Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Fourth edition

Colin Rogers

The long-awaited fourth edition of this best-selling manual continues to offer up-to-date guidance both to newcomers and to the more experienced, on how to make best use of the labyrinth of genealogical sources in England and Wales. It takes into account recent, and even some future, changes to the civil registration system, and incorporates many of the vast sources newly available on the internet. There is also a substantial bibliography for those who discover that their ancestors migrated from other countries. New appendices provide research into underregistration of birth and death, and hitherto unpublished details from the 1915 and 1939 National Registers.

The family tree detective remains an indispensible source of information on how to locate births, marriages and deaths, and alternative strategies if those searches fail.

Dr Colin D. Rogers is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists, a member of AGRA (the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives), and was for thirty years the Hon. General Editor of the Lancashire Parish Register Society. He runs a consultancy helping banks and solicitors to identify and locate beneficiaries.

Friday, 5 December 2008


Liverpool's inconvenient imperial past

Edited by Sheryllynne Haggerty, Anthony Webster & Nicholas J. White

From the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century, Liverpool was frequently referred to as the ‘second city of the empire’. Yet, the role of Liverpool within the British imperial system and the impact on the city of its colonial connections remain underplayed in recent writing on both Liverpool and the empire. However, ‘inconvenient’ this may prove, this specially-commissioned collection of essays demonstrates that the imperial dimension deserves more prevalence in both academic and popular representations of Liverpool’s past.

Indeed, if Liverpool does represent the ‘World in One City’ – the slogan for Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2008 – it could be argued that this is largely down to Merseyside’s long-term interactions with the colonial world, and the legacies of that imperial history.

Click on the title above for more information on this book.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Just arrived into the office....

The visionary imagination in late Victorian literature
by Catherine Maxwell

This challenging and important study, which examines a range of canonical and less well-known writers, is an innovative reassessment of late Victorian literature in its relation to visionary Romanticism.

It examines six late Victorian writers – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Walter Pater, Vernon Lee, Eugene Lee-Hamilton, Theodore Watts-Dunton and Thomas Hardy – to reveal their commitment to a Romantic visionary tradition which surfaces towards the end of the nineteenth century in response to the threat of a growing materialism. Offering detailed and imaginative readings of both poetry and prose, Second Sight shows the different ways in which late Victorian writers move beyond materiality, though without losing a commitment to it, to explore the mysterious relation between the seen and the unseen.

For more information, please click on the title above.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Just arrived into the office...

The origins of winter tourism in Switzerland 1860–1914
Susan Barton

The first winter visitors to the Swiss Alps began to arrive in the 1860s and were encouraged to take outdoor exercise as part of their cure regime. They also had healthy visitors and companions who sought recreation while the invalids were resting as part of the sanatoria routine.

Demonstrating that this is not just part of the history of Switzerland but of Britain too, biographical backgrounds of British visitors to the resorts give depth and context to a history of health and winter sports tourism by looking at the kind of people who would spend months of the year in the Alps. A discussion of the application of modern technologies creates an overall view of the growth of health and sports tourism in Switzerland.


Susan Barton is currently promoting the release of the book via a short tour in Switzerland. She is visiting Leysin and signing copies of the book at the Atelier-Boutique, Gare du Feydey. The book is on a special promotional offer of half price at the shop.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Just arrived into the office....

Lord Leverhulme, soap and civilisation

Brian Lewis

This book is an unorthodox biography of William Hesketh Lever, 1st Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925), the founder of the Lever Brothers’ Sunlight Soap empire. Unlike previous biographies, which have focused on the man’s life story and eccentricities, or just considered one aspect of his career, So clean places him squarely in his social and cultural context and is fully informed by recent historical scholarship.

Much more than a warts-and-all biography, the book uses Lever as an entry-point for contextualized and comparative essays on the history of advertising; on factory paternalism, town planning, the Garden City movement and their ramifications across the twentieth century; and on colonialism and forced labour in the Belgian Congo and the South Pacific. It concludes with a discussion of his extraordinary attempt, in his final years, to transform crofting and fishing in the Outer Hebrides.

For more information, please click on the title above.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


Kieron O’Hara
University of Southampton

Strange things happen in politics, but at the time of writing, John McCain winning the US Presidency would be one of the strangest. There are many reasons why he is up against it, George Bush and Sarah Palin being two of them. But for me, the most telling is that McCain built a career around personal integrity and unwillingness to bend for party advantage (which nearly got him the nomination in 2000).

However, McCain in 2008 bent. The supporter of sound government finances offered big tax cuts. The sponsor of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act offered a ‘gas-tax holiday’. He reassured the religious right (whom he had previously labelled ‘agents of intolerance’) of his opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Shifting long-term positions is at best high risk: one is quite likely to disillusion one’s supporters and repel independents without convincing those to whom one is moving.

