History Speaker

[SPEAKER] Keep Calm and Carry On: Visualising the People’s War in Posters

As the ceremony from Theipval, commemorating the Battle of the Somme, plays in the background, it reminded me that I’d not posted my slides from a session I presented to the Visual Culture Research Group at MMU on Wednesday afternoon, in which I gave an overview of my book proposal to convert my PhD to publication (very slow progress, yes!).

My presentation came after Jim Aulich had talked about social visual media and the persistence of images, finding comparisons between, for example, the image of Alan Kurdi, and comparisons with religious iconography. Both presentations considered why certain images have meanings, and persist.

In my presentation, it seemed particularly pertinent that this presentation came the week after #Brexit, as we discussed how Keep Calm and Carry On has in many ways detached from its original context, but that the story does affect how people engage with it, that my Google Alerts for the phrase has produced much more interesting content this week than it has for the last couple of weeks, as people once again cling onto the phrase!

Visual Culture Group: Keep Calm and Carry On Book Overview from Bex Lewis
Academic Digital

[STORIFY] #VSMLConf: Picturing the Social Conference

Excellent conference today:


Who's Online and What are they Doing?

With a PhD in wartime posters, and a real joy in using social media, is it any surprise that I love infographics?!  London Transport of course was one of the first to use short-hand graphics in their iconic Underground map, and much graphic design relies upon visual representations of information, data or knowledge, with the visual providing a shorthand, enabling complex information to be understood clearly and easily.

@Jas collects some great “infoporn“, and today I came across 15 great infographics from @econsultancy (building upon an entry they made in December 2009)…. A response to this blog also alerted me to “Visual Loop” – great images – as the oft quoted phrase has it – “a picture speaks a thousand words” – and I wonder if we can see the social media effect at work here!


Rude Britannia

Rude Britannia: A History Most Satirical, Bawdy, Lewd and Offensive

“Series exploring British traditions of satire and bawdy and lewd humour begins in the early 18th century and finds in Georgian Britain a nation openly, gloriously and often shockingly rude.

It includes a look at the graphic art of Hogarth, Gillray, Rowlandson and George Cruikshank and the rude theatrical world of John Gay and Henry Fielding. Singer Lucie Skeaping helps show the Georgian taste for lewd and bawdy ballads, and there is a dip into the literary tradition of rude words via the poetry of Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift and Lord Byron, and Laurence Sterne’s novel Tristram Shandy.”

“Europeans have always thought the British a peculiarly cussed and impolite people, and from the eighteenth century onwards the British have enjoyed a unique liberty to earn that reputation. In the eighteenth century even the greatest were satirised with venom – royal family included.

Prosecutions for libel were few, and the ideals of ‘English liberty’ were thought to distinguish Britain from more absolutist and censoring countries, so most satirists got away with it. Although this great tradition was weakened in the ‘respectable’ nineteenth century, the tradition bequeathed by satirists like the writer Jonathan Swift or caricaturists like James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and the young George Cruikshank has lasted into our own day.

Professor Vic Gatrell – Historian and Author of ‘City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth Century London’.”

The power of visual culture! See the BBC’s Rude Britannia Website (where you can catch up on the first programme, and get ready for the next).


The History Boys

The following questions (The History Boys) were posed to my group on ‘Creating and Consuming History’ today as they watched Alan Bennett’s film ‘The History Boys’. This film could be analysed from a number of perspectives (film theory, feminist/gender theory, aesthetics, narrative, film history, teacher training, etc), but on this occasion we were looking for a consideration of ‘what is history’, which is spelled out from different perspectives by a number of different characters from the film ((is it just “one f****** thing after another as Rudge says, or “facts, facts, facts” as Totty says, or.. please summarise other character perspectives), and also ideas of what it is appropriate to teach in history lessons (e.g. is the holocaust just another topic, and should we remain detached, or are our emotions important) and ideas of memorialisation (we don’t place memorials to remember, we place memorials to forget). A further opportunity would be to reflect upon the film from the perspective of a fictional film of a historical era, and how such things were depicted when the film was made in 2005/6.

I thought that we’d get around 10 minutes to discuss the film, but the projector took 10 minutes to warm up, and the film was around 10 minutes longer than I’d calculated (maths has never been my strong subject), so I would like to encourage students to read the IMDB Review, and provide feedback, comments and debate upon this blog! No, this is NOT assessed (a point that made itself clearly known in the film), but will provide you with an interesting exercise in developing your critical skills in engaging with historical material.