Cultural Studies

Rough dust gold in a purple bagg: Pirate treasure in colonial America
28 August 2015

Over the past couple of months I’ve been spending most of my time indexing documents for our forthcoming Colonial America resource, which consists of British Colonial Office files from The National Archives, Kew. This material covers all aspects of life in the Thirteen Colonies and beyond, from the everyday administrative grind of council meetings and petitions about land rights to the more evocative subjects (from the comfortable vantage point of twenty-first-century Britain) of battles with the French, parlays with Indians, and pirates – or ‘pyrates’, as most writers of the time rather pleasingly spelled it.

Escape from Spandau Prison
21 August 2015

Migration to New Worlds: A Century of Immigration reminds me of a photo-mosaic. The resource sweeps across several cultures, tens of decades and thousands of miles to explore the mass migration of peoples in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but this rich narrative is actually comprised of a multitude of stories of the individuals, families and communities that decided to up sticks and ship themselves off to a whole new life.

Brawls, Duels and Marsupials. A Voyage to Tasmania
14 July 2015

On 12 March 1838, a young surgeon by the name of Dr John Hanchett joined the ship Henry at St Katherine Dock, bound for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). His journal survives in the archives of the Maritime Museum of Tasmania and paints a vivid account of the trials and tribulations encountered during four months at sea, the relations between crew and passengers and the leisure activities on board an early Victorian emigrant ship. What follows is a potted account of his trip.

World's Fairs: An International Obsession
23 June 2015

As my interest in World’s Fairs creeps ever closer to obsession, my expectations were sky high when, last month, I was lucky enough to attend EXPO 2015 in Milan, the current incarnation of the centuries-old tradition of World’s Fairs. In light of our forth-coming resource, World’s Fairs: A Global History of Expositions, I was fascinated to see how modern expos compared to the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851, or the futuristic fair of New York in 1964, and experience something comparable to these phenomenally influential historical events.

Jurassic World's Fairs: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Expos
11 June 2015

There are several avid fans of the Jurassic Park film series here at Adam Matthew. Listening to colleagues’ tales of being young and watching the movie for the first time and the awe they felt at the sight of the dinosaurs brought to life reminded me of the fairs of not so long ago and the dinosaurs that captured imaginations even then.

A Right Royal Welcome: Liverpool Celebrates with Cunard's Three Queens
26 May 2015

Liverpool has a lot to be proud of. A vibrant city with a rich heritage, Liverpool has brought us The Beatles, world class football, and striking architecture such as the Liver Building and Metropolitan Cathedral. Liverpool’s docks also carry the city’s legacy as a world famous port. With over 50 ports built along 7 miles over the last 300 years, Liverpool became a hub for commercial shipping and a key location for those wishing to migrate to and from the UK.

“An invention without a future”? The re-opening of the Regent Street Cinema
07 May 2015

Regent Street Cinema, the venue for the first public screening of Louis and Auguste Lumière’s Cinématographe in Britain on the 20th February 1896, has re-opened this week after being restored to its former glory. The small, single-screen cinema, originally part of the Royal Polytechnic Institution at what is now the Regent Street campus of the University of Westminster, was closed to the public in 1980 and has since served as a lecture theatre for the university.

Milan 2015 and the Legacy of World's Fairs
13 April 2015

If ever there was a way to twist my arm and persuade me to visit romantic, historic Milan this summer, the prospect of a huge, international celebration of food is a pretty convincing one. Expo Milan 2015 is just such an event, but my primary interest is not in pizza (honest), but in Expo 2015’s place in the legacy of World’s Fairs.

I wonder which is father...
01 April 2015

The guidelines for creating the archetypal ‘advertisement’, be it on television or in written form, seemed to me to be relatively straightforward; ensure clear product placement, create an element of desirability and use clear, bold branding.

Britain's Banished Men
27 March 2015

BBC Two’s newest period drama Banished sheds light on the lives of the first penal colony established in Australia. The likes of Russell Tovey, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and MyAnna Buring portray the lives of convicts and soldiers trying to serve their time and get by in the wilds of New South Wales. Life seems incredibly brutal in this environment and one would imagine the real lives of the first convicts and soldiers would have been terribly difficult.

Anyone for a Guinness?
17 March 2015

A global phenomenon, few patron saints are as enthusiastically celebrated as St. Patrick. Credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland’s pagans in the fourth century, he has since become a symbol of Irish patriotism. And it doesn’t seem to matter much where you are in the world on 17 March ¬– chances are you’ll be encouraged to wear green, don your fanciest shamrock brooch and gulp down gallons of Guinness.

Close-up, fade-out clinch; the world’s greatest kiss!
23 January 2015

When American innovator, Thomas Alva Edison, and his British predecessor, Eadweard Muybridge, set themselves the grand task of inventing a device that could capture movement on film, they surely could not have predicted the social, ethical and moral repercussions that would surface and surround moving pictures from that point onwards.

It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas
28 November 2014

Intense debate has broken out among sections of the Adam Matthew staff this week following the decision to open our box of Christmas decorations. A number of employees have steadfastly refused to go near the festive items before December 1st. Others have insisted that the extra cheer they bring justifies their appearance in November, though suspicions remain that this is a ruse in order to get first call on the choicest tinsel.

Aliens, Conspiracy and Abduction: UFO tales from the 1950’s Underground Press
24 October 2014

After a BBC story about a UFO today, it got me thinking about how the UFO phenomenon was handled in the 1950’s and onwards.

Nelson Mandela the ‘Champion of African Nationalism’ and a Changed South Africa
02 October 2014

As many of us have been gripped in recent months by the ongoing trial of Oscar Pistorius, a little over fifty years ago the eyes of the world were again trained on a high profile South African court case. At the height of the Apartheid era, in 1964, ten leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) stood accused of a number of charges, including acts of sabotage, which was, in extreme cases, punishable by death. In what was known as the Rivonia Trial, one of the accused was a man called Nelson Mandela.

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