Friday, 19 October 2012

British Empire

Here is an excellent site on the British Empire and its impact which Year 9s in particular may find useful.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Hilary Mantel wins the Booker Prize...again

Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize last night with "Bring up the Bodies", her sequel to "Wolf Hall" which itself won the prize three years ago. Both books cover the life of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Chief Minister, with the second installment covering the events in 1535 that led to the execution of Anne Boleyn.  It is an exciting time for historical fiction, and will hopefully lead to more readers being introduced to Tudor History through her work. Mantel is planning a 3rd book, "The Mirror and the Light" and "Wolf Hall" is being adapted for television and will be shown on the BBC next year.

You can read more about Mantel and her analysis of Cromwell here, a review of Bring up the Bodies here, and an article by Mantel about Anne Boleyn here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Australian PM & sexism

Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, delivers a lesson in how to put down troublesome opposition leaders and deal with accusations of sexism and misogyny in a 15 minute speech which has attracted over 1 million Youtube hits.  She was reacting to a motion trying to force out the Speaker for the first time after he was discovered to have sent lewd messages to a staffer.  The Observer assessed the issue in yesterday's newspaper.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Vote at 16?

Should the voting age be lowered to 16?  The issue is back on the agenda as Alex Salmond is keen for 16-17 year olds to take part in the Scottish Referendum in 2014.

This rather bad-tempered article from the Guardian suggests there is little point in doing so, as "young people" are too involved in their personal lives to bother to vote.

"At a time when the non-voting habit, civil disengagement, is creeping upwards towards 30...I see little point in making the turnout figures even worse by inviting 16-year-olds to join an election party most of them won't want to attend."
Do you agree with this analysis? What can be done to stop apathy amongst young voters? Please let us know.
PS: Here is the official "Votes at 16" campaign's website.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Tweeting again

Nonsuch HP is having another go with Twitter. We signed up with @nonsuchhp over 2 years ago but frankly didn't do a lot with it.  There is clearly great potential on Twitter to link up with other historians, politicians, journalists etc so please take a look at our Twitter page and let us know if there is anyone else we should be following. We have included a "latest tweets" section on the right hand side of the blog, and if you think there is anything else we should be doing, or any trends we should be following, let us know.

On that subject, you may find this blog post of interest showing tweeting trends during last week's political debates between @BarackObama and @MittRomney. It may not surprise you to know that the most popular subject of interest (hence the picture above) was #BigBird following Mitt Romney's comments...

What is History's Role in Society?

More good stuff from Radio 4. Here is a transcript from last week's "Point of View" by the writer and broadcaster Sarah Dunant explaining quite clearly what the purpose of History is.

"The humanities," she writes, "alongside filling one in on human history, teach people how to think analytically while at the same time noting and appreciating innovation and creativity. Not a bad set of skills for most jobs wouldn't you say?"

There are further thought-provoking comments within the article and also a useful guide to some of the ways that the study of History has evolved in recent years - very valuable information in particular for personal statement writers...

A Point of View covers all sorts of interesting topics and you can download many of them as podcasts here.

PS: The image above came from a google search of "Purpose of History" - make of it what you will!

Sima Qian - Chinese Historian

A fascinating article this morning from the BBC about Siam Qian, who as the "Grand Historian" wrote a 2500 year history of his country (in the 1st Century BC). What is most interesting about him however is that in 99BC he wrote in support of a general who had been forced to surrender after a military defeat. This was considered an act of treason by the emperor and he was given a stark choice - death or torture. He chose torture so that he could complete his book - he believed it was his duty to his future audience to ensure his work of history, which also contained many starkly honest appraisals of China's emperors, was completed for posterity.

Sima Qian's story is told as part of a Radio 4 series on Chinese historical figures. You can read more about them and download podcasts, here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

James Bond is 50

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Dr No, opening in cinemas. There are all sorts of celebrations going on, culminating with the release of the latest film, Skyfall, at the end of the month. In the meantime, here is an article from the Economist exploring why the Bond series has endured for so long.  There is lots of material over at the Guardian, where writers explain which films are their favourite (Nonsuch HP likes "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" best...) Finally, here is a rather more academic article on the relationship between James Bond and the Cold War by a professor from the Exeter University.

PS: If you're interested in a career in spying, have a look at this article, or even MI6's homepage - there are even some games to play to test your skills!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ruth Dombey

We were delighted to have Ruth Dombey, the leader of Sutton Council, in to speak to us today on the Save St Helier Campaign.  She explained the current situation regarding the hospital and the proposal to reduce the services available there, and then fielded plenty of questions from the audience. Right at the end she revealed that she was a former Nonsuch girl herself who had not been allowed to study Politics when she attended or invite the local MP to come in and speak!

To find out more about the campaign, you can visit the Save Our St Helier website, or follow the campaign, or Ruth Dombey on Twitter.

Ruth has already tweeted about her experiences as you can see below!

Epsom College Debate

On the 20th September, four Nonsuch pupils attended a political debate at Epsom College. The panel consisted of Chris Grayling (Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell and Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice), Anna Jones (a Liberal Democrat), a member of the Epsom and Ewell Resident Association and a Labour supporting student. 
The audience had the opportunity to question, and at times, grill the panel on a range of issues, such as tuition fees & Nick Clegg’s apology, Boris as Prime Minister, GCSE’s and the Bill of Rights.
The Euro sceptics and the republic audience took their battles. The panel had a range of opinions and ideas. Chris Grayling expressed his want to reduce the number of reoffenders through rehabilitation. As the audience nodded their heads in satisfaction (and surprise), Anna questioned his moral integrity and wondered if he actually believed that or whether it was because he had little funding; the audience laughed. The banter continued however there was a general consensus that home owners should have more property rights and cannabis should not be legalised. 
Chris Grayling ended the night expressing his preference for Mitt Romney to Obama and described Romney as ‘the Sarah Palin in trousers!’

How We Won the War

BBC2 is showing a rather patriotically titled series called "How We Won the War". It covers ordinary people's experiences of World War 2 from across the country. Here is a link to the episode covering rationing, which includes the programme and some other useful information and links.

You may also find Wartime Farm of interest, which is covering similar subject matter from an agricultural perspective.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Magna Carta

David Cameron couldn't remember what "Magna Carta" meant - hopefully anyone who has studied History in Year 7 here can help him out!

For more on the significance of Magna Carta, have a look at this (slightly controversial) article and you can also study the real thing here at the British Library's website. This BBC History Magazine article also gives a good account of the charter's historical context.

Presidential Debates

The first Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will take place tomorrow. Here is a helpful article explaining the significance of the debates, referring back to some previous encounters, including the famous Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960.

You also may find this BBC article -  "5 things you need to know about the US election" - of interest.

Eric Hobsbawm

Eric Hobsbawm, the eminent 19th and 20th Century historian, died on Monday aged 95. He was known for his detailed, yet accessible works, but also for his political beliefs, remaining committed to Marxism long after the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. You can read his obituary here, a BBC news report here, and some extracts from his writing here, and an assessment of his legacy by other historians here.