Promising change is not a political tactic, it is a commitment. If you have decided that the problem is with your party and you offer to change it, then change it you must. Of course, change is a necessary condition for success, but not sufficient. Three leaders of the British Conservative Party (William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard) offered change, but reversed direction when opinion polls refused to budge, as Andrew Denham and I describe in our recent book for Manchester University Press, Democratising Conservative Leadership Selection: From Grey Suits to Grass Roots.

The heart of the book narrates David Cameron’s rise to the leadership of the Conservative Party, during the unprecedentedly long contest in 2005, and follows his attempt to use his mandate to force change through until the end of Tony Blair’s Premiership in 2007.

He used several methods, including reversing well-known positions that were deemed counter-productive (refusing to promise tax cuts), opening up new policy fronts (a new-found interest in greenery, bicycles and windmills), and making structural changes in Conservative Party procedures (introducing the ‘A-list’ of favoured Parliamentary candidates). It provoked a lot of opposition from many in his party and the press (which paradoxically helped cement the image of change), and helped the Conservatives build up large poll leads over Summer 2008.

As Denham and I argue, the mandate for change which Cameron received from the leadership election was conditional on his delivering those poll leads, and on his being able to promise the Conservatives election victory in 2010. But things have changed for Cameron.

The global financial crisis has focused attention on the economy, which is Gordon Brown’s area of expertise, and he has been able to shine as a problem-solver. At the same time, the Conservatives have spent three years trying to make the running on social policy – now they have to try to develop distinctive economic ideas without leaving too many hostages to fortune. Those giant poll leads have started to shrink.

The temptations to lapse back to previous styles of rhetoric must be strong, as politics seems to be polarising. On the left, Polly Toynbee has already opined that the next few years will see a battle between the ideas of Keynes and Hayek, while on the right Simon Heffer and others have called for John Redwood to be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet.

These are hard times for Cameron. His long-term strategy was always tough, and as recently as 2007, as I argued, although it was necessary it was not at all obvious that it would pay dividends in the life of this Parliament. By Summer 2008, the situation had changed radically, and Cameron appeared a shoo-in. A few weeks later and all is up for grabs once more.

But the point about a long-term strategy is that it is long-term. The vicissitudes of day-to-day politics cannot be used to judge it. One cannot plan for the long term, and then make sweeping changes because the polls have moved. That is not to say that one cannot adjust tack, and the Tories have called for some relaxation in taxes and regulations. But they have sensibly drawn the line at reversing previous policy commitments by calling for an actual tax cut.

Denham and I spell out the struggle Cameron and his team were faced with to try to motivate and implement change in the Conservative Party, and also review the failures of the three previous Tory leaders to achieve the same shift. It is absolutely no coincidence that Cameron is the only one of the four to enjoy a large and prolonged lead in opinion polls. Voters may or may not like the direction of change, but they certainly will resist someone who backtracks when the going gets rough.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


The classic Cuban testimonial text, Biografia de un Cimarrón (Biography of a runaway slave) is to be published for the first time in England. The testimony of Esteban Montejo, the last surviving former slave in Cuba, where slavery was not abolished until 1886, was transcribed by celebrated Cuban poet, ethnologist and novelist Miguel Barnet and will be published by Manchester University Press in a critical edition for students.

Dr. William Rowlandson, one of the most famous specialists in Spanish and Latin American Literature from the University of Kent, is responsible for this critical edition of the biography. The volume will include the text in Spanish, as it appeared in the original edition of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore, with an introduction and detailed notes in English.

Barnet’s work will be included in the Hispanic Texts series, which includes other works by eminent Hispanic authors, from Miguel de Unamuno and Federico García Lorca to Gabriel García Márquez and Alfredo Bryce Echenique.

The volume has generated interest in Barnet's homeland of Cuba - as seen on the Cuba News Agency website this week.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Irish Voter wins prestigious award

The Irish Voter has won the Political Studies Association of Ireland book award for 2008, as the best book published in Irish politics this year.

It's only the second year of the award, which was won last year by Richard English, for his title Irish Freedom: A History of Nationalism in Ireland.

The Irish Voter is a comprehensive, academic survey of the motives, outlook and behaviour of the Irish voter. Visit the MUP website for more details.

Friday, 17 October 2008

A passion for films

We're sad to report that Tony Whitehead, MUP author and film programmer at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, has sadly died at the age of 46 following a battle with cancer.

These kind words come from Wales online,

'British screen comedy could have had few more affectionate and eloquent champions than Tony Whitehead. He will be remembered for his expertise on UK film and TV humour, but his lasting achievement, part from an enormous gift for friendship to all who visited Chapter, may prove to be his book on Mike Leigh, published by Manchester University Press earlier this year.'

To read the article in full, visit Wales Online.

Frankfurt and new books

The offices are feeling empty this week as several of us have gone to the Frankfurt book fair; a very important time of the year for us. They'll be back next week, no doubt with a full report on everything from the world's largest book fair.

