Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual campaign aiming to combat stigma and promote understanding of mental health running from 13th to 19th May. At the History Faculty Library, we have put together a display on the history of mental health, featuring books that shed light on the struggles individuals have faced with their mental and behavioural health and the evolution of attitudes towards mental illness throughout history. It also includes works on the history of emotions, exploring how humans have expressed and understood their complex feelings over time.

As well as physical books, we also have a variety of e-books and e-journals which explore these issues. When signed into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’, the following e-resources will be available for Oxford University Members—click on the covers below to access their SOLO records.

 The Oxford handbook of the history of psychology global perspectives Madness in civilization by Andrew Scull  Madness cracked by Mick Power Voices in the history of madness : personal and professional perspectives on mental health and illness From Melancholia to Depression : Disordered Mood in Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry by Asa Jansson Anxiety : A Philosophical History by Bettina Bergo The Routledge history of madness and mental health Our minds, our selves : a brief history of psychology by Keith Oatley

Many more e-resources and physical books can be found on SOLO when searching “Mental illness — History“. Check out the Bodleian mental illness history LibGuide for further resources (including specific resources on depression and PTSD).

Please follow these links for information about Bodleian Libraries Wellbeing Sessions and the Student Welfare and Wellbeing webpages!

Earth Month 2024

Earth Month takes place during April every year, with Earth Day falling on 22 April. First held in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG’s annual campaign aims to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide”, and focuses this year on Planet vs. Plastics. Since the 1960s and 70s, more and more historians have been asking how previous generations used and inhabited their own environments, how the environment has shaped human history, and how people in the past dealt with ecological crises such as those we are facing today. At the History Faculty Library, we have put up a display of books that cover environmental history from recycling in the eighteenth century to slavery in the American South.

As well as physical books, we have lots of e-resources on the topic of environmental history across the world. These are available online to Oxford University members on SOLO – just make sure you’re signed on with your ‘Single Sign-On’. Click on the book cover below to access the SOLO record. Many more e-resources and physical books can be found on SOLO by searching for ‘environmental history’ or by following the links above.

When smoke ran like water : tales of environmental deception and the battle against pollution Ecological imperialism : the biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900 The Oxford handbook of environmental history Global environmental history : 10,000 BC to AD 2000 Environment and history (journal) Environmental history (journal) An environmental history of the Middle Ages : the crucible of nature From the Ground Up : Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement

Taylor and Francis Humanities and Social Sciences ebooks 2016-2025

Readers have been severely impacted by the British Library outage and the loss of access to electronic legal deposit material. To support our readers, Bodleian Libraries have set up an ebook deal with Taylor & Francis EBA (access until 30 December 2025).

Taylor & Francis (including the Routledge imprint) is by the largest depositor of Non Print Legal Deposit (NPLD also known as eLD) material, with over 124,000 items held in the currently inaccessible British Library repository. Calculations from NPLD usage statistics from 2016-June 2023 show that T&F is also the most heavily used publisher (over 30,000 title accesses). Content, usage and requests fall predominantly in the subject areas of Humanities and Social Sciences.

An evidence-based acquisitions (EBA) package for the “missing” NPLD content from Taylor and Francis was decided to be the single most effective measure to mitigate the effect of the BL outage, which has had a far greater impact on monographs and edited collections, in comparison to journal holdings, where our subscriptions and R&P deals have largely covered the effects of the outage.

The new EBA for 2016-2025 (running until end 2025, and adding new content on publication) provide coverage for most currently missing titles and for the anticipated delay in restoring ingest of new publications.

Access has been turned on for current content and the individual records have been added to SOLO. Current content is just over 30,000 ebooks, splitting 60:40 between Social Sciences and Humanities. By the end of the subscription (December 2025), Oxford will have had access to over 35,000 titles.

At the end of the agreement, the libraries can select titles for perpetual access to the value of the deal, with a 17% uplift). Selections will be carried by library staff, with the benefit of the usage statistics during the period of the deal, to inform choices on permanent retentions.

