Cultural Studies

Preserving sea shanties: Ancient chorals beyond the memory of men
22 January 2021

2021 is the year of the sea shanty and we at Adam Matthew have proven less than immune to the glorious sounds of bearded postmen and Tik-tokers harmonising from far and wide across the land. Inundated with renditions of drunken sailors, The Wellerman and a variety of unexpected remixes, I set course to find some historic examples from the golden age of sail.

Madame d'Aulnoy - a fairytale life?
15 January 2021

Children’s Literature and Culture, which launched last year, is packed with wonderful adventures and fantastical stories. Surprisingly, though, some of the most captivating and colourful narratives come not from the books, but from the lives of the authors who wrote them. Today I would like to look at one of my favourite authors from Children’s Literature and Culture, the pioneering fairy-tale writer Marie-Catherine le Jumel de Barneville, commonly known as Madame d’Aulnoy.

Advertising and Christmas
17 December 2020

The festive season has many attractions and can evoke many emotions depending on what you like: there’s the family time, the food, the time off, the music, the holiness, the general atmosphere of nostalgia, warm emotion and, of course, the presents and gift giving.

Tablegrams from Nancy Best: Tips and Tricks for your Festive Preparations
20 November 2020

As we approach the end of November, most of us will be beginning to think about our Christmas shopping, baking our Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings and starting to stock up on all the festive treats that we enjoy over the Christmas period. Having recently started some of my own festive preparations and with Christmas very much on my mind, I turned to our Food and Drink in History resource for a little bit of festive food inspiration.

Shake not your heads, nor say the Lady's mad: A very Byronic bonfire
06 November 2020

A perennial favourite of the autumn calendar, Bonfire Night – or Guy Fawkes’ – passed quietly in lockdown yesterday with nary a whiff of gunpowder nor plotting on the cold November air. It is not to the attempted parliamentary fireworks of 1605 that I turn today, however, but another bonfire, both literal and literary.

Primary Inspiration
23 October 2020

It’s been hard to get the creative juices flowing this year, that overwhelming sense of anxiety about the world in general was stifling to say the least. However, the acknowledgements at the end of Colson Whitehead's The Nickle Boys got me thinking...

16 October 2020

“Pink Pills for Pale People!” is the excited announcement from a leaflet that can be found in Popular Medicine in America 1800-1900. If, like me, you’re wondering whether the pink pills make people pale, or pale people pink, or perhaps that this much alliterative pinkness is beyond the pale...well, you might be right.

Domestic Science: Revolutionising the Salad
14 October 2020

When I first started working on the Food & Drink in History resource, I immediately became obsessed with molded jelly salads. This food fashion fascinates me, so I leapt at the chance to dig deeper.

Eliza Leslie: A Publishing Powerhouse
25 September 2020

This month we’ve been celebrating the release of two resources: Children’s Literature and Culture, and the second module of Food & Drink in History. I was lucky enough to work on commissioning documents for both titles, and one of the best parts of my job is making connections between our resources – connections across history.

It's September – Roll On Christmas!
09 September 2020

Even if you’ve never heard the term “Christmas creep”, chances are you’ll be familiar with the concept. September has only just begun and already you’re noticing Christmas-themed merchandise in the mall and on the outer fringes of the high street.

“What have the Romans ever done for us?”: Highlights from Food and Drink in History Module 2
09 September 2020

This week marks the publication of Module 2 of Food and Drink in History, which adds a wealth of new material to a resource which spans centuries and offers users a unique lens through which to explore food histories, cultures and traditions from around the globe.

Is blood thicker than water? Friends, Relatives and Neighbours from the Mass Observation Project
04 September 2020

“An old adage maintains that “blood is thicker than water” but this must have been proven false countless times, as such ties are no guarantee of help in adversity.” Ouch! Old friends, neighbours and relatives are at the centre of our support networks – particularly in times of adversity. This was the topic that participants in the Mass Observation Project were asked to write about in the winter of 1984. How would they weigh up ‘relatives versus friends’?

Exposition Universelle: A Trip to 1889 Paris with World’s Fairs
02 September 2020

World Fairs were events that involved huge scale expositions from countries all over the world, which showed off their innovations and inventions. From the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle, to the invention of television, chewing gum and hot dogs, these fairs created a legacy. Adam Matthew’s World’s Fairs resource represents over 200 fairs, and there are 10 core collections that relate to 12 ‘case study’ expositions. With so much daydreaming about holidays and getaways, I thought I would take myself on a virtual trip to 1889 Paris, around the Exposition Universelle.

Five Vicarious Vacations
19 August 2020

Holidaymakers the world over have put their passports away this summer as the global pandemic continues to make international travel difficult, if not entirely impossible. In an effort to recreate that holiday feeling I’ve been seeking inspiration for future trips in some of the documents published in Leisure, Travel and Mass Culture - The History of Tourism.

Fancy a Cuppa? An Insight into Tea Drinking Habits from the Mass Observation Project
30 July 2020

Four months on from us Brits going into lockdown, the BBC has reported that we have splurged on tea, biscuits and good books.  I have delved into the directives in Adam Matthew’s newly released Mass Observation Project, to take a look at tea drinking habits in the 1980s. One thing for sure is that there is always an occasion for a cuppa.

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