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.

Trial until 17 July: Perlego (ebooks)

We are delighted to announce that Oxford readers now have trial access to Perlego until 17 July.

Perlego contains 300,000 ebook titles across a broad range of subjects. This includes all of Wiley and Pearson titles. You may browse by subject, topic, curated reading list or publisher.

The History section includes just under 24,000 ebooks, the vast majority being popular history but it also includes works by e.g. Prof Lyndal Roper, Diarmaid MacCulloch, and many more eminent scholars.

Users can browse the full collection to identify titles of interest without creating an account at www.perlego.com.

However, to access the full-text, users need to create their own Perlego account. To set this up, go to Databases A-Z and find Perlego.

Then, click on the link to WebLearn to find the access code and the link to the platform. A registration form will be generated. Use your ox.ac.uk email address and the access code to set up your account. Once this is done, in future,  you can go to Perlego at perlego.com and just login in with your email address.

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

For more information on Perlego: have a look at the YouTube tutorial

We only have a one month trial so please make good use of the resource!

Bodleian New History eBooks – May 2020: The History of the British Isles

Bodleian New History eBooks – May 2020: The History of the British Isles

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise…

(William Shakespeare, Richard II, II.1, 40-43)

The “British Isles” are defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica simply as the “group of islands off the northwestern coast of Europe” consisting of the two main islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and numerous smaller islands and island groups, including the Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Man, and possibly also the Channel Islands. The accompanying illustration of the “Terminology of the British Isles”, however, already contradicts the seeming simplicity of the definition.

In addition the expression itself is of course politically controversial, particularly for many people in Ireland – prompting General Editor Paul Langford in his Preface to the Short Oxford History of the British Isles to make the disclaimer that in the series they “use the words British Isles solely and simply as a geographical expression” and to reassure the readers that “[n]o set agenda is implied”. Considering the number of different peoples who at one point or another colonised, invaded, annexed, left or were driven out of various parts of the island group, and the various kingdoms, colonies or republics they founded (as illustrated beautifully in this video), the difficulty in establishing a sense of unity among these changing sovereignties and shifting boundaries is readily understandable.

Such difficulty also extends to the subject of the History of the British Isles and its scope: scholars and students of English History are often accused of ignoring the History of Britain as a whole, while those who study the History of Britain are often accused to take the inclusion of Ireland for granted, and those who want to write on or study specifically the History of Scotland, Wales or Ireland quickly find that such exclusivity can be difficult to achieve. To quote Paul Langford again, “What constitutes a concept such as British history or four nations history, remains the subject of acute disagreement, and varies much depending on the period under discussion.”

The plethora of such periods that can potentially be discussed, stemming from a recorded history of over two millennia, is not helping either – the “short” Oxford History of the British Isles spans 11 volumes from The Roman Era and Vikings and Normans to The British Isles since 1945, with individual volumes covering the 12th/13th, 14th/15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and two full volumes dedicated to the 20th century. The subject of the History of the British Isles in the Further Honours School here at Oxford on the other hand is subdivided into seven eras from “The Early Medieval British Isles, 300-1100” via “The Late Medieval British Isles, 1330-1550” and “Liberty, Commerce and Power, 1685-1830” to finally “Changing Identities, 1900 to the present”. In short, the options for subdividing the 2000 years of history into thematically coherent segments of widely varying length are legion, from Pre-Historic Britain to The Anglo-Saxon Era, The Elizabethan Age, The Tudors, The Victorians, The Long 19th Century, The Edwardian Era, The World Wars, The Inter-War Period, Britain Post-1945, The Cold War, The Sixties, The Thatcher Era, or The 21st Century, to name only a few possibilities.

In the face of this, this blog on the new eBooks arrived at the Bodleian on the subject of the History of the British Isles cannot hope to be anywhere near comprehensive, or touch on every important, let alone every interesting era or aspect of these 2000 years. This edition, then, features a somewhat eclectic (but hopefully interesting) rather than representative sample of the various books on the wider topic which are newly available for online access. You can find all our new eBooks on our LibraryThing shelf here, and all our books tagged “Great Britain” here.