While you are here:

Women’s History Month 2024

As it’s now March, the History Faculty Library is celebrating Women’s History Month! This annual campaign is a chance to celebrate and remember women’s contributions to history, culture and society, with International Women’s Day falling on 8 March. Many institutions in Oxford and around the world, including the Ashmolean Museum, will be highlighting women’s stories to inspire us all year round. Check out more IWD events in Oxford here, including the 35th Oxford International Women’s Festival.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion. At the History Faculty Library, we’ve put together a diverse display showcasing women’s histories from around the world.

LGBT+ History Month display on four shelves. Left to right: 'Women intellectuals and leaders in the Middle Ages', 'Why they marched : untold stories of the women who fought for the right to vote', 'A herstory of economics', 'Woman : the American history of an idea', 'The century of women : how women have transformed the world since 1900', 'Uncontrollable women : radicals, reformers and revolutionaries', 'Women in world history', 'Writing women's history since the renaissance', 'A black women's history of the United States', 'Vanguard : how black women broke barriers, won the vote, and insisted on equality for all', 'A lesbian history of Britain : love and sex between women since 1500', 'Public faces, secret lives : a queer history of the women's suffrage movement', 'Women of Westminster : the MPs who changed politics', 'Women in the history of science : a sourcebook', 'No straight path : becoming women historians'.

Please do take a look at the display the next time you’re in the Camera, or check out some of our e-books and e-journals exploring women’s histories below. These are available online for Oxford University members – just make sure you sign into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’ first. Click on the book cover below to access the SOLO record.

 How Women Became Poets : A Gender History of Greek Literature Schooling the system : a history of Black women teachers  Reshaping women's history : voices of nontraditional women historians Journal of women's history Invisible women exposing data bias in a world designed for men Gendering the Master Narrative : Women and Power in the Middle Ages Gender and history journal The Wife of Bath : A BiographyForgotten wives : how women get written out of history

 

LGBT+ History Month 2024

LGBT+ History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, including the histories of other marginalised sexualities and gender identities. Last year’s observance marked 20 years since the law that banned “promotion of homosexuality” in the UK, Section 28, was repealed. This year’s theme is ‘Under the Scope’, celebrating LGBT+ peoples’ contribution to the field of medicine and shining a light on the history of the LGBT+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare.

LGBT+ History Month display on four shelves. Left to right: 'Tomboys and bachelor girls' by Rebecca Jennings; 'Britannia's glory, a history of 20th century lesbians' by Emily Hamer; 'A lesbian history of Britain' by Rebecca Jennings; 'Let the record show, a political history of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993' by Sarah Schulman; 'How to survive a plague' by David France; 'Before AIDS' by Katie Batza; 'Stonewall' by Martin Duberman; 'Red closet : the hidden history of gay oppression in the USSR' by Rustam Alexander; 'Before we were trans' by Kit Heyam; 'Queer public history' by Marc Stein; 'The shape of sex : nonbinary gender from Genesis to the Renaissance' by Leah DeVun; 'Same-sex sexuality in later medieval English culture' by Tom Linkinen; 'Queer voices in post-war Scotland' by Jeffrey Meek; 'A little gay history : desire and diversity across the world' by R. B. Parkinson

Our book display for LGBT+ History Month features some of these stories of AIDs activism and experiences in healthcare, as well as histories of queer oppression, revolution, and lived experiences across the globe from 200 AD to the present day. Please do peruse the display the next time you’re in the Camera, or check out some of our e-books and e-journals below.

When signed into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’, the following e-resources will be available for Oxford University Members—click on the covers below to access their SOLO records. Many more e-resources and physical books can be found by searching on SOLO.

Outrageous! : the story of Section 28 and Britain's battle for LGBT education by Paul Baker

Sapphistries : A Global History of Love between Women by Leila J. Rupp

 

 

 

Plane queer : labor, sexuality, and AIDS in the history of male flight attendants by Phil Tiemeyer

 

Bi : the hidden culture, history and science of bisexuality by Julia Shaw

 

Journal of the history of sexuality
The Routledge history of queer America edited by Don Romesburg

Seeing sodomy in the Middle Ages by Robert Mills

GLQ : a journal of lesbian and gay studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK Disability History Month 2023

UK Disability History Month is an annual event, running from 16th November to 16th December, focusing on the history of the disability rights movement and commemoration of the achievements of people living with disabilities. At the History Faculty Library, we have put together a display highlighting the histories of people living with disabilities from antiquity to the near-present.

