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.

University of Kent visit experience

By Prof. Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja, the Head of Department of History at the University of Malaya (Kuala-Lumpur). He visited Kent, with his colleague, Dr. Abu Hanifa, on 19-26 March 2017.

Can you briefly describe your roles at the University of Malaya, and your area of research?

I am currently the Head, Department of History and have been in this position since 1 September 2015. As the head I am assigned with many tasks. I have been given the task of supporting the management’s role to raise the ranking of University Malaya internationally (World University Ranking) to make sure we would soon be one of the best 100 universities in the world. I am also tasked to plan and implement academic programmes at the department level; to plan staff recruitment for the department; to encourage research activities among staffs; to ensure the department meets its annual Key Performance Index (KPI) in terms of academic excellence, teaching and learning, research, publication and innovation, internationalization and networking, recognition and professional services, income generation, award, promotion initiatives and graduate employability. Finally, I am responsible to provide strong academic leadership in ensuring all academic staffs and higher degree students of the Department play their part to help achieve the KPI set by the university. For the academic staffs, their KPIs are decided based on the Standard Academic Performance Target (SAPT), which includes research, publication, supervision, teaching, consultation, administration and contribution to society/ social work. My visit to Kent is in line with the aim of the university to internationalize and to build networks for the progress of the department and the university as a whole.

My main area of specialization is in the field of Malaysian economic history. Nevertheless I am also working on a number of researches, some of which broadly include British imperial history in the late 19th and early 20th century, missionary activities in Malaya and Southeast Asia in the 19th century, contemporary Indians in Malaysia and British policy towards Tamil education in British Malaya.

How do you think the School of History at Kent and the Department of History at Malaya can work together?

I strongly feel both Departments could work in such areas as student exchange especially for the undergraduate level, exchanges of staffs specializing in Malaysia and Southeast Asian History, Research Collaboration/joint research activities, exchange of publications, reports and other academic materials and activities and programmes that are of mutual interest.

I believe for a start student exchange should be a good option because it will definitely benefit both parties. Malaysian students would be exposed to the teaching culture in Europe and the same goes for the students from Kent who will be here. This should be implemented immediately because the department has been offering courses in English and so does the faculty. Student could select a minimum of three courses to ensure it could be implemented soon. Students from Kent would be exposed to a new culture and will get an opportunity to visit the country and exposed to the Malaysia life style that truly reflects what is termed as “Malaysia Truly Asia”. Visiting Malaysia would give them the experience of witnessing three major civilizations mingling around in the country. With a cheaper Malaysian currency Kent students will have a good time in Malaysia.

Staff exchanges would be another area worth exploring. I notice much of the work done by the academics of Kent seems to focus on Europe and other continents and not on Southeast Asia. It is here where University Malaya’s History Department would be able to help. Our strength has been on Malaysian History and History of Southeast Asia. Staffs from both departments could embark on a joint research work in medical history, imperialism, technology transfer, education and etc. I had the chance to meet Mr. John Cocking who is working on Higher Education in Malaya under the supervision of Dr. Cohen. His visit to University Malaya and to the Department of History will give him the chance to interact with scholars who have worked on his research subject and also to explore sources in the Malaysian National Archives. I am sure that my academic staffs too will benefit through such collaboration. I have invited Mr. John Cocking to the department where we could house him in one of our academic rooms for a period of 6 months for him to conduct the research in Kuala Lumpur. Academics from both departments could also explore the possibility of co-authoring books or articles once this relation has been cemented and there is a confidence it would be a great success.

Another area, which the collaboration could be implemented without any hassle, is exchange of publications, reports and other academic materials. We would definitely like to learn from Kent’s experience in successfully implementing its undergraduate and postgraduate programs. For a start we have received the School of History Undergraduate Student handbook, 2015-2016 that informs us on how Kent undergraduates are managed. Such experiences are worth to be shared for enabling further enhancement of our departments. Our exchanges could also be in the form of newsletter, bulletin, department reports, articles and others. We could even create a link in our website highlighting our joint programmes, where it will bring to the attention of both sides on what we have and how we could benefit.

How have you found your trip to Kent?​

The trip was truly satisfying because it was well organised by Kent and what more with Dr. Phil Slavin and Dr. Mark Lawrence were there to welcome us when we arrived. They showed us the beautiful town of Canterbury, which has many major attractions to offer. The field trip was educational and enjoyable. We were accommodated at the House of Agnes, which was a pleasant surprise because it was nearby to all amenities and convenient also.

My colleague, Dr. Abu Hanifah, and I spent a whole day visiting the town and I must say it was a lovely experience. We were able to buy many academic books at a discounted price. Besides that we enjoyed the western and Indian cuisines that Canterbury had plenty to offer. Our breakfast at the House of Agnes was also great and on the whole the university staffs and the people of Kent were very hospitable during our stay there. We treasure our days in Kent and are looking forward for more such visits in the near future.

I must also say that visiting Canterbury also enlightened me on many things. As it turned out a habit for me to buy a book in any country that I visit, I bought a small book that deals about the town. The book, which is authored by Alexander Tulloch titled The Little Book of Kent, contains many interesting and fascinating information. First is the fact that there are more castles in Kent than any county in England. Second, King’s School, Canterbury was founded in AD 597 by St. Augustine and which is almost 1,000 years older than Eton. Finally, Ian Fleming who is from Bakesbourne, a village near Canterbury had allegedly given James Bond the code name 007 after the bus service that ran between Canterbury and London. Bus number 007 is still the one to catch if one were to travel from Canterbury to London.