The envy of less happier lands

The 2000 years of British History have seen a lot of armed conflict, some of it occasioned by, some of it causing the changes or shifts of borders. I have chosen just three studies on the topic, two from the early modern and one from the modern era, to highlight here.

Paul E. J. Hammer’s Elizabeth’s Wars charts several of the politically and materially costly but ultimately successful military conflicts England engaged in between 1544 and 1604 under Elizabeth I. Starting with the gradual rebuilding of England’s military power on both land and sea against the double threat of France and Spain at the beginning of her reign, the study covers England’s great war with Spain in the 1580s and 1590s with its campaigns spanning the Low Countries, northern France, Spain and the Atlantic, as well as the famous Armada campaign of 1588; and also touches on the last Irish resistance to English domination which was crushed towards the end of Elizabeth’s reign. Ann Hughes’ 1991 The Causes of the English Civil War, one of the standard textbooks on the subject, is also now available online through SOLO in its second, revised edition. Hughes offers an accessible and  comprehensive guide to the historiographical debates surrounding the middle of the 17th century, with discussion not only of the political leaders and their parliaments, but of the wider European context, the general political and religious background of the era, and relevant social and cultural issues and aspects. For the 20th century, Angus Calder examines The Myth of the Blitz as a piece of World War II propaganda in a detailed discussion of the events of 1940 and 1941. While acknowledging its sustaining powers in Britain’s “finest hour”, his close scrutiny inevitably dispels a good part of a myth which rested upon the assumed invincibility of an island race distinguished by good humour, understatement, and the ability to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat by team work, improvisation and muddling through.

Dear for her reputation through the world

There is inevitable overlap with the topic of warfare in the studies of England’s and later Great Britain’s international relations, which am turning to next.

A collection of new studies on Tudor international relations, Tudor England and its Neighbours analyses important changes and continuities in England’s foreign policy between 1485 and 1603. Taking into account recent developments in cultural, gender and institutional history, the contributors discuss Tudor England’s relations with Germany, France, Spain or Scotland, examining such wide-ranging subjects as Henry VII’s pursuit of peace with France, the impact of the break with Rome and the introduction of Protestantism on England’s relations with other countries, and, yes, the inevitability or otherwise of war between Elizabethan England and Spain. The British dimension of the whole span of the American Revolution, from its origins to the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and its aftermath, is the topic of another collection of essays newly available online, Britain and the American Revolution. The nine contributions discuss Britain’s response to the blow the Revolution represented both to her Atlantic empire and to her position as a great colonial and commercial power, as well as the importance of the Revolution in the dynamics of British politics in the later 18th century. The chapters cover the problems governing the American colonies, Britain’s diplomatic isolation in Europe over the war, the impact of the American crisis on Ireland, ideological dimensions and public opinion, and the consequences of the loss of America for Britain. Imperial Britain is also the subject of Andrew S. Thompson’s beautifully titled The Empire Strikes Back?, which looks at the influence of the global superpower Britain on its colonies in Africa, Asia and America not only in terms of politics and government, but in aspects of life as varied and wide-ranging as culture, religion, law and order, health and sexuality. More than that, however, the study shows how the dependent states hit back, affecting and changing British social life and class, economics and domestic politics, and British identity itself.

Bound in with the triumphant sea

Or, as Flanders and Swann phrase it in their 1963 parodistic “Song of Patriotic Prejudice”, a work “calculated to offend practically everybody”,

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We’ve left in the hands of three unfriendly powers:
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot,
You’ll find he’s a stinker, as likely as not!

True to this prompt to examine these nations (but obviously with rather different outcomes!), several of the new eBooks focus specifically on the history of Wales, Ireland, or Scotland.

