Cultural Studies

The Toxin of Chernobyl
19 June 2019

Chernobyl, HBO’s latest hit mini-series, has thrust the catastrophic events of the infamous nuclear accident back into the public consciousness, prompting new discussions about how the disaster unfolded and who was ultimately accountable. Watching the series over the past few weeks, we here at Adam Matthew were reminded of a Soviet-made documentary we had seen in the online resource, Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda.

The Real Life Dumbo
23 May 2019

After a recent cinema trip to see Disney’s live-action retelling of the original 1941 film Dumbo, I was intrigued to find out more about the origins of the film and the circuses that rose to popularity in the nineteenth century, and what better place to look than our fascinating Victorian Popular Culture resource. 

Playing God: Richard Brinsley Peake and the Fate of Frankenstein on stage
26 April 2019

Last year marked 200 years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that has since become one of the premiere titles of Gothic fiction. Rivalled only by Bram Stokers Dracula, it has been adapted for film, television, radio, opera and the theatre.The first of these adaptations (at least those recorded) however, is perhaps just as influential as the novel which spawned it. Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption: Or the Fate of Frankenstein, is a three act play first performed in 1823 and is included in our Victorian Popular Culture collection. What is so astounding about this version however is that it features several elements not included in the novel which have reappeared consistently in subsequent adaptations.

 

Bear ahoy! 6 Moments of Soviet Kitsch
05 April 2019

This week Culture & Society, the third and final module of Socialism on Film, launches. Comprising documentaries produced in states such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and Vietnam, it touches on themes including the arts, sport, everyday life, youth and education, providing Western audiences an unparalleled insight into life behind the Iron Curtain. Rigorous and informative documentaries focussing on healthcare, women’s work, environmentalism and politics can also be found in this collection, but today, we hope you’ll forgive us a few moments of glorious kitsch.

Half a Century of Sport: Soviet sport on film
03 April 2019

Sport has many powers. It gives people purpose. It keeps us fit and healthy. It can unite a population and create waves of nationalism. And it can also be the answer to the question: how can a country as large as the Soviet Union raise its life expectancy from thirty-two years to nearly seventy within fifty years? According to the Soviet film Half a Century of Sport, credit for this remarkable achievement belongs to the sports program that was part of everyday life for millions of Soviet citizens.

A special guest blog by Dr Erin Redihan, Worcester State University.

Take a bow, the Front of House staff at Shakespeare’s Globe
07 March 2019

In the theatrical experiment that is the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, it’s said that the audience is one of the most important discoveries. In attempting to recreate the playing conditions of Shakespeare’s time, the Globe has up to 700 ‘groundlings’ in the uncovered yard that separates the stage from three tiers of seating.

Our Friend Angela Davis
01 March 2019

Spring has sprung here at Adam Matthew and as February draws to an end and March gets underway, we find ourselves dodging daffodils and rain showers at every turn. As well as a change of season, March 1st marks the close of (US) Black History Month and the dawn of Women’s History Month, two movements designed to promote figures marginalised by the traditional top-down historical narrative. With this in mind, it seems timely to share an intriguing propaganda piece about the African American woman and “enemy of the state” who toured Leonid Brezhnev’s USSR at the height of the Cold War.

Selling Romance: Valentine's Day and the American Store
15 February 2019

This week I delved into Trade Catalogues and the American Home, to explore how the concept of Valentine’s Day was sold to consumers in America over one hundred years ago.

 
Part 2: The Columbia River Maps and Meteorological Calculations of David Douglas: An Archival Discovery
29 January 2019

This is the second in a two-part blog in which David G. Lewis, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Native Studies at Oregon State University, tells the story of discovering some previously unknown documents from Pacific Northwest explorer David Douglas within Adam Matthew Digital's collection Age of Exploration.

Burns Night, from Aberdeen to Ayr
25 January 2019

Today is Robert Burns Day, and tonight, in celebration of the Scottish poet, village halls and pubs throughout Scotland will be decked in tartan and tables set for a hearty meal of cock-a-leekie soup and haggis.

The Columbia River Maps and Meteorological Calculations of David Douglas: An Archival Discovery
21 January 2019

This is the first in a two-part blog in which David G. Lewis, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Native Studies at Oregon State University, tells the story of discovering some previously unknown documents from Pacific Northwest explorer David Douglas within Adam Matthew Digital's collection Age of Exploration.

David Lewis wil be presenting more about his findings at ALA Midwinter 2019 on Saturday 26th January. If you are in attendance at the conference then come along to the Adam Matthew booth (#1012) at 11am and 2pm to hear more. 

New Year, New You? New Year Resolutions from the Mass Observation Archive.
18 January 2019

New year resolutions. You either decide to have them or you don’t. Nowadays it feels like there’s no escaping the obligation to quash bad habits and nurture new behaviours in their place. 

The London Frost Fairs
07 January 2019

Now that the temperatures are starting to drop, it seemed only fitting to take a moment to look back on the London frost fairs- a phenomenon born out of the extreme cold weather that was experienced in Britain during the Little Ice Age, which lasted from roughly 1300 to 1850. Having gained my first insight into the frost fair from an episode of Doctor Who in which a monster was lurking beneath the frozen River Thames, I decided to seek out more information about the story behind the fairs.

The Empire Writes Back: ‘Christmas in its true aspect’
21 December 2018

One of the many collections from Adam Matthew’s microfilm catalogue which we’ve digitised in 2018 – and also, I’m confident in asserting, the best-named – is The Empire Writes Back.

Christmas Greetings from the North Pole!
14 December 2018

The Adam Matthew Christmas party is imminent, with alcohol flowing, plenty of mingling and, of course, an abundance of food. Feeling festive, I decided to venture around AM Explorer, reflecting on Christmas parties and dinners over time and the difference between celebrations now and in times gone by. During this search, a rather unusual Christmas Day menu caught my eye from the Age of Exploration collection, for the crew on the Ziegler Polar Expedition, 1904.

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