Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality

On Tuesday 6 June, both the School of History and Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) of the University of Kent are delighted to welcome Professor Paul Binski (Cambridge) for a free public lecture in the Clagett Auditorium of the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge from 6.30–7.30PM.

The title of his paper is Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality

This lecture will examine the art provoked by the drama of Thomas Becket’s Life, Death and Sanctity. It will look at Becket’s place amongst the other saints of England and Europe, and particularly at the idea of personality cult and charisma. How did such things impact on the way saints were represented in the Gothic age and what difference did Becket make?

Please visit the lecture event page for more details.

The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union

On 22 June 2017 the University of Kent’s School of History and Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will be hosting an international conference ‘The ‘British’ churches 1603-1707: from dynastic union to Anglo-Scottish union‘.

The two-day conference, timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the launching of the Five Articles of Perth by James VI & I in Scotland in 1617, is held in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church University and its Centre for Kent History and Heritage.

All conference sessions will take place in Keynes College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus and aim to bring together scholars with an interest in religion across the British Isles during the 17th century.

The Conference will also include the official launch party for Dr Leonie James’s new book – ‘This Great Firebrand’: William Laud and Scotland 1617-45 (Boydell Press, 2017).

Further information about the Conference including a programme and registration details can be found on its dedicated webpage.

The Dutch in the Medway, 1667 – Anglo-Dutch rivalry in its global context

An International Conference in the Royal Dockyard Church, Historic Dockyard Chatham

Friday 30 June & Saturday 1 July 2017

The 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the Chatham and The English Fleet lying in the Medway, which saw Dutch raiders capture the Royal Charles, flagship of King Charles II’s Navy, will be commemorated at an international conference in the Historic Dockyard’s Royal Dockyard Church on Saturday 1 July.  The programme will include talks by naval historians from the UK and The Netherlands and a private viewing of ‘Breaking the Chain’, the Historic Dockyard’s summer exhibition which explores the events of 1667 with material from a wide range of British & Dutch organisations.

Battle of Chatham - van der Stoop

Battle of Chatham – van der Stoop

The conference will explore the rethinking of foreign policy and national naval strategy and the importance of the Medway, reflecting the shift of maritime supremacy from the Dutch to the British during the eighteenth century.  Colonial trading rivalries throughout the world were the outer ripples of this dynamic and an integral part of the whole story, with the international repercussions of the Dutch wars in the seventeenth century leading to the beginnings of an identifiably modern European structure which has many resonances today.

The conference will begin at 6pm on Friday 30 June with an open lecture in the Royal Dockyard Church by Jeroen van der Vliet of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, followed by a reception.

Bookings can be made for the entire event (lecture and reception on Friday evening and conference on Saturday), just the conference on Saturday or just the Friday evening lecture and reception. For further details and to register, please visit https://www.kent.ac.uk/history/events/conferences/dutchmedway1667.html

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is the world’s most complete dockyard of the age of sail and is easily accessible by road and rail – including High Speed services from London.

History Repeated: 2016 in Historical Context – A Roundtable Discussion

The events of 2016 will no doubt go down in history.

On Wednesday 16 November the School of History will be hosting a roundtable discussion putting the events of 2016 into a broader historical context. Academics from the School will discuss the legacies of European revolutions, the impact of the Great Depression, and the rise of Nazism and Stalinism,  through to the constitutional crises of the twenty-first century. What do these events tell us about the strength and weaknesses of democratic politics and moral values? Why do ideologies of hate and division seem to thrive in times of economic crises? Can a historical approach help us to develop a response to contemporary events?

All are welcome to explore these ideas in this discussion, and to join academics in the School to consider these issues over a glass of wine and snacks.

For more information, please contact either Dr Mark Hurst (M.R.L.Hurst@kent.ac.uk) or Professor Ulf Schmidt (U.I.Schmidt@kent.ac.uk).

A truck loaded with a 'Vote for Trump' sign.

Obituary: Antony Copley

Antony Copley

Antony Copley

Antony Copley, a loyal member of the School of History, died on 18 July 2016.

Antony saw active service during the Suez Crisis, then studied at Oxford and taught at Bangor before joining the University of Kent in 1967. He specialised in 19th century French and Indian history and retired in 2002 as a Reader.

He remained an active member of the School and University, attending events and continuing to research and write books, including Music and the Spiritual: Composers and Politics in the 20th Century (2012). He also generously sponsored the Copley Prize for the best final year history dissertation, and enjoyed judging them and presenting the prize itself.

In 2014 Antony became an honorary Professor of Modern European and Indian History, which gave him much pleasure. Last year he published his autobiography, A Memoir: Historian and Homosexual: Search for a Postwar Identity. He will be much missed by those who knew him.

Kenneth Fincham, School of History

Antony’s funeral will take place at St Clement’s Church, Sandwich, at 15.30 on Tuesday 2 August. A memorial service will be arranged in Canterbury in the autumn.