Kathryn Hurlock’s Medieval Welsh Pilgrimage examines the Welshmen with respect to this most popular expressions of religious belief in medieval Europe, looking both at the historical and religious significance of the Welsh holy pilgrimage sites to explore what motivated pilgrims to visit these particular sites, and at Welsh pilgrims to both local and overseas pilgrimage destinations – their expectations, their engagement with pilgrimage both practically and ideologically, and their experiences and emotions on the journey and in the achievements of their ultimate goals. A very close examination of a fascinating group of Irishmen and Irishwomen is offered by R. F. Foster in Vivid Faces, which deal with the “revolutionary generation” of 1890-1923, surveying the lives and beliefs of the people who made the 1916 Irish Revolution, and their shared youth, radicalism, subversive activities, enthusiasm and love. Working from contemporary diaries, letters and reflections, Foster brings to life the members of the student societies, theatre groups, feminist collectives, volunteer militias, Irish-language summer schools, and radical newspaper offices who made the revolution, as well as the disillusionment in which it ended. Finally, Tom Devine’s 2017 Independence or Union turns to the Scots, and looks closely at the vexed and uneasy relationship between Scotland and England which has shaped the island since the Middle Ages though a continuous exchange of inhabitants, monarchs, money and ideas, both in peacetimes based on consent and mutual advantage, and in wartime characterised by force and antagonism. Devine’s study explores the relationship between the two countries from the 17th century to the present, weighing up benefits, and raising the question which has become possibly more pressing than ever since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

This happy breed of men

British Society, and the Brits themselves, are the object of a number of widely varied nwly available studies in the fields of social and cultural history.

Authority, Gender and Emotions in Late Medieval and Early Modern England collects essays on situations of authority, governance, and influence related to gender before 1600. Investigating how gender and emotions shaped the ways different individuals could assert or maintain authority, or indeed disrupt or provide alternatives to conventional practices of authority, the contributions explore case studies of women and men’s letter-writing, political and ecclesiastical governance, household rule, exercise of law and order, or creative agency.

Ideology is at the heart of two further new eBooks on British culture, both focusing on the 20th century: The Culture of Fascism explores the cultural history of fascism and the Far Right with a view to British fascism from the early 1900s not just as a political movement, but one that established a wide-reaching fascist culture reaching into film, theatre, music, literature, the visual arts and mass media. The contributions offer discussions of fascist marching songs and “Aryan” music, fascism in science, the cult of the New Fascist Man, and fascist masculinity and femininity. Peter Clarke’s Hope and Glory also looks at British society in the 20th century, considering a number of diverse aspects of three generations who lived through a century of unparalleled change. He offers a wider examination of the political, social, cultural and economic changes throughout, and how issues such as jobs and prices, food and shelter, and education and welfare have shaped the society we live in.

Finally, fundamental questions of Britishness and British identity in the 21st century are raised in Afua Hirsch’s Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, a provocative exploration of the personal experiences of a mixed-race British woman living in a nation in denial about its imperial past, and about the racism that plagues its present. Described as a memoir with social analysis and a political and social challenge of unconscious biases, or as part historical exploration, part journalistic exposé of racism and class disadvantage in modern Britain, Hirsch’s book looks at the real world impact of concepts such as ‘racism’,  ‘prejudice’, and ‘disadvantage’ on the lives of real people, placing her own lifelong search for identity against the backdrop of a national identity crisis, and offering insights on the issues of race, identity and the multiple meanings of Britishness.

Library update 21/5: etextbooks, Numérique Premium trial, Sources Chrétiennes Online

In today’s update, we have news of some etextbook availability, a trial of French ebooks and a new purchase of interest to church historians.

Use SSO for remote access as usual.

VitalSource is a supplier of ebooks and etextbooks to individuals. https://www.vitalsource.com/
They are offering up to 7 free rental for UK students and academics until the end of June due to the pandemic on their Bookshelf site, as long as you sign up with your .ox.ac.uk address. Bookshelf is a sub-set of VitalSource’s complete content. Records are NOT on SOLO.

