye and Florence Alexis provide a history of black people in France from the first arrivals in the 18th century through the French Revolution and its struggle with the issue of the abolition of slavery, and then looking further afield to the revolt in Santo Domingo that led to the creation of the Black Republic of Haiti and the emancipation of the French West Indies. Moving into the 20th century they discuss the arrival of black Americans in France, the participation of black soldiers in the French army in the two World Wars, and the post-war years with their emancipation movements of Africans and West Indians, and the immigration policies of de Gaulle and of today. Portuguese history from the 19th century to the present day is covered by Nuno Severiano Teixeira in The Portuguese at War, which presents an overview of the conflicts, wars and revolutions in which Portugal was involved during that period. In this the volume covers issues from the Napoleonic invasions to the civil wars of the early 19th century, from participation in the First World War to neutrality in the Second during the 20th century, and from the country’s place in the NATO to peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, East Timor, Lebanon and Afghanistan in the 21st century.

Looking back no more than 70 and 50 years respectively are the final two volumes I would like to introduce in this month’s blog. Following on from his 2015 book To Hell and Back, which charts the developments of Europe through the two World Wars from 1914 to 1949, Ian Kershaw’s Roller-Coaster: Europe, 1950-2017 looks at the vastly more peaceful and prosperous Europe that followed the wars. Kershaw discusses Europe’s transformation through economic improvements, though still under shadow of the war years to its life under the nuclear threat from both USA and USSR in the Cold War, through to the disbandment of the Soviet bloc and the reunification of Germany and finally to the years post-2008 after which peace and stability were brought into question again. Last but not least, Now and Then: England 1970-2015 by documentary photographer Daniel Meadows accompanies the exhibition of still photographs and moving images from the Bodleian Archives that were on display at the Weston Library from 4 October to 24 November, capturing 45 years of the life of England’s ordinary people. The volume contains samples of the full range of Meadows’ documentary projects over his 45-year career, with both portraits of the English people and the work they did. Including many now long-forgotten trades such as the engineer for a steam driven cotton mill and the steeplejack, and with a number of striking returns to people he had photographed 20 years earlier, it is a fascinating display of the differences and similarities between England Then and Now.

You can find all of the books tagged with “21st century” on our LibraryThing tag page here.

Vacation Loans start Monday!

Just a quick notification that winter vacation loans start on Monday 2nd December – borrow up to 15 books. Your limit increases to 20 books on Thursday 5th December and will include Short Loans. Everything will be due back on Monday 20th January (1st Week).

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you decide you’d like to combine your mince pies with some festive reading, you can access access many of our resources electronically. Use your Single Sign On to make use of a range of ebookejournal and database subscriptions while away from Oxford.