As well as physical books, we also have a variety of e-books and e-journals which explore these issues. When signed into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’, the following e-resources will be available for Oxford University Members—click on the covers below to access their SOLO records. Many more e-resources and physical books can be found on SOLO by searching for ‘disability history’ or by following the links above.

 

The Ugly Laws : Disability in Public Understanding disability throughout historyDisability and society (Journal) Disability rights and wrongs revisited Destigmatising mental illness? Disability rights and religious liberty in education Disability histories A cultural history of disability in antiquity

Trans Awareness Week 2023

To celebrate Trans Awareness Week, running 13th-19th November, we have created a display from our collections highlighting the current and historical issues faced by trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people, and recognising those raising awareness. This annual event will culminate in Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, a day of observance honouring the memory of those who lost their lives in acts of transphobic violence.

Top shelf (left to right): Autobiography of an androgyne ; A history of women in men's clothes : from cross-dressing to empowerment ; British queer history. Second shelf: Queer public history ; Transgender warriors ; True sex : the lives of trans men at the turn of the twentieth century. Third shelf: Ambiguous gender in early modern Spain and Portugal ; Unmaking sex ; Stonewall : the definitive story of the LGBTQ rights uprising that changed America ; Queer beyond London. Bottom Shelf: Governing gender and sexuality in colonial India ; From a girl to a man : how Laura became Michael ; LGBT Victorians ; Gender : a world history.

As well as physical books, we also have a variety of e-books and e-journals which explore these issues. When signed into SOLO with your ‘Single Sign On’, the following e-resources will be available for Oxford University Members. Click on the covers below to access their SOLO records.

Transgender Studies QuarterlyBrown Trans FigurationsFemale husbands : a trans historyBlack trans feminismThe transgender issue : an argument for justice Trans Britain : our journey from the shadowsTrans historical : gender plurality before the modern Others of my kind : transatlantic transgender histories

Bloomsbury Cultural History series: more available

 

 

 

We have recently purchased the following titles in the Bloomsbury Cultural History series which are all available online via SOLO.

  • Cultural History of Childhood and Family (Bloomsbury, 2010, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of Disability (Bloomsbury, 2020, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of the Emotions (Bloomsbury, 2019, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of Marriage (Bloomsbury, 2019, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of the Senses (Bloomsbury, 2018, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of Women (Bloomsbury, 2013, 6 vols) via SOLO
  • Cultural History of Sexuality (Bloomsbury, 2014, 6 vols) via SOLO

The Cultural Histories are comprehensive surveys of the social and cultural construction of specific subjects across six historical periods:

  • Antiquity
  • The Medieval Age
  • The Renaissance
  • The Enlightenment
  • The Age of Empire
  • The Modern Age

Each volume discusses the same themes in its chapters so that readers may gain a broad understanding of a period by reading an entire volume, or follow a theme through history by reading the relevant chapter in each volume. Generously illustrated, each six-volume set combines to present an authoritative overview of its subject throughout history.

Book cover: Women in Antiquity Book cover: Sexuality in the Middle Ages

 

Book cover: Disability in the Middle Ages Book cover: Women in the Renaissance Book cover: Emotions in the Late Medieval, Reformation and Renaissance Book cover: Marriage in the Age of Enlightenment Book cover: Senses in the Age of Empire Book cover: Childhood and Family in the Modern Age

 

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

The cult of the personality is central to all recorded history, and the names of individuals figure prominently in history from its earliest records, such as in regnal eras from Ptolemaic Egypt to Augustan Rome, the Meiji era of Japan, Victorian Britain, or Napoleonic France; but also in ideological movements, whether scientific, political or religious – from the Copernican model of the universe or Darwinism to Marxism and Leninism or Thatcherism, and to Confucianism, Buddhism, Calvinism and Christianity.

The importance of the individual in history is a much debated issue, especially among Victorian historians and political theorists – in his famous 1841 On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History Thomas Carlyle proposes his Great Men theory which assigns credit (or responsibility, or even blame, as the case may be) for major developments of history to remarkable individuals of their times (Lecture 1, “The Hero as Divinity”, p. 21):

Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history, it may justly be considered, were the history of these.