Meanwhile, these have just arrived into the office in fine duet form:-

Attractive opposites

by J. B. Lethbridge

A much-needed volume that brings together ten original papers by the experts, on the relations between Spenser and Shakespeare. There has been much noteworthy work on the linguistic borrowings of Shakespeare from Spenser, but the subject has never before been treated systematically, and the linguistic borrowings lead to broader-scale borrowings and influences which are treated here. An additional feature of the book is that for the first time a large bibliography of previous work is offered.

Shakespeare and Spenser presents new approaches, heralding a resurgence of interest in the relations between two of the greatest Renaissance English poets to a wider scholarly group and in a more systematic manner than before.

Click on the title for more information, including how to order.


Essays in reading, writing and reception

Edited by Richard Meek, Jane Rickard & Richard Wilson

This collection of essays is part of a new phase in Shakespeare studies. The traditional view of Shakespeare is that he was a man of the theatre who showed no interest in the printing of his plays, producing works that are only fully realised in performance. This view has recently been challenged by critics arguing that Shakespeare was a literary ‘poet-playwright’, concerned with his readers as well as his audiences.
Shakespeare’s Book offers a vital contribution to this critical debate, and examines its wider implications for how we conceive of Shakespeare and his works. Bringing together an impressive group of international Shakespeare scholars, the volume explores both Shakespeare’s relationship with actual printers, patrons, and readers, and the representation of writing, reading, and print within his works themselves.
Click on the title for more information, including how to order.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Unassuming film director focus of new MUP book

Thorold Dickinson, director of classic films such as Gaslight and The Queen of Spades is the focus of a new book by Manchester University Press.

The book is the first ever analysis of this much neglected director, and will be a treasure to fans, or those studying relevant film and media courses.

Peter Swaab, who co-edited the book with Philip Horne discusses the director in an article published in The Times this week.
Read the article online for FREE.

And, why not check out a new blog post on The Telegraph's blog page by Philip Horne, focusing on the work of Thorold Dickinson.

The Barbican will show The Queen of Spades and Secret People on 5 October; and Gaslight and The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on 6 October.

REVIEWED: Shakespeare and laughter by Indira Ghose

The Times Higher Education Supplement has done a great review of Indira Ghose's Shakespeare and laughter.

It begins:-

"Indira Ghose's adroit, engaging study begins with a moment of consternation. When invited by a newspaper to nominate the "funniest Brit of all time", the nation chose not Shakespeare but Eric Morecambe - and by a landslide. How could this be? For intelligent, reflective adults (or Daily Mirror readers, at least) to think more highly of the man who gave us "You can't see the join!" than the creator of Twelfth Night suggests misprision. But, as Ghose implies, the choice is hardly surprising. Laughter is a communal affair. We laugh more readily when in company than alone, and most of all when the source of the humour is present; and we do so as much to signal our willingness to share the fun as we do at anything intrinsically 'funny'. "

Read the full review here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

REVIEWED: Andrew Van der Vlies' South African textual cultures

The Times Literary Supplement published a full page review (p.23) of South African textual cultures in its September 5th issue. Reviewer Elizabeth Lowry writes:-

"What's white and black and read all over? The answer to this question, wittily posed and elegantly argued by Andrew van der Vlies in this original new study, is of course, 'South African literature'.... "

For more information on the book, including ordering details, visit the webpage.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


This new series published by Manchester University Press responds to the growing interest in disability as a discipline worthy of historical research.

The series has a broad international historical merit, encompassing issues that include class, race, gender, age, war, medical treatment, professionalisation, environments, work, institutions and cultural and social aspects of disablement; including representations of disabled people in literature, film, art and the media. We welcome all proposals from a wide range of geographical locations and time periods.

For more information, contact:-

Dr Julie Anderson
CHSTM, University of Manchester
2nd Floor, Simon Building
Brunswick Street
Manchester M13 9PL

Professor Walton Schalick
Dept. of Medical History and Bioethics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1300 University Avenue, 1410
Madison, WI 53706

To submit a proposal/manuscript, contact:

Emma Brennan
Commissioning Editor, History
Manchester University Press
Oxford Road
Manchester M139 9NR

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Launch of Sociology and Social Worlds Series

Sociology and Social Worlds is a brand new series published jointly by Manchester University Press and The Open University. The series was launched last week at the annual CRESC conference at St Hughs college, Oxford.

Each of the three books in the series engages with a key theme to examine the ways in which social worlds are constructed and mediated. Each title is explained in more detail on the MUP website.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

OAPEN - a new frontier?

I went to Goettingen in Germany at the start of this week, to kick off OAPEN, a project in open access publishing. It is quite cutting edge, as it is looking at open access in humanities monographs, where other open access projects look at journals in the sciences.

Ten years ago people were trumpeting that the publication of electronic versions of books online was the beginning of the end for the book. I remember feeling then, as I do now, that this was not the case at all. The digital publishing arena affords publishers an overwhelming range of new possibilities. Manchester University Press is a willing and enthusiastic participant in Google’s book search. We sell ebooks, albeit in fairly small numbers. We are deeply involved in exploring the cost saving advantages of digital printing. We have also provided online versions of our journals for nearly ten years.