Kortext (access until June 30, 2020). Another etextbook supplier. Includes The Oxford World Classics series and a selection of other e-books and e-textbooks. Access and SOLO loading is still in process. Not hugely useful for history, compared to other subjects, but it includes e.g. E. Said’s Culture and Imperialism or P. Marshall’s Reformation England 1480-1642. Records in SOLO will be very brief and not very accurate! Best to do a keyword search.

Numérique Premium (trial until 12/6): a French Humanities e-book collection. It contains about 1,500 French-language Humanities ebooks. Access the resource via SOLO but note that records of individual ebooks are NOT on SOLO. Let Isabel Holowaty know if this is useful.

Sources Chrétiennes Online (SCO), purchased by Classics and Theology colleagues. Access the resource via SOLO. The series consists of critical editions of Christian texts in Greek and Latin, but also in oriental languages, such as Syriac, Armenian and Georgian, dating from the first 1,400 years of the Church, accompanied by a French translation as well as an introduction and notes.

Ebooks from Cambridge University Press

We are delighted to announce that over 21,000 ebooks in Humanities published by Cambridge University Press are available to members of the University from 12 May 2020 to 31 May 2021 via their EBA (evidence-based acquisitions) programme. It joins our growing collection of ebooks in Oxford.

This will be particularly be welcomed by students revising for their exams, studying for their essays or doing research while the libraries are closed due to COVID-19.

Access requires SSO or VPN.

What is included?

All CUP books on the list are available online to University members via SOLO during this period. Any new titles newly published during this time will also be added. They can also be found directly on Cambridge Core though remember to sign in with SSO or switch on VPN first.

For History, the programme includes over 7,500 CUP ebooks, with a large number of important monographs relevant for all periods and covering global history.

How can I find a title list?

To

To see a title list of the history books available, sign into SOLO with SSO (or use VPN), go to Cambridge Core > History > Explore History Books. Pick a section and select “Only show content I have access to”.

The books are DRM-free (digital-rights-management-free), which means there are no restrictions on use such as downloading, printing or copying.

What happens in May 2021?

At the end of the period, Humanities subject librarians will make a selection of about 500 books based on appearance on reading lists and heavy use during the period. These selections will be added permanently to the ebook collection of the Bodleian Libraries.

While you are here:

Temporary access: East View ebooks / Late Qing and Republican Era Chinese Periodicals and Newspapers database

Colleagues in other Bodleian Libraries have been busy setting up trials or temporary access to resources which will be of interest to historians working on modern Slavonic, Jewish history and Chinese history. As ever Oxford scholars need to use their SSO to gain remote access.

East View e-book collection (trial until 31 May 2020)

This resource gives you access to the East View Essential Classics Collection, the Dostoevsky Research series: Dostoevskii materialy i issledovaniia as well as East View’s Slavonic and Judaica collection. In addition it offers, reference works including encyclopedias and atlases as well as e-books from a wide range of different subject areas including linguistics, philosophy science, social science, history, business, economics.

It also includes biographical works. Some of the e-books in the collection are in Russian and others are in English.

Please send feedback to Nick Hearn.

Late Qing and Republican Era Chinese Periodicals and Newspapers database (until 28 July 2020)

The database offers full-text access to Chinese periodical publications (academic, popular, literary, professional) from 1832-1949 covering a whole range of subjects including politics, history, law, language and literature, humanities and social sciences.

In addition to Chinese periodicals, the database offers access to archives of several major newspaper titles published in English in China before 1949, including North China Herald and the China Press, among many others.

Please send feedback to Mamtimyn Sunuodula.

Bodleian New History eBooks: April 2020 – Science and the Occult

Bodleian New History eBooks: April 2020 – Science and the Occult

Iam patet horrificis quae sit via flexa Cometis;

Iam non miramur barbati Phaenomena Astri.

Now we know what curved path the frightful comets have;

No longer do we marvel at the appearances of a bearded star.

