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2017 book The best of times, the worst of times: a history of now, where today this “now” is already over two years out of date, clearly shows the hazard of including words like “now”, “to the present”, “contemporary”, or “recent” in the title of any history book.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.

Trials until 30 November 2019: World War I and Revolution in Russia, 1914-1918: Records of the British Foreign Office / Alexander III and the Policy of “Russification,” 1883-1886

Our colleague Angelina Gibson, Slavonic and Eurasian Subject Consultant, has arranged trials to two Russian history resources which are now accessible via SOLO and Databases A-Z.

World War I and Revolution in Russia, 1914-1918: Records of the British Foreign Office

This resource provides access to a collection of documents from the British Foreign Office reporting on Russia’s entry into the First World War and the Russian Revolution events in 1917-1918. The documents consist primarily of correspondence between the British Foreign Office, various British missions and consulates in the Russian Empire and the Tsarist government and later the Provisional Government.

Alexander III and the Policy of “Russification,” 1883-1886

This collection, as seen through the eyes of the British diplomatic corps in Russia, provides a unique analysis of this “retro-reform” policy, including the increase of revolutionary agitation, deepening of conservatism and changes from agrarian to industrial society, and spread of pan-Slavism, both in the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe. The British Foreign Office Records of General Correspondence for Russia, in record class F.O. 65, is the basic collection of documents for studying Anglo-Russian relations during this period of fundamental change.

The trials end on 30 November. Please send comments to angelina.gibson@bodleian.ox.ac.uk and alexander.morrison@new.ox.ac.uk.

New Bodleian History Books: October 2019 – Historiography

New Bodleian History Books: October 2919 – Historiography

The early modern understanding of the term “historiography”, attested in the OED from 1565, is simply as “the writing of history” or “written history”, and the title or role of “historiographer” simply as “historian” – or even as “official historian”, in evidence for example in the title of “Historiographer Royal of Scotland” which is still in existence today.

The modern sense of “historiography” as we understand it today, attested in the OED with quotations from 1889, is, of course, more specifically as “the study of history-writing…as an academic discipline” – in the broadest sense of the term historiography deals with the writing of history. It is “meta-history”, the study of the history of history, as well as of the historians who wrote this history, and of the principles and techniques of the writing (and studying) of history – historiography does not study so much the events of the past as the different interpretations of those events as presented by earlier historians, or the different methods used by these historians to present their version of historical events.

With this definition in mind, a number of different types of studies can be subsumed under the heading of “historiography”, from editions and translations of historical accounts to collections of critical essays on a specific topic or time period or country; from studies of a historian’s methods to biographies of influential historians; and last but not least the classic “histories of history” which try to offer a condensed yet comprehensive account of a historical discipline (e.g. social or economic history) or of the history of a country or region – or even of the history of the world. This month’s blog introduces some of the newly arrived Bodleian books which can be classified as “historiography” in this wider sense.

Historiographical sources

In the study of how historians write history, editions and translations of historical accounts have a definite place. Whether these are records of contemporary history or biographies of their great contemporaries by past historians, or maybe personal diaries and letters which comment on current affairs and how these are presented in contemporary records, or collections or translations of modern historical studies on a given topic – all of these can be looked at as different forms of historiographical sources.

Some contemporary biographical writing from the Italian 15th century is newly edited and translated in Lives of the Milanese Tyrants, which contains two biographies by the Milanese humanist Pier Candido Decembrio (1399–1477), secretary and envoy to the bizarre and powerful Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. Pier Candido’s masterpiece of Renaissance biography, based on decades of direct experience at the Duke’s court, is here followed by his fascinating account of the deeds of Visconti’s successor Francesco Sforza, the most successful mercenary captain of the Renaissance. Similar eyewitness accounts of a historian close to royalty can be found in an edition of the Mémoires de l’abbé de Foncemagne – Étienne Lauréault de Foncemagne (1694- 1779) frequented the Parisian salons of the 18th century and was a member of both the Académie française and the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. Friend of Edward Gibbon and author of essays on topics ranging from French royal history and the Salic Law to a Dissertation préliminaire sur la Cuisine moderne, he was a tutor to the future Duke of Orléans (one of the wealthiest men in France, the Louis Philippe later known as Philippe Égalité) and thus in a prime position to give a detailed portrait of the man.

