Cultural Studies

The Sinking of the 'Essex’; or, The Whale
03 January 2014

Last night‚Äôs BBC drama ‚ÄėThe Whale‚Äô told the story of Thomas Nickerson and the crew of the whaling ship Essex. The story of the attack and sinking of the vessel by a sperm whale also inspired Herman Melville‚Äôs Moby Dick. Reading the original accounts of the crew shows that the true story was more exciting, terrifying and harrowing than any work of fiction.

A Quiet Christmas: Mass Observation and Wartime Festivities
03 January 2014

With shortages in nearly everything considered necessary for a ‚Äėproper‚Äô Christmas, Mass Observers during WW2 needed to balance the traditions of the festive season with the strictures and austerity of wartime. Mass Observation set out in a series of reports to gauge not only the morale of the population, but how war would affect their festivities.

Kung-Fu Monthly and the Felix Dennis Legacy
18 December 2013

On a recent visit to the in-laws‚Äô we passed a verge of trees in Warwickshire just west of Leamington Spa that was pointed out to me as ‚ÄúFelix Dennis‚Äôs forest‚ÄĚ. Most familiar with Felix Dennis as the creator of the magazine Maxim and the first person to say a certain very bad word on British television, I was surprised. As it turns out, the site belongs to The Heart of England Forest, a charity created to maintain and preserve native...

Who Killed JFK?
18 December 2013

Bowling Green State University At 12.30pm on Friday 22 November 1963, three shots rang out over Dealey Plaza Park in Dallas. Lee Harvey Oswald had fired three 6.5mm Carcano bullets from the sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository, two of which struck President John F. Kennedy. Thirty minutes later JFK was dead. That’s the official story. The Warren Commission set up to investigate President Kennedy’s death...

Commodities of the China Trade: Bechè de Mer, Shark Fins and Gold
18 December 2013

Below I have shared one of my personal highlights from China, America and the Pacific, which has just been released. This new multi-library collection provides an extensive range of archival material connected to the trading and cultural relationships that emerged between China, America and the Pacific region between the 18th and early 20th centuries. During the eighteenth century American merchants sought to establish trade with China. Their...

Silence is Golden...
18 December 2013

Whilst visiting the big smoke last weekend I witnessed one of cinema‚Äôs greatest triumphs ‚Äď Abel Gance‚Äôs thrilling six hour silent epic, Napoleon. Now, I have to admit, I was slightly sceptical. Six hours of silent cinema does not sound like the best use of a frosty Saturday in November, but the 1927 film opened my eyes to the vibrancy and passion of early cinema. Napoleon (played by Albert Dieudonn√©) tells the story of the first 27 years of...

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