Edmund Halley, “Ode on This Splendid Ornament of Our Time and Our Nation, the Mathematico-Physical Treatise by the Eminent Isaac Newton.”

The “Scientific Revolution” is understood to consist of a series of events during the early modern period that marked the emergence of modern sciences through revolutionary developments in such areas as mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, human anatomy and chemistry. Its starting point is usually taken to coincide with the publication of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543, while its end point is the publication of another revolutionary study, Isaac Newton’s 1687 Principia, the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. It would be quite easy to imagine the Scientific Revolution as the great divide between the occult and the scientific – with magic, alchemy, astrology, and  any other “practical arts held to involve agencies of a secret or mysterious nature” (as the OED defines the term “occult sciences”) on the one side, and modern sciences like chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, and astronomy on the other. But the divide, if it even exists, is nowhere near as neat.

For one, esotericism, occultism and mysticism are very much alive and flourishing, and making headlines even in the 21st century: last year US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ birth horoscope, drawn up by self-described psychic and astrologer Arthur Lipp-Bonewits, made “Astrology Twitter” go wild, while a coven of Brooklyn witches publicly hexed then-Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh. Alternative medicines from acupuncture to homeopathy, and from Ayurveda and therapeutic magnets to faith healing are also experiencing a considerable revival – “healing crystals”, for example, endorsed and commercialised by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Adele and Kim Kardashian, have  become a (often shady) billion-dollar industry.

For another, evidence keeps mounting that the so-called occult sciences, especially alchemy, lie at the heart of much of the emerging modern science, and that even canonical figures of the Scientific Revolution pursued chrysopoeia seriously. Newton is a case in point – the Indiana University website Chymistry of Isaac Newton provides online access of his impressive collection of alchemical manuscripts, and even the The Cambridge Companion to Newton concedes that “[a]lthough his long engagement with alchemy did not lead Newton to his fundamental discovery of universal gravitation, it had highly significant impacts on other aspects of his science, particularly in the realms of optics and in the study of the Earth’s internal processes.” (p. 455) The “Father of Modern Chemistry”, Robert Boyle, is a similar case – surviving papers show clearly that his work on transmutational processes was integrated into his chemical research, and “document unambiguously Boyle’s lifelong chrysopoetic activities, his search for the philosophers’ stone, and his attempts to contact adepti.” (Principe, 2011, p. 308). This relationship of science with the occult does not even start and end with the Scientific Revolution – some of the outstanding figures of the very early history of medicine in Islam in the 9th and 10th century have an equal importance as alchemists, and the New Cambridge History of Islam, in its chapter on “Occult Sciences and Medicine”, labels the Islamic tradition of alchemy as “most important for the history of science”. On the other side, Modern Alchemy: Occultism and the Emergence of Atomic Theory argues convincingly that as modern nuclear physics was born, the trajectories of science and occultism briefly converged: in their joint 1902 papers on “The Radioactivity of Thorium Compounds”, Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy demonstrated how radioactive elements disintegrate, releasing radioactivity and transforming into other elements in the process, a process now known widely under the same name as the supposed change of base metals into gold in alchemy – “transmutation”.

In the spirit of such relationships, this selection of History eBooks newly purchased by the Bodleian on the wider topic of “Science and the Occult” includes studies from classic occult subjects such as demononolgy and witchcraft, discussions of the occult sciences and their relationship with modern science, and books on the Scientific Revolution itself.