The disparity between personal, recorded memories of historic events, and their official representation (including their distortion, censoring, or omission) are the subject of two further volumes arrived newly at the Bodleian. The proceedings of a 2013-15 research seminar in Brest published as Mémoires de la Révolution française advertise themselves as dealing with “epistemological issues, historiographical milestones and unpublished examples” on the topic of the French Revolution. The contributions focus on the difference between memory of the past (“the activity of more or less faithfully encoding and restituting data”) and history (which they define as offering “a verifiable account of the past”), thematize of the production, maintenance, or occlusion of such memories and how they might present “history”, and explore the diversity of international historiographies of the period. Differences between personal memory or records, and official versions of historical events, here in the contemporary press, are also a focus in the third volume of the collected diaries of Hélène Hoppenot, Journal 1940-1944 (with the previous two volumes containing the diaries of the years 1918-1933 and 1936-1940 respectively). As the wife of the French diplomat Henri Hoppenot, stationed variously in Uruguay, Brussels, and the US, Hélène Hoppenot was in an excellent position to record firsthand experiences of the Vichy government, the rise of Charles de  Gaulle, the events of D-Day, and the Liberation of Paris, and she stresses her efforts in trying to faithfully record words heard and things seen behind the scenes before finding them misrepresented or even repressed by journalists with a specific political agenda.

Finally, a true collection of historiographical sources can be found in Florin Curta’s 2-volume Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages (500-1300), which sets out to remedy the fact that only around 11% of the historiographical literature published on the medieval history of Eastern Europe is in English – in its translations of seminal historiographical writings from 10 different languages into English it provides a comprehensive summary on the existing literature that would be otherwise inaccessible due to linguistic barriers, presenting an overview of the current state of research as well as an introductory bibliography in English.

Historians as Authors

Two of the new books arrived over the last couple of months at the Bodleian deal with the historian as an author, and with the issue of authorial self-consciousness, or self-affirmation, in the work of recording events of the past or present.

To shed new light on the authorial figures of ancient and medieval historians “Je, auteur de ce livre” by Cristian Bratu discusses authorial self-representations and self-promotion strategies in the works of historians from Antiquity to the later Middle Ages, from the emergence of the author in the Greek and Roman histories to the not exactly self-effacing vernacular French medieval historians of the 12th to 15th centuries. Following on where Bratu leaves off, the collection on La construction de la personne dans le fait historique focuses on the authorial figure in historical writings from the 16th to the 18th century. The studies collected here thematize once more the tension between memory and historical record, but also the awareness that as a political actor as well as a historian one’s historical narratives shape the image of the self which one leaves to posterity – whether in the historian’s conscious inscription of the self in history or, on the other hand, their attempts to erase or distance themselves from events.

Histories of Historians

As it is the study not only of the history of history, but of the historians who wrote this history, we can include a number of biographies of eminent historians as belonging among the new historiography books at the Bodleian.

The first of four new studies features the influential 19th century French historian and founder of modern historical practice Jules Michelet (1798-1874). Michèle Hannoosh examines the role of art writing in Michelet’s work and shows how the visual arts, at the very centre of Michelet’s conception of historiography, decisively influenced his theory of history and his view of the practice of the historian. The historian who is subject of the second study is situated at the tail-end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century: Thomas Frederick Tout (1855–1929), one of the most prolific English medieval historians of his time. This book presents biographical studies dealing with Tout’s early career and his work at Manchester University, examine his wide-ranging influence on the study of history, and discuss Tout’s life and writings, his political and academical influence, and his lasting legacy on our understanding of the Middle Ages.

Moving into the later 20th century, Raul Hilberg und die Holocaust-Historiographie is dedicated to one of the first and foremost historians on the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews of Europe. The volume collects papers from the 2017 conference in Berlin held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Hilberg’s death, and the contributions range from a critical appraisal of Hilberg’s pioneering 1961 study The Destruction of the European Jews to biographical sketches, discussions of ethical questions raised in his work, and the impact of Hilberg’s work on the study of the Holocaust in our century. Historians of the post-World War II era are also the subject of No Straight Path, which presents first-person accounts of the careers of ten successful female historians in a predominantly male-dominated professional world. Starting from college and public-school teaching, or marriage and motherhood, and making the unusual decision (at the time) to move beyond high-school teaching and attend graduate school, the experiences of these historians from the southern United States are varied and distinctive in their respective paths to become a member or even chair of the History Department at the University of Memphis, or Professor for History at Tulane University. The authors discuss the issues they faced including gender inequality and problems with their work/home balance, but also their role models on the path of becoming professional female historians.