With OAPEN, however, we are going one step further. Many people might see that step as heading towards the death of the book. We are exploring the possibilities of open access book publishing. We hope to publish books online, free of charge, with no access restrictions. I find that concept satisfyingly revolutionary. After all, you hardly ever come across a “real” book for free. Certainly you might be given catalogues, proofs or advance reading copies, but they are almost always promotional tools, aiming to sell a “proper” print run or a “proper” book.

Why on earth would a publisher be trying to do this? Surely it is hammering a nail into a publisher shaped coffin? There are strong reasons for investigating the open access route. Scientific journals have been trialling open access publishing for a few years now. The open access movement has many times called for important research to be made publicly available for the greater good.

The pressure which was initially placed on scientific journals publishers is now being directed towards the humanities and social sciences. We, as HSS publishers, need to ensure that we are ready for that pressure. We need to have considered the implications fully, and the only way to achieve that effectively is by joining together in a project such as OAPEN.

But I think that there is a better reason than simply responding to pressure. We are a University Press. As such we exist to further the aims of the University and the wider academic community. Specifically we exist to disseminate the results of academic research. We do this primarily by taking the results of such research, sending it for peer review, copy editing, proof reading, typesetting, indexing, printing and binding and so on. All of this costs money, so we charge for the resulting book.

Surely online, freely accessible monographs are better disseminated than costly, limited, printed ones? It is our duty therefore, as University Presses, to see whether we can give access.

Commercial presses would certainly not see the argument in the same way – although they may well end up in a form of Open Access publishing. There is a growing body of evidence that says that publication online of a freely accessible version of a book increases sales of the printed version. We certainly believe that to be the case and any book we publish in Open Access will have a printed version too. There may well be a shift in the funding models for research, which ends with grant giving bodies paying publishers for their publishing services. Authors themselves may pay, probably with departmental money. Quite how the finances will work is very uncertain. Finding a sustainable model for University Presses is one of the primary aims of OAPEN.

OAPEN will also embrace many new technologies along the way, and these could create an enhanced product – live linking of citations, better quality illustrations, perhaps even wiki style amendments and comments to online publications.

I don’t think we are about to see the end of the book – this is a project aimed at saving the monograph, and along the way we might just make it better.

I will keep you informed.

Ben Stebbing
Head of Sales and Marketing
Manchester University Press

See also

And the Ithaka Report

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Exclusive blog by Richard Jackson

In 2005, I published Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counter-terrorism (MUP). It was one of the first critical analyses of the public language employed by the Bush administration to make sense of the 9/11 attacks and justify the nation's mobilisation for a global 'war on terrorism'. In the book, I tried to argue firstly, that the political elite carefully and deliberately chose the language they used because they had certain goals in mind. It was not a spontaneous or objective reflection of reality, but part of a carefully conceived political strategy to pursue a range of domestic and foreign projects. Second, I argued that the particular narratives and language they employed was chosen from a range of possibilities, and that it was not in any inevitable that 9/11 had to interpreted as an act of war requiring a military response, for example. Other interpretations and narratives were available and could have been deployed. Third, I argued that the core narratives and assumptions of the overall discourse were then reproduced and institutionalised across American society through powerful discursive sites such as the media, churches, and the new Department of Homeland Security. Finally, I tried to show how the language of the war on terror was much more than merely words or propaganda; instead, it had a number of concrete consequences in the 'real' world of public policy. These ideological effects included a number of extremely negative patterns of behaviour, such as the torture and abuse seen at Abu Ghraib and the ongoing cycle of violence between al Qaeda and Western and Western-supported states. I suggested that we needed to find new ways of speaking and thinking about the challenge of terrorism if we were to move beyond simply responding to violence with even greater counter-violence which actually increased insecurity.

I am very pleased that since the book was published, a great many other books, articles, research projects, and PhDs have confirmed my overall arguments, and provided further analytical and empirical depth to our understanding of the way the political language of elites functions ideologically. Interestingly, in a follow-up project with Matt McDonald from Warwick University I looked at several hundred speeches by George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard in the run-up to the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. The data revealed that all three leaders used the same core narratives about terrorism and all of them ended up justifying the attacks very similar ways. In other words, the discourse of the war on terror spread and was used instrumentally by other political leaders pursuing the same kinds of policies.
Despite this growing evidence for my thesis however, a number of questions have been raised about my arguments which I would like to respond to. First, I have been criticised by some for promoting a 'conspiracy theory' approach to the use of political language by elites. I would respond that it is not a conspiracy as such, but rather a carefully conceived political strategy by politicians who are deeply aware of the power of language, particularly in a media-based society. Moreover, there is now a great deal of evidence (which is growing further all the time) to show that political elites in the US and UK worked extremely hard and purposively to promote certain key messages to the public, even though in the case of Iraq's WMD they knew that the evidence did not hold up. It is not necessarily a secret conspiracy therefore, but simply political actors constructing a discourse to promote their own interests. This is something which other political actors, such as pressure groups, also do.