Update: 3rd August 2016

An obituary written by Lavinia and Dan Cohn-Sherbok appeared in The Guardian on Monday 1st August 2016 – Antony Copley obituary.

← Back to the School of History website.

Secret Science: A Century of Posion Warfare and Human Experiments

Ulf Schmidt Secret Science CoverProfessor Ulf Schmidt’s latest book Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments has been used to inform an episode of BBC World Service’s Witness radio series.

Since acting as a principle expert witness on informed consent in the 2004 Inquest looking into the death of Ronald Maddison, a twenty-year-old Royal Air Force engineer who died after being exposed to a nerve agent at Porton Down in 1953, Professor Schmidt has researched and written about the history of medical ethics and national security in post-war British and European societies.

His latest work, Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments, provides a comprehensive history of chemical and biological weapons research in Britain and North America by incorporating previously top secret military, scientific, and government archival material with interviews with servicemen and scientists whilst recognising developments in global debates on medical ethics.

Professor Schmidt’s research has also been used to inform an episode of BBC World Service’s Witness on Chemical Weapons Tests at Porton Down.

Update 09/07/2015:

Professor Schmidt’s research has appeared as a major news item on the University of Kent website and in The Independent newspaper.

Secret Science is published by Oxford University Press and more information can be found on the publisher’s catalogue.

50th Anniversary History Projects – Witness Seminar

A group of University of Kent students in the 1970sAs part of the School of History’s 50th Anniversary History Projects, we are holding a Witness Seminar on the evening of Monday 8 June 2015 from 6:30-7:45pm in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1. This will take the form of a roundtable discussion, with past and present staff and students of the University exploring some of their experiences at Kent over the years.

The seminar will be chaired by Juliette Pattinson, Reader of History, and will include the following panellists:

  • Amy Harrison – 2nd year undergraduate student reading for a BA in History
  • Tim Luckhurst – Professor of Journalism and Head of the University’s Centre for Journalism
  • David Nightingale – Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Senior Lecturer in Ancient History
  • Doreen Rosman – A former Lecturer in History at Kent

The panel will be discussing their time at Kent, and audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and share their own experiences. The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception and buffet to launch an exhibition of student volunteers’ work on the University’s history to date in the Aphra Foyer (Grimond Building).

If you cannot make it along on the evening, the exhibition will be running from Monday 8 through to Friday 12 June, and we hope you can enjoy our volunteers work.

For more information about the event or the exhibition, please contact Dr Mark Hurst, M.R.L.Hurst@kent.ac.uk.

More information about the History Projects and celebration events can be found on the special University of Kent 50th anniversary website.

‘Never Complain, Never Explain’: British Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century

Professor Gaynor Johnson to deliver KIASH Inaugural Professorial Lecture

The Foreign Office Locarno Suite: ‘Drawing room for the Nation’.

The Foreign Office Locarno Suite: ‘Drawing room for the Nation’.

The School of History’s Professor Gaynor Johnson will present the latest lecture in the KIASH Inaugural Professorial Lecture series on Wednesday 20th May at 6pm in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1, located on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus.

Professor Gaynor JohnsonThe aim of this lecture is to offer an overview of the principal trends in the evolution of international history as a sub-discipline of history. To examine its relation to other areas of history and to place it within the wider context of other subject areas that also examine how states relate to one another, for example, international relations and law.’ The lecture will then explore some of the main historiographical debates on twentieth century British foreign policy and what they reveal about how much we know or otherwise about those subjects. Finally, some thoughts will be offered about the direction in which the study of recent British foreign policy is likely to develop.’

– Professor Gaynor Johnson

Titled ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’: British Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century, Professor Johnson’s lecture is a free event, open to all and will be followed by a drinks reception in the foyer of the Grimond Building.

For more information about this and other School of History events please visit our events calendar.

For more information about Professor Johnson please visit her profile on the School of History website.

A poster for the event is now available to download (pdf).

Update: Professor Johnson’s inaugural lecture is now available as a podcast (mp3).

An accompanying presentation is also available to download (pdf)

VE Day: First Days of Peace

Dr Julie Anderson appears on BBC documentary discussing postwar recuperation in South-East England

As part of the BBC’s coverage of the 70th anniversary of VE Day the School of History’s Dr Julie Anderson appeared on an episode of the BBC series VE Day: First Days of Peace providing expert analysis on recuperation in South-East England in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The beach at Margate, Kent in July 1946

The beach at Margate, Kent in July 1946

Dr Anderson, whose publications include ‘Soul of a nation’: War, Disability and Rehabilitation in Britain (Manchester University Press, 2011), was filmed at Margate’s Royal Sea Bathing Hospital discussing the Open Air Movement with the author, Anthony Horowitz.

You can see Dr Anderson’s appearance via the BBC iPlayer until 11th June 2015.