Meta-History

Somewhat shorter than John Burrow’s comprehensive 2007 study A History of Histories, and also than his own 2012 A Global History of History, Daniel Woolf’s new 2019 publication A Concise History of History is meant as an introduction for those studying or teaching historical theory and method, or historiography. Keeping to the promise of its subtitle to be a “global historiography from antiquity to the present” despite its conciseness, it contains a number of helpful features designed to assist in making sense of the vastness of human history such as timelines listing major dynasties or regimes throughout the world, outlines of historiographical developments, or guides to key thinkers and seminal historical works. Its chapters cover topic such as the earliest historical writings, the history of Eurasia to the 15th century, the sense of the past in early modern and Renaissance history, the impact of imperialism and sciences on historiography in the 18th and 19th centuries, historical writing in the 20th century, and a look at new, future directions of historiography.

This final topic is also discussed for a more specialist section of historical studies in New Directions in Social and Cultural History. Leading historians in the field here reflect on what it means to be a social or cultural historian today; muse on what challenges and opportunities await historians in the early 21st century in this age of digital and public history; discuss key developments and important shifts and interventions in the theory and methodology in their fields; and suggest future developments and emerging areas of historical research, providing a comprehensive overview of the field for any student or scholar of social and cultural history and historiography.

You can find more books on the subject on our online LibraryThing shelf tagged with”historiography“.

Trial until 27 Nov: Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939

Oxford historians are now invited to trial Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939 (British Online Archives) which is available via SOLO and Databases A-Z.

The Paris Peace Conference was a meeting of Allied diplomats that took place in the aftermath of the First World War. Its purpose was to impose peace terms on the vanquished Central Powers and establish a new international order.

This online resource draws on material chiefly from The National Archives: FO 373 (Foreign Office: Peace Conference; Handbooks): FO 608 (Foreign Office: Peace Conference; British Delegation, Correspondence and Papers); FO 893 (Foreign Office: Ambassadors to the Peace Conference, 1919; Minutes of Proceedings); CAB 29/139 (Cabinet Office: International Conferences; Minutes and Papers; Lausanne Conference, 1932).

These Foreign Office records for the first time offer an emphatic and comprehensive coverage of the various peace treaties signed at the end of the First World War. The Treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain, Sèvres, Trianon, Neuilly and Lausanne are all covered in great depth. They collectively saw to the redrawing of boundaries, the stripping back of German military might and the effective end of the Ottoman Empire.

These records are supplemented by the personal papers of Robert Cecil and Arthur Balfour – held at the British Library – both of whom played prominent roles during the course of the Conference.

Explore how the Allied Powers scrambled to create a diplomatic epilogue to ‘the war to end all wars’. This resource will interest those researching: The First World War, The Second World War, Inter-War International Governance, International Relations, Peace-making, Colonialism, 20th Century, War, Diplomacy, and Politics.

Please send feedback to isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Useful subject searches in SOLO: Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) or World War, 1914-1918 — Reparations.

While you are here…

… did you know that the Bodleian has The Papers of Richard Meinerzhagen (1878-1967)? He was on Balfour’s staff at the Paris Peace Conference.

Portable DVD drives available for loan!

In response to reader feedback, we’re pleased to announce that we now have two portable DVD drives available for loan. History students may be particularly interested in using these to consult items from the HFL DVD collection. The devices are quick and easy to use, compatible with most operating systems, and can be issued for two days (plus one online renewal). Please let us know if you have any feedback – we’re always looking to improve access to our collections.

New sit-stand desks in the Upper Gladstone Link

We are currently trialling two ergonomic desk devices in the Upper Gladstone Link that allow readers to adjust their position to either sit or stand at their work space. The WorkFit-Z mini is adapted to hold one of our Reader PCs, whilst the Opløft facilitates materials, such as books, notepads and laptops, to be raised to varying heights.

We’re interested in hearing any reader feedback on the benefits or disadvantages of these devices in helping you study. Please let a member of staff know your views!

The location of the devices is indicated on the map below:

Trial until 29 Nov 2019: Bloomsbury Medieval Studies

Oxford medievalists are invited to trial Bloomsbury Medieval Studies.