One of the most influential publications which takes a completely opposite view is Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov’s 1898 The Role of the Individual in History, representative of a view of history proposed by a movement which is somewhat ironically named after what Carlyle would certainly have termed one of the Great Men of History – “Marxism”. Plekhanov claims (p.55):

Individual causes cannot bring about fundamental changes in the operation of general and particular causes which, moreover, determine the trend and limits of the influence of individual causes.

He argues that history should be seen neither as the consequence of the actions of individuals “from above” (nor of movements “from below”), but concedes that “there is no doubt that history would have had different features had the individual causes which had influenced it been replaced by other causes of the same order” since “the personal qualities of leading people determine the individual features of historical events” (pp. 55-56).

And similarly, Lenin (Collected Works vol. 1, p. 159) declares in his comments on “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are”:

“…the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures.”

The eBooks I would like to highlight in this blog are concerned with individuals in history, though not necessarily in the sense of Carlyle’s  “Great Men” (and presumably “Great Women”?) of history, or even Plekhanov’s “individual causes”, but more with Lenin’s understanding that all history is made up of the actions of individuals, This does not mean that these books are therefore necessarily biographies of individuals or microhistories of a group of individuals (though some of them are), but simply that they are very personal to the individual in some way or other, encompassing personal narratives or experiences as well as the study of particular individuals in history – or even works with a very personal focus that the writer intended for or addressed to very specific individuals, such as the first two books presented here.

Personal Writings

The poems of Venantius Fortunatus (c. 535-600) have long been mined as a historical source for Merovingian society, but are remarkable not only for their literary quality, but for the very personal dimension of a number of the surviving examples which chart emotions and relationships – from poems accompanying personal gifts to an aristocratic lady, clever banter addressed to a bishop, expressions of longing for and wishes of safety to travelling friends, poems as thanks for gifts received, apologies for being unable to visit and wishes for reunions, pleas for protection to powerful figures like Gregory of Tours, consolations for widowed queens, and many which are simply an affectionate “hello” from the poet to his distant friends. Under the title of Poems to Friends a number of these personal writings are now newly available as an eBook in the 2010 translation into free verse by Joseph Pucci, with introductory material on late antique Gaul, Fortunatus’ biography, interpretations of the poems, prosopographical introductions, maps, and a bibliography which offer a wider context for these often very touching poems. A piece of historiography which is very much written for one particular person, as well as deeply connected to the author’s personal history, are Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories, commissioned in 1520 by Giulio Cardinal de Medici, and used by Machiavelli as a way to work his way back into his good graces. Presented to Giulio (now Pope Clement VII) in May 1526, it was first printed in 1532, 5 years after Machiavelli’s death. Clearly not a work born of personal inspiration, this is received history, reworked from earlier chronicles, covering, as the author phrases it, “the things done at home and abroad by the Florentine people” from the decline of the Roman Empire up to the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1492, with four of their eight books dedicated to the fight for power and the Medicean lordship. Nevertheless, the work bears ample witness to the author’s literary style, and contains numerous entertaining episodes of high drama and glimpses of humour, resulting in a at times gripping and at times tedious work which is redeemed by the insights of one of the greatest political thinkers of all time.