Second, it has been argued that existing structures and narratives within American society made it virtually inevitable that a war-based interpretation of 9/11 would prevail and a 'war on terror' would be launched. The political elite, in this sense, had no real choice and the war on terror discourse just emerged of its own accord. I agree that American society is highly militaristic, that narratives of American exceptionalism and the chosen nation are deeply embedded in the political culture, and that existing foreign policy structures are oriented towards certain kinds of dominant perceptions and responses. With this genealogy and set of existing structures therefore, it was always highly likely that the political elite would choose these particular narratives to frame their policies in order to ensure that they resonated with the public and gained widespread acceptance.

Nonetheless, I still maintain that the political elite always retain a certain amount of agency and in this case, there were definite choices about exactly what kind of narrative framing they could employ to frame the response they chose. Moreover, although it cannot be tested, I think that if Al Gore had been president instead of George W., a different set of narratives and approach to fighting terrorism would have emerged. There are numerous examples of both individuals and groups working hard to introduce a new discourse or language into politics and succeeding, even though the existing structures mitigated against it. Examples of such so-called 'norm entrepreneurs' include: Gorbachev's perestroika; the efforts of human rights activists to construct an international human rights regime; the now widely used language of green politics; gender neutral language; etc. If we abandon the notion of human agency, it becomes difficult to explain change in international politics.

A key point that emerges from this is that language and discourse is never monolithic or static; it has to be reproduced and remade every day by actors and institutions. This suggests that even though the language of the war on terrorism has now been institutionalised in numerous agencies, government departments and laws, and has become an accepted part of entertainment culture, there is still room for struggle and resistance. If we as scholars and citizens continue to challenge the core narratives and language used by elites and their supporters, I believe that the war on terror will in the years to come, go the way of the cold war. This is a valid emancipatory goal, as the war on terror has proved to be nothing short of a disaster for human security, human rights, democratic politics and progressive politics.

Visit the MUP website for details of Writing the War on Terrorism (2005) by Richard Jackson

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Review, review, revew!

Great Satan's Rage, by Scott Wilson, has received a great review in the Times Higher Education Supplement!

Read it online for FREE

Thursday, 7 August 2008


By Kieron O’Hara
University of Southampton

So overwhelming is the Conservatives’ lead in the opinion polls that it is easy to overlook how precarious their future seemed not so very long ago. In the Summer of 2007, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Tory leader David Cameron started off in a difficult position which got steadily worse; newspaper headlines on the eve of the Tory Party Conference were declaring him dead and buried.

A series of calamities of varying magnitude followed for Brown, and the Tories came back from the brink. Nevertheless, even with several weeks of poll leads behind him, Cameron was still under pressure from the Tory right well into the Spring of 2008. There was a great deal of argument in March about why the Tory lead was so narrow.

Now support for Brown has collapsed, and the Tories seem certain to get in. Well, maybe, maybe not; the electoral demography is still difficult for them, the electorate is volatile, the economy may improve and Brown will certainly come out fighting after his Summer break. Nonetheless, Tories are hot favourites.

This seemed impossible after the last election, and much if not all of the credit must go to Cameron himself. The period 2005-6 was vital in the recovery of the Conservative Party, with the extraordinary seven-month leadership contest at the centre. The resurgence in Tory fortunes really began with Cameron’s famous conference speech of 2005, when he turned the contest on its head.

In our new book for Manchester University Press, Democratising Conservative Leadership Selection: From Grey Suits to Grass Roots, Andrew Denham and I examine the role of leadership contests in understanding the successes and failures of Conservative leaders. We provide a historical perspective back to 1881, and examine the conduct and effects of every Tory leadership election, with a detailed focus on the 2005 contest and the immediate aftermath.

Cameron’s modernisation of the Conservative Party is key, bringing the party back to the centre, altering its rhetoric, changing the profile of its candidates and mapping out a conservative ideological space distinct from that of Thatcherism, as I had earlier argued was essential in my book After Blair (reviewed by David Cameron in The Guardian). Cameron changed both image and substance – and carefully used the change of image to reinforce the change of substance.

Denham and I describe in some detail how the centrist project came under attack from Tory Ultras almost immediately, and how Cameron doggedly resisted – certainly making mistakes at times, but basically staying on course. We argued that the mandate from his decisive victory in the leadership election would be temporary, and that eventually Cameron’s legitimacy as leader would depend on electoral and poll success.

At the time of writing the book, it was an open question whether Cameron would stay the course – perhaps an election called in Autumn 2007 would have derailed him. But he did not deviate, shrugged off the (false) accusations that he has no right wing ideological content, and is now reaping the benefits. He has certainly had some luck; nevertheless his long-term strategy, the forging of which during the dark days of 2005 is described in our book, is paying off much more quickly than he had a right to expect.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Upcoming conferences in August

Still chugging along in our conference season, this and next month looks set to be pretty busy.

Here’s where we’ll be (click on the conference titles to find out more) :-

  • International Shakespeare Conference 3rd – 8th August (Stratford)

    One we make a point of going to every year, not only to showcase our Shakespeare titles but also our fantastic Revels Plays series.

