Toe-dipping in the mainstream

These days, academics are encouraged to appeal to big audiences. We are told that we must have ‘impact’ (teaching 2.2 million university students doesn’t seem to count, oddly enough – but let’s leave that for another time). Just over a fortnight ago I had my first proper taste of this when I got involved in a collective letter published in History Today, whose readership and twitter followers represent a much bigger audience than I am likely to reach through my academic writing and teaching. Continue reading

Fame, fortune, and footnotes

The next issue of The American Historical Review, out in April, will contain an exchange concerning the History Manifesto; it is already available on the American Historical Association website. To my surprise (and I am grateful to Brodie Waddell for noticing this), one of the footnotes cites my review of the Manifesto on this blog from October last year. That review is my most popular post to date, no doubt helped by links to it appearing on the Manifesto website, and David Armitage’s webpage about the book. Even so, when I started this blog I never thought it would be mentioned in a serious historical journal dating back to 1895, which has the highest ‘impact factor’ of any journal in the field, according to Thomson Reuters’ Journal Citation Reports. Nor did I foresee that it would lead to my name being immortalised in print (which is still more permanent than online content) next to the word ‘historywomble’. Though that should perhaps have been more predictable.

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Counting Historians

Recently, for the first time and with the help of patient friends (especially Simon Abernethy and Edmond Smith), I’ve been working on some research that involves quite a bit of statistical analysis. As a result I have started thinking more about this kind of approach to other problems and so, when I came across the Data for Research page of the journal website JSTOR, it seemed well worth investigating.

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…is an idea suggested on Twitter, over the weekend, by Cambridge early modernist Liesbeth Corens

– inspired, as the tweet suggests, by ‘Dance Your PhD’, a competition sponsored by the journal Science with a proper prize and everything (for last year’s winner, see here). The rather great website lol my thesis also springs to mind. The first such verse offering, by also-Cambridge-early-modernist Harriet Lyon, is shown in Liesbeth’s preceding tweet.

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Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Caleb (part IV)

This is the final post in a series on a particular seafaring family from the seventeenth century with a habit of being called Thomas. Pevious posts introduced ‘Thomas snr’, ‘kinsman Thomas’, and ‘Thomas jnr’ and his brother Caleb, following their fortunes as much as possible through the available sources, especially their wills. In this post, I want to step back and think about what they tell us in a boader sense (so if you haven’t read the other three posts yet, a) why not? and b) it might be a good idea if you want to make sense of this one).
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Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Caleb (part III)

This is the third post in a series about the Trenchfield family, a dynasty of mariners with a predilection for the name Thomas. At least, the Thomases I introduced in my previous two posts (‘Thomas snr’ and ‘kinsman Thomas’) were both mariners, and pretty successful ones at that. This post looks at the third Thomas (‘Thomas jnr’) and his brother Caleb, the children of Thomas snr and the cousins of kinsman Thomas. It is in Thomas snr’s will, The National Archives, PROB 11/197/441, that we first encounter these two, and it is here that we learn that their professional careers were set to be quite unlike those of their father and cousin.
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Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Caleb (part II)

This is the second post in a series about the Trenchfields, a family of mariners from the early seventeenth century, and more particularly about three of them called Thomas (and one called Caleb). In the first post, I introduced the man I think of as ‘Thomas snr’, the oldest Thomas I have encountered, an influential shipmaster in the Mediterranean and a naval commander for parliament during the British civil wars. This time, I want you to meet his relative, who I have titled ‘kinsman Thomas’, for reasons which will become obvious.
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