Biographies and Autobiographies

Three remarkable individuals from the Middle Ages and the are the subject of this next batch of personal histories now available as eBooks, one clearly classifiable as a hagiography, one an obvious autobiography, and the third rather indistinctly wavering between hagiography, biography, and autobiography. Thomas of Monmouth’s hagiographical Life and Passion of William of Norwich, available now as an eBook in Miri Rubin’s 2014 translation, holds a unique and terrible place in the history of Anti-Semitism, while also giving a remarkable insight into daily life in a medieval cathedral city: it documents the martyrdom and posthumous miracles at the shrine of William, a young boy believed to have been murdered by the Jews of Norwich. The Book of Margery Kempe, in Anthony Bale’s 2015 translation, also contains touches of hagiography – it is the extraordinary account of a medieval wife, mother, and mystic, dictated by the illiterate Margery to an amanuensis as the earliest autobiography written in the English language. Confusingly, however, it presents more as a biography than an autobiography, since it is written in the third rather than the first person, with the amanuensis referring to Margery as “the creature” throughout. Ranging from her home in King’s Lynn to Rome and Jerusalem, her book describes her transformation from businesswoman, wife and mother to chaste visionary and pilgrim, with vivid accounts of her prayers and visions, the temptations of her daily life, and her ponderings on God and the world. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave is another extraordinary autobiographical account by an illiterate woman dictated to a scribe, and has the distinction of being the first ever account by a black woman to be published in Britain (in 1831). The book describes Prince’s sufferings as a slave in Bermuda, Turks Island and Antigua, and her eventual arrival in London in 1828, where she escaped from her owner and sought assistance from the Anti-Slavery Society. Drawing attention to the continuation of slavery in the Caribbean despite an 1807 Act of Parliament officially ending the slave trade, the publication inspired two libel actions and ran into three editions in the year of its publication alone. As a powerful rallying cry for emancipation it remains an extraordinary testament to Prince’s ill-treatment, suffering and survival.

Personal Histories

The final four books I would like to highlight in this blog, while not outright biographies, still flirt with the genre in that they are dedicated to the study of particular individuals or groups of individuals in history, presenting close-up views and insights into some very personal experiences and thoughts. The lives of several more remarkable women are the subject of the eleven chapters of Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, which examine issues of political agency, myth-making, and patronage by queens dowager and queens consort who have disappeared from history or have been misunderstood in modern historical treatment. Covering queenship from 1016 to 1800, and with a broad coverage in geography and disciplines from religious history, art history, and literature, the contributions demonstrate the influence of queens in different aspects of monarchy over eight centuries, and further our knowledge of the roles and challenges that they faced. A group of women who have a number of things in common are also the subject of Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting, though here the geographical and chronological scope is rather more narrow: Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, and home at various times to the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and the writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. From H.D.’s residence there during the First World War via Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote in the same room in 1921, to Virginia Woolf’s move into the square in 1939, Wade draws an engaging picture of five in some ways very different but in others quite similar women in search of a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.

Susan L. Tananbaum’s book on Jewish Immigrants in London covers a similar time and space, but works on a rather wider scope with respect to the individuals it focuses on in its discussion: the quarter of a million European Jews who settled in England between 1880 and 1939. Despite this vast number, Tananbaum still manages to look at personal histories and the fates of individuals, exploring the differing ways in which the existing Anglo-Jewish communities, local government and education and welfare organizations sought to socialize these new arrivals, focusing on the experiences of working-class women and children. Beginning in the year where she leaves off, War Through Children’s Eyes then offers a collection of 120 short personal accounts written by Polish children who were among the one million people deported to various provinces of the Soviet Union after the Soviet occupation of Poland in the winter of 1939-40. It is the perception of these witnesses that makes these documents unique, offering a child’s eye view of events no adult would consider worth mentioning. In simple language, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, the children recorded their experiences, and sometimes their surprisingly mature understanding, of the invasion and the Soviet occupation, the deportations eastward, life in the work camps and kolkhozes, and vivid memories of privation, hunger, disease, and death.

You can browse all our new eBooks on LibraryThing here.

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

What is “revolution”?

In Book V of his Politics, Aristotle speaks at length of the major vehicle for constitutional change, the phenomenon of στάσις (stasis), a term variously translated as “civil war”, “sedition”, “faction” – or “revolution”. Aristotle uses it to denote a number of variations of political conflict from sedition and civil war to smaller instances of feuding and struggle for prestige, and applies it both to the conflict people engage in, and also to the group of people who engage in the conflict. Hatzistavrou in his chapter on “Factions” in The  Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Politics divides these states of conflict (or groups engaging in conflict) into two distinct categories according to their causes – injustice-induced, and greed-induced, and it is of course the first that is usually acknowledged as the main cause of social revolutions throughout world history. Aristotle himself also mentions inequality as one in a longer list of possible causes of stasis that include avarice, superiority, honour, fear, difference of race and disproportionate growth, but is keen to stress that the importance (or non-importance) of the impetus that initiates any particular conflict is not necessarily the same as the importance of the cause for which this conflict is then in the end conducted (Book V, Chapter 4, p. 7):

Factions arise … not concerning small things, but from small things; men form factions concerning great things.