  • ESSE conference 22nd – 26th august (Denmark)

    We didn’t attend ESSE last time around, but have done extensively in the past. As we rarely travel outside of the UK, this one should be pretty exciting.

We also have plenty more coming up in September, which we’ll post about soon….

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Erotic Awards 2008

By Lucy Robinson, author of Gay Men and the Left in Post War Britain: how the personal got political.

Forty years after the ‘swinging sixties’ and sexual liberation it seems that the boundaries around sexual liberty are still highly contested and contradictory.
The lines around what is and isn’t legal or acceptable do seem more blurred than ever. This hasn’t been helped in some ways by the recent changes to the Sexual Offences Act which have left criminal offence very much in the eyes of the offended. On the one hand, commercialized sadomasochistic imagery of Betty Page and Dita Von Teese are popular to the point of ubiquity, cheap confessional chat shows are filled with tales of resisted monogamy, and the life of Mary Whitehouse made a recent rather jolly television comedy starring Julie Walters. In the academic world the new historians of sexuality are demonstrating the varieties of ways in which sexuality and sexual politics can unlock History and students are grabbing the opportunity to take courses that focus on, rather than briefly skirt over, the sexual past.

Yet on the other hand, as the new laws on extreme or violent pornography and the case of Max Mosley show, some perversions really are more acceptable than others. It might be ok to play around with fluffy handcuffs at Ann Summers parties, but heaven help anyone who engages in the practices and identities around the more challenging end of the sexually transgressive scale.

It was for these reasons that when I found out my first book Gay Men and the Left in Post War Britain: how the personal got political was a finalist in the academics’ category of this year’s Erotic Awards I was absolutely blown away. Firstly because any sense that an academic book has made connections with a wider audience is good for soothing ivory tower guilt, but secondly because of the Awards themselves. The Awards’ website explains that they, “honour stars in the erotic world” in fourteen categories of “artists, performers, sex workers, campaigners, film makers, websites, blogs and podcasts – include the famous, the struggling and the previously unknown”. The awards, and the awards’ organizers, also do much more than that; they impact on the world at large. On a practical level the awards and the erotic ball, The Night of the Senses, that follows the final ceremony raise money for Outsiders, which facilitates and campaigns around disabled people as sexual partners. Beyond that the Awards and the organization behind them, the Leydig Trust, offer a key part of the process through which we can draw the boundaries around sexual liberty for ourselves. At the heart of this stands the awards’ organizer and long time sex activist Tuppy Owens.

The celebration of sexuality in the Erotic Awards’ performance categories works with the more explicitly writerly, activist and political categories. Because they celebrate the consensual, the nominees, Outsiders and the Leydig Trust, also have an important role in highlighting and challenging the coercive and showing how publicly important the private worlds of sex can be. Each nominee represents one of a possible variety of ways in which sexual freedom can be envisaged and expressed. I will just suggest three possible examples from this year’s nominees. Joy, one of the finalists in this year’s Striptease category, has a background in the International Union of Sex Workers and was herself first inspired to strip by the awards. She has since performed her act for disabled audiences and is now setting up the London Erotic Film Festival which will function as a fund-raiser alongside the awards and Night of the Senses. Katie Sarra, a finalist for Artist of the Year, epitomizes the ways in which practitioners, activists and academics have refocused their gaze on the construction and reconstruction of the body. In her work ‘witnessing in paint the right of passage that tattoos symbolise’ the body is no longer the constant bit on to which we map the social construction of gender, it is itself a space to be reformed, re-performed and re-examined. But I think that the awards’ specific relevance is perhaps most startlingly demonstrated by two of the nominees in the Campaigners category. Robbie Swan’ and Fiona Patten’s book Hypocrites was published by the Eros Foundation in 2000. Hypocrites raised awareness of the levels of abuse by church clergy in Australia and inspired a mass rally in Sydney. On the back of this Pope Benedict XVI apologized to those victims of abuse during his trip to Australia in July this year.

In May the awards held a showcase of the nominees in the performance categories at the Clapham Grand. I took my friend the documentary maker Daisy Asquith as my guest and we had a front row view of the acts. The showcase was introduced by the world’s most talented MC Mat Fraser and opened with the Oddballs and their ‘Balloon Dance’ which I had last seen in the comedy tent at Glastonbury at some point in the 80s. Whilst the more mainstream approach found on hen nights and in high street strip clubs was well represented at the showcase, Burlesque aesthetics and innovative historical and cultural allusion held the spotlight. The cultural historian in me appreciated Syban V Manticore’s swan lake en point , Suzie Q’s Harlem Renaissance , classic Burlesque from Miss Bijou Noir, Tiffany’s embodiment of a 40s living (pin-up) doll, and Lazlo’s exploration of consumption (think La Grande Bouffe) which was sexy, funny and clever and as Mr Fraser said, included the best reveal I’ve ever seen.