This is a new interdisciplinary digital resource with a global perspective covering the medieval period. It brings together high-quality secondary content with visual primary sources, a new reference work and pedagogical resources into one cross-searchable platform, to support students and researchers across this rich field of study.

Specifically, the resource contains over 150 scholarly works (incl. primary texts, research monographs, companions) which have been published by Bloomsbury and other publishers such as IB Tauris, Arc Humanities Press, Amsterdam University Press.

It also contains a newly published reference work (The Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Age) and over a 1000 images sourced from collections in the British Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Senate House Library (London).

The trial ends on 29 November 2019. Feedback should be sent to isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Dyslexia, Visual Stress, and Accessibility Equipment

#DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019

At the History Faculty Library, we’re very keen to create the best possible environment for learning and research.

So, to celebrate #DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019 and the neurodiversity of our readers, here is a guide to our accessibility equipment and how it could help if you are dyslexic, experience visual stress, or have any other barriers to learning.

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?

Dyslexia is diagnosed differently across the world and there are many different hypothesized causes. As it is currently understood in the UK, however, dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that exists on a continuum and frequently overlaps with other types of learning difficulties or disabilities.[1] Professor Margaret J. Snowling, author of the newly published Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction and president of St John’s College, defines dyslexia as ‘a problem with learning which primarily affects the development of reading accuracy and fluency and spelling skills’, though it can also cause problems with speech. It affects phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.[2]

Poor spelling, slow reading and writing speeds, confusing similar letters (like ‘b’ and ‘d’) or your left and right, along with visual stress (discussed below), are all well-known signs of dyslexia. Some of the lesser-known difficulties that affect students at university-level, however, involve more systemic differences in structural thinking. These can make organization and time management, writing and structuring essays, note taking, remembering the right words in tutorial discussions, and finding your way around Oxford University’s many libraries a challenge.

Yet dyslexic ways of thinking can equally result in brilliant insights, creativity, and excellent pattern recognition. Though dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder, it has little to do with education or general intelligence, and affects people of all ages and abilities in diverse ways. A holistic approach and a fair amount of experimentation are therefore required to find out what helps to overcome these difficulties and for dyslexic students to reach their potential.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Friendly librarians and library assistants are always on hand in the History Faculty Library and Bodleian Libraries to show you how things work, help with shelf-marks, retrieve books and find resources. There is no such thing as a silly question!

We also have a variety of accessibility equipment so you can access the resources you need to learn.

Who can use accessibility equipment?

Anyone! If you think you’ll find it helpful, you may use any of the equipment, no questions asked.

What’s available and where can I find it?

Here’s a list of what we have available and where to find it. The equipment can be used anywhere in the Radcliffe Camera or Gladstone Link as long as it’s returned to its original location when you’ve finished using it.

WHAT IS VISUAL STRESS?

Visual stress’, also known as Meares/Irens Syndrome, is a common symptom of dyslexia. Yet not everyone with dyslexia experiences visual stress, and many who do not have dyslexia, do. It’s also a symptom of a whole host of other associated learning difficulties, disabilities, and illnesses that include attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), headaches and migraines, and traumatic brain injuries. Visual stress is a perceptual processing disorder thought to be caused by the way some brains process certain frequencies of light.

What is it like?

Those of us with visual stress interpret regular black lines of text on a white page a bit differently, resulting in perceptual distortions. Serif fonts like Times New Roman make it worse, as do particular colours. When I look at a page of text, for example, it can seem like things are moving in the corners of my vision and white ‘rivers’ constantly emerge from the patterns between the words and lines. I know that these distortions ‘aren’t real’, but my brain interprets the neural data from my eyes in this peculiar way regardless. The same phenomenon occurs with other regular high-contrast patterns like narrow stripes. It reminds me of the way TV screens sometimes appear on film with flickering lines rolling across them. In all, the blurring, double vision, and glare from the white page caused by visual stress present an extra barrier to absorbing and understanding a text and can lead to poor comprehension, eye strain, fatigue, headaches and migraines. It can be particularly unbearable if you are already tired.

What helps? Colour!

Though visual stress does not cause the cognitive problems that you might face if you are dyslexic, relieving this symptom can help with fatigue and aid focus.