In English, the umbrella term “revolution” covers a great variety of different types of political conflicts – some are peaceful, nonviolent protests, but others produce bloody civil wars; some have produced democracies and greater liberty, but others have produced brutal dictatorships. Taking all this into consideration, Jack A. Goldstone in Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction (p. 4) offers a minimalist yet comprehensive definition which includes the physical, ideological and political aspects of the phenomenon:

Revolution is the forcible overthrow of a government through mass mobilization (whether military or civilian or both) in the name of social justice, to create new political institutions.

Some famous factions (or revolutions) in the course of global history include the Set rebellion of c. 2730 BC which divided Egypt into Upper and Lower Egypt; the establishment of the Roman Republic in 510–509 BC; the 3rd Servile War in 73–71 BC (better known as the Gladiator War or the War of Spartacus); the Germanic Revolt of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest in 9-13 AD; the Peasants’ Revolt, or Great Rising in England in 1381; or the 1525 German Peasants’ War. The 1688 “Glorious Revolution” in England establishes the term “revolution” for a number of the more significant and influential staseis of the modern era, such as the Haitian and the French Revolutions at the turn of the 19th century. Still, other terms persist – the mid-19th century modernization revolution in Japan is known as the Meiji Restoration, and the anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising in China at the turn of the 20th century as the Boxer Rebellion. In Europe we find the Irish 1916 Easter Rising and the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and for the widespread anti-government movements in the Arab world in the 2010s an entirely new phrase was coined: the Arab Spring.

What Aristotle calls stasis thus has many names in English historiography, which uses a number of both native terms and loanwords to distinguish nuances of a wide variety of political conflicts, from “putsch”, “coup d’état”, “Machtergreifung” and “résistance” to “restoration”, “insurrection”, “mutiny”, “riot”, “rising”, “rebellion”, “revolt”, and, finally, “revolution”. What term historiographers assign to any particular stasis does seem to depend not only on the success of any given faction to changing constitutions, or political or social situations, but also in great part on which faction (the winning or the losing side of the conflict) is in the end responsible for, or influences, the historiography after the fact. Similarly, any judgement passed on, or assessment given of such conflict as to its righteousness, virtue, moral rightness (or lack of it)  found in contemporary or later historiography depends much on whether it is penned by the new establishment, as in, the former rebels of a successful revolt, or the old establishment after the successful suppression of an uprising, or an independent party. Depending on the side the historiographer finds themselves on, revolutions can be presented as a case of downtrodden masses raised up by leaders who guide them in overthrowing unjust rulers (later given modern form as a theory of the inevitable triumph of the poor over the rich by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and their followers), or judged as eruptions of popular anger that produce only chaos (as per the critics of Marx, Lenin, Mao et al.).

In this blog I would like to highlight some of the ebooks newly arrived at the Bodleian which focus on such ideology-driven, political conflicts arising from inequality, under any of their many names, from the Middle Ages though to the 20th century, presented here in roughly chronological order.

1066-1284

The first book concerns stasis not in the modern sense of “revolution”, but in the second Aristotelian sense of a smaller-scale struggle for supremacy or domination by different members of an oligarchy. David Carpenter’s 2004 The Struggle for Mastery examines the momentous two-and-a-half centuries after 1066, when the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was destroyed and Anglo-Saxons became a subject race, dominated by a Norman-French dynasty and aristocracy. Arguing that the English domination of the kingdom was by no means a foregone conclusion, Carpenter looks at a drawn-out competition for domination between England, Scotland and Wales which shaped the history of the British Middle Ages.

1660-1680

The aftermath of the English Civil War is one of those cases where the label attached by historiographers clearly reflects the spin put on the conflict by the prevailing party – in his 2006 Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms Tim Harris examines the late 17th century as a period of extraordinary turbulence and political violence in Britain, tracing the fate of the monarchy from Charles II’s triumphant accession in 1660 to the growing discontent of the 1680s. Looking beyond the popular image of Restoration England revelling in its freedom from the austerity of Puritan rule under a merry monarch, Harris surveys some of the shadier sides of a desperately insecure regime after two decades of civil war.

