[posted by Gavin Robinson, 9:18 am, 5 February 2012]
I’m planning to finish my Winter in Windsor series of posts while it’s still winter, but in the meantime here are some links:
Skulking in Holes and Corners is a relatively new blog by Jamel Ostwald, who has written a book about Vauban and is writing another about Marlborough. The blog ‘hopes to facilitate communication between the rarest of beasts, early modern European military historians (EMEMHians – but please give me a better idea for a name)’. He’s made a very good start, so go and read it, comment on it and link to it.
My book is going to be published on 21 August 2012, and you can already read the blurb. Just proofreading and indexing to go.
Andrew Hickey has written a brilliant short story about Shakespeare which skewers the snobbery of Oxfordian conspiracy theories.
Ben Brumfield reports on the 2012 American Historical Association conference from a software developer’s perspective.
History SPOT has a podcast of Ben Worthy’s IHR seminar paper on the impact of the Freedom of Information Act.
Zotero 3.0 has been released. It can now run as a standalone program as well as a Firefox extension and has lots of new features. I couldn’t have written my book as quickly (or at all?) without Zotero to manage my bibliography and citations.
The latest version of the Spotify client crashes whenever I search for Kim Carnes. Bug or feature?
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 9:54 am, 1 January 2011]
I’ve just finished writing an essay for a collection called The Horse as Cultural Icon: the Real and Symbolic Horse in the Early Modern World, edited by Peter Edwards and Elspeth Graham, which will be published by Brill (I’m not sure exactly when, but probably within the next twelve months). My chapter is called ‘The military value of horses and the social value of the horse in early-modern England’. It’s quite eclectic, mixing numbers from empirical research with words like semiotics and simulacrum, ranging from Milton and Shakespeare to anonymous scatological poems and cheap woodcuts. I took Bruce Boehrer’s essay ‘Shakespeare and the Social Devaluation of the Horse’ as a starting point and worked outwards, looking at how the middling sort appropriated the horse and how the elite tried to make it more exclusive. Although it’s mostly about the 16th and 17th centuries I went back into the middle ages and forward to the First World War to show how the social and cultural roles of horses aren’t necessarily related to the reality of war. I’ve cited Stephen Badsey and David Kenyon for proof that cavalry were still useful in the 20th century and that there was and is an awful lot of prejudice against them; and I’ve cited Michael Prestwich and Anne Curry to show that 14th and 15th century men-at-arms were flexible all-rounders and that only a minority of them were knights. By taking a longer view than most previous works on early-modern horses I’m trying to break out of a vaguely Marxist master narrative in which The Transition From Feudalism To Capitalism and the increasing use of gunpowder doomed the knight on his charger and gave the aristocracy an identity crisis, and in which social, economic and military base determines cultural superstructure. Rather than marking a turning point, Shakespeare’s treatment of horses and chivalry in Henry V seems to be part of a debate which was already going on in the 14th century, was still going on throughout the 17th century, and is perhaps still going on now. Cultural beliefs that cavalry were useless seem to be independent of how useful cavalry actually were.
The best thing is that I’ve used the phrase “order of magnitude” correctly and appropriately. I shouldn’t feel so pleased about this, but I get so annoyed by other historians misusing it to mean “quite a lot”.
Meanwhile I’m taking a break from posting here for a month or two (or maybe three) while I finish the first draft of my book. Before too long I’ll have made the inevitable transition from “oh no, I won’t be able to write enough” to “oh no, I’ve written too much”.
Bruce Boehrer, “Shakespeare and the social devaluation of the horse,” in The Culture of the Horse, ed. Karen L. Raber and Treva J. Tucker (New York; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
[posted by Gavin Robinson, 12:09 pm, 1 November 2006]
Beginning Shakespeare (2005; ISBN: 0719064236) is a brief and accessible introduction to Shakespeare criticism aimed at first year undergraduates. I had high hopes for it because it’s in the same series as Peter Barry’s excellent Beginning Theory (2002; ISBN: 0719062683), which I found very useful and informative despite (or perhaps because of) it being written for first year English Literature undergraduates. Beginning Shakespeare turned out to be not quite as good. Although I got some valuable things out of it, there are some shortcomings which can’t all be explained away by it being a basic introduction for 18 year olds.