What stayed with me was the Erotic Awards’ celebration of consensual sexual expression of all kinds which broke down the barriers found in so many other ‘scenes’. The venue, company, food and wine certainly made the showcase an infectiously enjoyable night and I am looking forward to meeting my fellow finalists at the Erotic Awards exhibition on the 4th September and taking my friends Daisy and Dom to the final ceremony on the 12th as Tuppy says it’s “more a celebration than a competition”.

Lucy Robinson is currently a Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Sussex.

Erotic Awards exhibition at the Jago Gallery, 77 Redchurch Street, Hoxton, London E2, 4th- 10th September,
The Erotic Awards (8pm) followed by Night of the Senses at Mass and Babalou Brixton Hill, London SW2 1JF, 12th September

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Is it time to legalise drugs?

'Perhaps the worst thing that prohibition has done is create criminal gangs.'

Dr Paul O'Mahony, author of MUP's bestselling book, The Irish War on Drugs, makes this controversial statement in an article published in The Irish Times this week.

Carol Coulter, Legal Affairs Editor at The Irish Times talks to Dr O'Mahony about his views on Ireland's drug culture.

Read the article in full, online. Or find out more about Dr O'Mahony's arguments in The Irish War on Drugs, available to buy online or at all good bookshops.

MUP author asks difficult questions in the FT

Tom Gallagher, whose new book Romania and the European Union: How the Weak Vanquished the Strong, will be published by MUP in 2009, has written an article for The Financial Times this week.

Entitled How the EU let Romania off, it asks a few uncomfortable questions about the EU's attitude towards joining countries, particularly Romania.

Read the article online, for free.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Just arrived into the office...

The nuclear age, postmodernism and United States fiction and prose

Daniel Cordle

When the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, it precipitated a nuclear age that shaped the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. States of suspense is about the representation of this nuclear age in United States literature from 1945–2005.

The profound psychological and cultural impact of living in anticipation of the Bomb is apparent not only in end-of-the-world fantasies, but also in mainstream and postmodern literature. This book traces the ways in which key motifs – the fragility of reality; the fear of closure; the inadequacies of language to represent the world – move between nuclear and postmodern cultures of the Cold War era. Taking three symbolically threatened environments – the home, the city, the planet – the book explores their recasting as ‘nuclear places’ in literature, and shows how these nuclear concerns resonate with those of other cultures.


For more information, including how to order, click on the title above or here.

Get in touch if you are interested in an inspection or review copy.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Prize winner and the Anglo American conference 2008

Congratulations to Kirsty Reid, author of Gender, crime and empire, which won the 2008 Australian Historical Association's Kay Daniels Prize for early colonial history. Fantastic news!

Find out more about the Australian Historical Association and its awards here.


In other news, the annual Anglo American conference went very well for us last week, and it was great to meet some new authors in person, as well as seeing some familiar faces from last year.
Thanks also to Julie Ackroyd who kept all the publishers happy and made sure everything went smoothly. Kudos for the Krispy Kremes on the last day…

On a side note, if you like un-extortionately priced Greek food and you happen to be in London, we can recommend Yialousa Greek Taverna on Woburn Place, near Euston station. It’s run by a lovely Greek Cypriot gentleman and the food is wonderful...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Bestselling author, Bill Jones, examines political communication in the 21st century

I suppose I’m fairly experienced at political communication in that I’ve taught politics since 1972 when I first arrived at Manchester University.
As well as the spoken word and books, the third form of communication I have used is the internet.

In May 2005 I began to write a blog:

and have kept up posting on it ever since. The idea of a blog is to create a kind of personal diary, but given the subject it’s also to attract some comment from other readers. I don’t get anything like the traffic on my site as the big ones like Iain Dale’s Diary or Guido Fawkes (both available via a click if you visit my site) but some 60,000 have visited since I started, including a fair number of students and some teachers too.

How to become an expert blogger...

1. To write a good blog you need to master a minimum amount of the required IT know-how; if I can do this it must be easy.

2. You also need to follow politics quite closely and be able to form views on what is happening. It helps if you are a bit of a ‘political anorak’ as I suppose I have become.

3. You need a rather thicker skin than is normal given most civilised political discussion. Some comments can be rude and occasionally brutal. This is unfortunate maybe, but it’s inevitable given that comments can be posted ‘anonymously’ and at least it keeps things lively. I recently posted on an article by Max Hastings agreeing that the absence of inhibitions regarding obscene language these days has overall reduced our quality of life. Comments included one or two anonymous choice Anglo-Saxon words which I suppose were all too predictable.

So, are blogs really that important?

Some bloggers see themselves as being at the cutting edge of a new medium, setting an agenda of their own which challenges the ‘Metropolitan Commentariat’. I’m not sure this is true- at least not yet it isn’t. Bloggers are mostly one- person shows lacking the resources to cover events as they happen and able to influence things only on the margins: mostly on matters concerning gossip and the transgressions of individuals. Readership of the political blogosphere is still quite small- though the big blogs attract over a million hits a month- and it would be absurd to consider it as a genuine competitor to the press and broadcasting just yet. However, it is lively, provides interaction and is a genuine alternative; it can only develop further and become more influential. Personally, I do it because it’s fun; you can feel as if you are producing your own online newspaper, complete with pictures and editorials.