1660-1680

Looking at the same aftermath of the English Civil War through the eyes of the Puritans is Fear, Exclusion and Revolution, a collection of essays on the ‘Entring Book’ of Puritan minister Roger Morrice, his detailed record of public affairs in Britain between 1677 and 1691 which charts the rise of British party politics, and the transformation of Puritanism into ‘Whiggery’ and Dissent. The essays collected in this volume address some of Morrice’s key concerns in his book, including the atmosphere of fear and foreboding, the profound effect of events on the continent on the English, or the anxieties and opportunities caused by a socially diffuse culture of news and information, and sheds light on a social, political and religious situation which ultimately led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

1788-1887

Moving into the 18th and 19th centuries, Blackburn’s The American Crucible is a vivid and authoritative history of the rise and, more importantly, the fall of slavery in the Americas. It looks at Europe’s conquest and colonisation of the Americas with its system of slavery, and the promotion of the rise of capitalism in the Atlantic world through the slave labour which helped establish empires, fostered new cultures of consumption and financed the breakthrough to an industrial order. Blackburn interprets the New World as a “crucible” for a succession of experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement, colonial rebellion, and slave resistance, and charts the great movements of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, Britain in 1833-8, the United States in the 1860s, and Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s, with a view to how they influenced many of the ideals we live by today.

1800-1815

The turn of the 19th century saw what is usually regarded as the revolution par excellence, but in his Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution Martin Lyons looks not at the French Revolution itself, nor at Napoleon in one of his many other roles from Jacobin to Republican to Emperor, but focuses on developments in French society and economy as a background to a view of Napoleon specifically as an heir and executor of the French Revolution, preserving its social gains, and consolidating the triumph of the bourgeoisie.

1916

In a century that offers plenty of examples of violent revolts, the 1916 Easter Rising still stands out, and still invites new interpretations and insights over a century later. In his Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion Charles Townshend looks at both the rising itself and the violent British response to it, which made an entire nation turn away in revulsion. Townshend’s account of the stasis which launched Ireland into a new era asks and answers questions on what the rebels actually hoped to achieve, what the thinking behind the British response might have been, and how the events were regarded by ordinary people across Ireland.

1936

Bloodless and peaceful but nevertheless superbly effective socialist, pacifist, and feminist protests, campaigns and movements characterise the life of Ellen Wilkinson, whose 2016 biography Red Ellen by Laura Beers is now available online. Best remembered as the leader of the 1936 “Jarrow Crusade”, the 300-mile march of two hundred unemployed shipwrights and steelworkers to petition the British government for assistance, Wilkinson’s fight for social justice extended to involvement in a range of campaigns, from the quest for official recognition of the Spanish Republican government to the fight for Indian independence or  the effort to smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany. Beers paints a portrait of a remarkable woman whose achievements include the founding of Britain’s Communist Party, a seat in Parliament, a post as one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, a central role in Britain’s post-war Labour government as Minister of Education, and in general successful activism as an advocate for the poor and dispossessed.

1940-45

The memoirs of another remarkable women whose life was defined by the involvement in opposition against the established powers are edited and translated in Résistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, the diaries of Agnès Humbert, founder of one of the first organised groups of the French Resistance in 1940s Paris. Betrayed to the Gestapo in 1941, Humbert was imprisoned but escaped execution, spending the years until the end of the war in a German forced labour camp. First published immediately after her liberation in 1946, and now available as an ebook in its first English translation of 2008, the memoirs, written with a deft touch and sardonic wit, offer a very personal and candid perspective of this dark period.

1968

With the understanding of the year 1968 as a marker of an emerging will for social change around the turn of that decade, rather than as a particular calendar year, the essay collection Women, Global Protest Movements, and Political Agency explores women’s historical involvement in “1968” in different parts of the world and the different ways in which women’s experience as victims and perpetrators of violence are remembered and understood.  The topics touched on in the various contributions include for example transnational memories of Northern Ireland’s ’68, West German documentary drama, female terrorists and women in the jihad, women fighters during the Lebanese civil war, and violence against women in Yugoslavia.

You can find more books on the topic on our LibraryThing shelf tagged with “revolutions”  and “political violence”, and browse all our new ebooks on LibraryThing here.