The Occult

We are starting off with one of the “classics” of the history of witchcraft, Demonolatry: An Account of the Historical Practice of Witchcraft, a new 2008 edition of Ashwin’s English translation of Nicolas Remy’s 1595 Daemonolatreiae, an amplification and update of the 1486 Malleus Maleficarum, and the leading witchcraft handbook of its day. In addition to defining the black arts and their practitioners, making it possible to “recognize” witches, it offers civil and religious authorities directives for persecution of the accused and punishment of the condemned – and if you need any more incentive to read, Remy’s collection of notes, opinions, and court records features lurid details of satanic pacts and sexual perversity as well as the particulars of numerous trials. Lynda Roper’s Witch Craze (2004) then illustrates how handbooks like these were put into practice, offering a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches during the 16th and 17th centuries in Southern Germany. Drawing on hundreds of original trial transcripts, Roper examines the lives, families, and tribulations of the condemned witches, analysing the psychology of witch-hunting, and discussing how the depiction of witches in art and literature has influenced the characterization of elderly women in our own culture.

Religion, the Occult, and Science

Another classic study of the subject, this one concentrating on the 16th and 17th centuries in England, is Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic, now also available as an eBook through SOLO. Thomas analyses the connections between magic and popular religion at a time the Protestant Reformation worked to take the magic out of religion, and science and rationalism also began to challenge the older systems of beliefs held by people on every level of English society. Staying with the topic of religion, but moving a bit further into the realm of science as well as into the 18th century is Rob Iliffe’s Priest of Nature, which focuses on an often-neglected side of Isaac Newton, his private religious convictions that set him at odds with established law and Anglican doctrine. Iliffe’s discussion of Newton’s long-suppressed writings on his theological positions sheds light on the relationship between faith and science at a formative moment in history and thought, and the theological discussions that dominated Newton’s age, giving an insightful picture of the spiritual views of a man who fundamentally changed how we look at the universe.

The Occult Sciences

Two of the books newly available as eBooks discuss some of the classic occult sciences – Secrets of Nature (2001) offers eight essays on various aspects of the disciplines of alchemy and astrology in early modern Europe, from the work of Renaissance astrologer Girolamo Cardano to the astrological thinking of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei, the history of the Rosicrucians and the influence of John Dee, the work of medical alchemist Simon Forman, and the existing historiography of alchemy. Connecting the occult science of alchemy with the modern scientific area of chemistry, Bruce T. Moran’s 2005 Distilling Knowledge looks past contemporary assumptions and prejudices to determine what alchemists were actually doing in the context of early modern science between 1400 and 1700. His examination of the ways alchemy and chemistry were studied and practiced show a shared territory between their two disciplines in the way the respective practitioners thought about the natural world, and even exchanged ideas and methods – to a point where he argues for accepting alchemy, on its own terms, as a demonstrative science.

The Scientific Revolution

Finally there are two books which focus on the Scientific Revolution itself. John Henry’s 1997 seminal study The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science is a concise but wide-ranging account of all aspects of the Scientific Revolution from astronomy to zoology, and offers a guide to the most important aspects of the Scientific Revolution. Its 3rd revised and extended 2008 edition, which takes into account the latest scholarship and research and new developments in historiography, is now available as an eBook on SOLO. The 2000 volume Rethinking the Scientific Revolution, however, challenges some of the traditional historiography of the Scientific Revolution – the papers collected here reconsider canonical figures from Copernicus to Robert Boyle and especially Newton, moving from their ideas on alchemy and astrology to the influences, ideas and attitudes towards religion, theology and philosophy during this seminal period of European intellectual history.

You can find all books newly available as eBooks on our LibraryThing shelf, or check out the tag pages for “witchcraft“, “Scientific Revolution” or “alchemy” for more books on this topic!

New: Bloomsbury Medieval Studies

Following a successful trial in October 2019, I am pleased to announce that Oxford researchers now have access to Bloomsbury Medieval Studies (SSO required for off-campus access).

This purchase is made possible thanks to the generosity of Jonathan Glasspool, Managing Director, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. and the Madeline Barber Bequest.

This is an 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).

Explore articles written by top international contributors in the newly commissioned and exclusive reference work, the Encyclopedia of the Global Middle Ages.

Tips for locating digital resources & ebooks

[This blog post will be periodically updated. Check regularly for new updates.]