Bill Jones

See also for a range of products and services for teachers and students of politics.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Just arrived into the office...

A cultural history

Indira Ghose

This book examines laughter in the Shakespearean theatre, and is the first study to focus specifically on laughter, not comedy. It looks at various strands of the early modern discourse on laughter, ranging from medical treatises and courtesy manuals to Puritan tracts and jestbook literature. It argues that few cultural phenomena have undergone as radical a change in meaning as laughter.

Laughter became bound up with questions of taste and class identity. At the same time, humanist thinkers revalorised the status of recreation and pleasure. These developments left their trace on the early modern theatre, where laughter was retailed as a commodity in an emerging entertainment industry. Shakespeare´s plays both reflect and shape these changes, particularly in his adaptation of the Erasmian wise fool as a stage figure, and in the sceptical strain of thought that is encapsulated in the laughter evoked in the plays.

For more information, click on the link in the title above.


Wednesday, 21 May 2008

New catalogue

Our spanking new catalogue for the Autumn/Winter season of 2008 has arrived into the office....


Cover picture is taken from Adrian Horn's Jukebox Britain, by the way (a great book), which will be coming out in February 2009.

If you would like a catalogue sent to you free of charge, please contact us; leave a comment here, phone us or email us (contact details on our website). We'll have one sent out ASAP. Same goes for our extensive backlist catalogue, which covers all subject areas.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Just arrived into the office...

Tentative bridge-building to China during the Johnson years

by Michael Lumbers

This new study is the first comprehensive account of U.S. Policy toward China during the presidency of
Lyndon Johnson, a critical phase of the Cold War immediately preceding the dramatic Sino-American rapprochement of the early 1970s.

Based on a thorough review of a wide array of recently declassified government documents, this book offers a fresh perspective by challenging the popular view that Johnson’s approach to China was marked by stagnation and sterility.

For more information, click on the title above.


Victorians and the Virgin Mary

Religion and gender in England 1830 - 1885

by Carol Engelhardt Herringer

this book seeks to revise our understanding of the Victorian religious landscape by retrieving Catholics from the cultural margins to which they are usually relegated. By showing that the Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics constituted a significant proportion of Victorian society that was opposed to the Protestant majority, this analysis more accurately evaluates their contributions to Victorian culture.

For more information, click on the title above.


Eleventh-century Germany

The Swabian chronicles

Translated and selected by I. S. Robinson

In the abbey of Reichenau, in the south-western duchy of Swabia, the great polymath Herman 'the Lame' composed a chronicle that contains the most detailed account of the reign of Emperor Henry III (1039-56). His pupil and biographer, Berthold of Reichenau continued his master's work, composing a rigorous extant account of the years 1076-1079 in Germany.

The Swabian chronicles reveal how between 1049 and 1100 the centripetal attraction of the reform papacy became the dominant fact of intellectual life in German reformed monastic circles.

For more information, click on the title above.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Upcoming conferences

Whilst we bask in the sun, conference season stealthily creeps up on us, skittering on its little limbs. So here's a list of those we will be attending in person this year, up until August (click on the titles for more information):-

* British Graduate Shakespeare conference, Stratford-upon-Avon (19th - 21st June)

* Cultures of Translation conference, Cardiff (26th - 28th June)

* Television without Borders conference, Reading (27th - 29th June)

* Anglo-American conference, London (2nd - 4th July)

* Screen Studies conference, Glasgow (4th - 6th July)

* International Medieval Congress, Leeds (7th -10th July)

* David Lean: 100th Anniversary conference, London (24th - 25th July)

* International Shakespeare conference, Stratford-upon-Avon (4th - 8th August)

* ESSE conference, Denmark (22nd - 26th August)

Conferences from September onwards will be posted up soon!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Just arrived into the office...

'Shaking the blood-stained hand of Mr Collins'

by Martin Maguire

The training of the civil service is intended to produce an unquestioning loyalty to the State. What happens when that State is subject to revolutionary struggle and a new regime comes to power? Invited to shake the ‘blood-stained hands’ of the revolutionary leadership and to serve the new State, how does the civil service respond?


'Martin Maguire's important book is thoroughly anchored in an impressive array of original materials, and bristles with fresh argument and insight. It cogently addresses and challenges the full range of our existing knowledge about the Dublin Castle administration, the reforms of 1920, and the early development of the Free State civil service. The work thereby significantly advances the historiography on early 20th century Ireland.'

Alvin Jackson, Sir Richard Lodge Professor of History, University of Edinburgh


For more information, including price and ordering details, click here or on the title above.


Hello and welcome to the new blog from Manchester University Press. We'll be posting updates on new titles, conferences we'll be attending, reviews and general exciting things happening.

Thank you for looking!