Coloured acetate sheets can dampen perceptual distortions by reducing the sharp contrast between the white of the page and black of the text. These transparent plastic sheets can be simply laid over the page you are reading. It is a myth that these ‘cure’ dyslexia, but lots of people report that they do alleviate visual stress.[3] A range of colours are available upon request at the staff desk in the Lower Camera, so if you think these might help, don’t hesitate to ask.

The History Faculty Library also has a variety of coloured paper to use in the printers for the same reasons, as well as coloured reading rulers that help stop your eyes wandering from the line that you want to read. Both are available on request. If you are reading from a screen, try changing the background colour of the document or reducing the brightness and enlarging the size of the text.

Other Assistive Equipment

Brain ‘fog’, procrastination, poor focus, and fatigue are also common challenges for dyslexic readers, so it is important to minimise distractions, support good posture, and make studying as comfortable as possible. Ergonomic equipment is available in the Lower Camera and Upper Gladstone Link to focus your attention and keep you comfortable. The History Faculty Library has ergonomic chairs, foot stools, book stands, and height adjustable desks for standing or sitting.

Daylight lamps at these desks can help prevent eyestrain, and a magnifier is available on request for texts with tiny fonts or help if you are visually impaired.

Ear plugs are available to muffle distracting sounds and if you find these uncomfortable, try listening to white noise tracks on a loop. There are also quiet laptop-free areas on the Gallery in the Upper Camera.

Height Adjustable Desks in the Lower Camera

How do I get further support?

More information about the History Faculty Library’s Services for Disabled readers can be found here. There are many more ways that the University can give support if you are dyslexic that are not discussed here, so if you haven’t already, head to the University’s Disability Advisory Service to find out more.

We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions about how the History Faculty Library can support you, so come and talk to us in person or email us at radcam-enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

HFL Disability Contact: rachel.darcy-brown@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Radcliffe Camera Gladstone Link Disability Contact: lyn.jones@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

LINKS AND RESOURCES 

Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (An independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, June 2009).

British Dyslexia Association’s website.

University of Oxford’s History of Dyslexia Project.

Watch Professor Maggie Snowling’s British Academy lecture on ‘Dyslexia: An Impairment of Language Learning’.

Notes

[1] Sir Jim Rose’s independent review for the UK government in 2009 defined dyslexia using the best evidence and remediation practises. It is still widely accepted today. It is worth noting that a discrepancy between ‘IQ-reading skill and actual reading level’ is no longer accepted as a diagnostic-criteria for dyslexia. See Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (2009) <https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/14790/7/00659-2009DOM-EN_Redacted.pdf>.

[2] Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2019), 1.

[3] Despite the widespread acceptance of coloured lenses as a treatment for dyslexia, there is little evidence that specifically tailored colours for each person are required to gain the calming benefit of coloured overlays. Nevertheless, Professor John Stein’s research suggests that blue and yellow overlays may be most helpful. Read about his research here.

 

New discovery tool to search Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts

[Re-blogged from the Bodleian Libraries’ announcement]

The Bodleian Libraries have today released Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts https://archives.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/, providing access to the Bodleian’s world-renowned collection of archives and manuscripts on a new, user-friendly site.

The resource is in beta and researchers are encouraged to give feedback.

Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts is a new interface which revolutionizes the discoverability of archives. Whereas previously descriptions of archives and manuscripts were available in separate online catalogues, they’ve now been brought together into one site.

https://archives.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts currently includes descriptions for approximately 100,000 boxes of archival material collected by the Bodleian Libraries, dating from c. 1500 to the 21st century. Material described is predominantly in manuscript form, but the collections also contain large amounts of photographic material, audiovisual items, and born-digital content. Over the next 12 months Bodleian Libraries staff will continue to add to Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts, incorporating some of the Bodleian’s most important published catalogues – the Summary and New Summary Catalogues.

The predecessor to Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts, the Online Catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts, will remain available until early January 2020 at which point we will switch over to Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts fully, and decommission the Libraries’ old Online Catalogues platform.

For more information and an FAQ about Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts visit the public FAQ document.

While you are here…

The online catalogue for Medieval archives and manuscripts held in the Bodleian Libraries is available at https://medieval.bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

A guide to finding aids for Bodleian Libraries’ oriental archival collections is in the LibGuide for Oriental Manuscripts.

Administrative records of the University of Oxford are part of the Oxford University Archives.