Whilst libraries are closed in amidst the COVID-19 crisis, here are some tips for finding digital resources and ebooks:

  1. Search SOLO. We have 118,000 eJournals and 1.49 million eBooks available for use 24/7. Lots of them will be for History. Many publishers have allowed free or improved access to ebooks during this emergency period. A full listing is available on the ebooks LibGuide and is being updated as new resources are added.
  2. Looking for relevant journal articles? Use bibliographical databases such as Historical Abstracts, Bibliography of British and Irish History, International Medieval Bibliography. > more
  3. Check out Databases A-Z for hundreds of databases, mostly full-text source materials, including early printed ebooks. Keep an eye on the New / Trial Databases section of the A-Z page for the most recent resources being made available. LibGuides for your subject can also be useful in highlighting key resources.
  4. Search the Internet Archive for digitised largely 19th century publications. Google Books or Gutenberg Project can also help.
  5. Search the National Emergency Library to borrow any of the 1.5 million digitised 20th century books. > more about this.
  6. Search ORA (Oxford’s institutional repository). List of UK HE institutional repositories.
  7. If you can’t find a book available as an e-book, then we may be able to purchase one, if it’s available. Complete the book recommendation form.
  8. Check out the LibGuide for details of our online newpaper resources.
  9. Digital Libraries, e.g. Digital.Bodleian with over 900,000 images of c 16,000 archival and rare books items. Also Europeana, DPLA (US), Gallica (France), DDB (Germany).
  10. Check the HFL Diigo for access to 1000+ history free web resources.
  11. Box of Broadcasts is a huge archive of off-air recordings from television and radio, which you can access via the Databases A-Z platform.

Besides the large collection of online book and article material, there are other resources you can use:

  1. Book reviews, for grasping the content of inaccessible books. You can find a selection of these on SOLO (use the Resource type facet on the left-hand menu and select Reviews), Reviews in History and scholarly sites such as H-NET.
  2. Publishers’ websites can also sometimes be helpful for more recently published material.
  3. Google a book or book chapter in case it is available in another University’s institutional repository or on the social media site of the author.
  4. Digitised theses which were later published as books. SOLO will list any digitised Oxford theses. Otherwise try ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (SSO required) and ETHos.
  5. Google other items to find extracts, chat, reviews, etc.

This is a growing list of resources and will be updated as new information becomes available. Thanks go to the History Faculty for providing many of these tips.

 

This is a growing list of resources and will be update as new information becomes available. Thanks go to the History Faculty for contributing to this list of tips.

Above all, please don’t hesitate to contact library staff. We are very busy but we are here to help you in this difficult time. Here is how you can get in touch with us:

Please look after yourselves and stay safe.

While you are here…

Tips on citing eresources

… Miss the library? Listen to the Soothing Sounds of the RadCam

National Emergency Library – temporary free access to 1.5m ebooks

[Since posting this blog post, concerns regarding the copyright relating to the National Emergency Library have been expressed. The Internet Archive has published their response at https://blog.archive.org/2020/03/30/internet-archive-responds-why-we-released-the-national-emergency-library/. Copyright laws vary across countries. Readers using the US-based Internet Archive and its National Emergency Library are therefore reminded that some digital ebooks may not comply with UK law and that they should use care and judgement when selecting books from NEL.]
I am delighted to share the news that the Internet Archive has created the
National Emergency Library stop support research and learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

In short, just under 1.5m books (but growing) are being made available, drawing on collections from selected US libraries. They are US-heavy (publishers and subjects) but tens of thousand of digitised books from the 20th century can be accessed. Many subjects are covered, including history.

NEL will be made available until 30 June or the end of the US national emergence, whichever is later.

 

For more background, see

Enormous thanks must go to US librarians and the Internet Archive for making this possible so quickly.

How to use it?
We are working on ways of making NEL titles easily discoverable in SOLO. Watch this space.
The digitised book can be viewed online or downloaded as pdfs to Adobe-compliant software.
Any questions? Check their FAQ.