I also enjoyed meeting many of the academic staffs of the Department. Dr. Juliette Pattinson who is the Head was kind and welcoming. She and her colleagues, Phil Slavin, Mark Lawrence, and Mr. Jon Beer were the first to brief us on the strength of the Department and suggested ways in which both departments could collaborate. Our meeting with Dr. Stefan Goebel and Dr. Andy Cohen was indeed enlightening because he dealt with the postgraduate programmes of the department and how the students were graded.

Meetings with the individual research head of the centres of History of Colonialism, Study of War, Propaganda and Society, Political Economies of International Commerce and History of Medicine, Ethics and Medical Humanities, were very meaningful and educative. I have gotten a clearer picture on the role of these centers and how we could collaborate with them. I believe our visit to the Department of History, University of Kent has helped us to understand our strength and the many ways we could foster a meaningful cooperation in the near future.

Dr. Mark Lawrence, Dr. Abu Hanifa, Dr. Philip Slavin and Prof. Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja

Jon Beer, Dr Juliette Pattinson, Dr Philip Slavin and Prof. Sivachandralingam Sundara Raja

Student trip to Rome

In early April 2017, Dr Emily Guerry took fourteen of her third-year students from her special subject module, ‘Saints, Relics, and Churches in Medieval Europe’ (HI 6058), on a four-day fieldtrip to explore the material culture of medieval Rome. The School of History generously subsidized the cost of travel and accommodation.

Testimonials

“When we arrived in the early evening, the students checked into their hostel near Termini and we all headed straight to the Forum to get a sense of the city of Rome– that still-smoking hearth of culture. Our itinerary was designed to proceed both chronologically and geographically through the development of the Christian capital so our first morning was packed with time spent in the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Museo, followed by an afternoon in the Pantheon (which was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the sixth century). Next, we examined the first major Rome house-church female cults located Santa Pudenziana, Santa Prassede, and ended our day with a special private tour of the loggia (with captivating city views) atop Santa Maria Maggiore on the Esquiline. On our second morning, we began by spending two hours inside the stunning church of San Clemente and descended into its many layers of archeological history. Then we ventured to the Lateran for private visit of SS Quattro Coronati thanks to the Augustinian nuns (and performed our very own re-staging of the Donation of Constantine), followed by a pilgrimage to the Sancta Sanctorum, wherein four enterprising students actually acquired an indulgence! We spent that in Trastevere to make a private visit– with generous thanks to the Clarissa nuns– to Pietro Cavallini’s monumental Last Judgment fresco in Santa Cecilia, which is said to embody the ‘turning point’ between the transformation of Gothic painting into the ‘Renaissance.’ We ended this special day by looking at the amazing spolia in Santa Maria in Trastevere– purportedly the earliest location for the Roman cult of the Virgin– and marveling at its resplendent medieval mosaics. We spent out last day wandering through the Vatican museums, where we came face to face with dozens of sacred and sublime objects from our course, including early Christian sarcophagi, cult statues, and even Michelangelo’s wall paintings in the Sistine Chapel. In the end, our trip was an awe-inspiring intellectual adventure. The students encountered and examined some of the most transformative examples of church architecture, painting, and sculpture in the history of art and architecture in Rome. We are all so grateful to the School of History, especially Jenny Humphrey, for providing us with this once in a lifetime opportunity.Grazie mille!

Students at the Foro Romano

Students examine Cavallini`s fresco

Students in the nave of Santa Pudenziana discuss the apse mosaic

Students reenact the ‘Donation of Constantine’ in SS Quattro Coronati

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.

Dr Higgitt presents the Transit of Venus 1874 digital collection

Dr Rebekah Higgitt introduces a digitised collection papers, photographs and drawings transit-of-venus-thumbnailrelating to the history of astronomy, now available at Cambridge Digital Library. Funded by the University of Kent and the British Society for the History of Science, her project has made items from the archive of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and a private collection available to the public. They focus on the British expeditions organised to observe the 1874 transit of Venus, particularly the one made to the Sandwich Islands (Hawai’i). The collection includes photographs of the observing instruments, huts and sites; details of the equipment and provisions taken overseas; official and private journals and a truly unique set of caricature drawings that follow the “Life and Adventures” of the Hawai’i observers.

To see the digitised papers click here.

Dr Ben Marsh appears on BBC World Service

Dr Ben Marsh featured on the BBC World Service’s History Hour this week, commenting on a story recalling the journey of a group of pioneers called The Donner Party, who were attempting to reach California by wagon when they were trapped by snow in the winter of 1846. Some were driven to cannibalism to survive, and their gruesome story has become a legend of the American West.

Listen again to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03bgxzt

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.

CHOTS Away Day 2015

Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, was the destination for this years' CHOTS away day

Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, was the destination for this years’ CHOTS away day

Staff from the Centre for the History of the Sciences (CHOTS) attended an Away Day at Down House in North Kent, the family home of scientist Charles Darwin, on Wednesday 3rd June.

Dr Rebekah Higgitt has written a blog post about the trip, which can be viewed over on the Centre’s Science Comma blog.

‘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.