MONTHLY BLOG 102, ARE YOU AN OPTIMIST? HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR OWN TEMPERAMENT?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) The Cheshire Cat, famed for its indestructible grin … from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as depicted by John Tenniel for the book’s classic 1865 edition. © image in public domain  Are you an optimist? This question is one of my favourite opening […]

MONTHLY BLOG 101, ARE YOU A LUMPER OR SPLITTER? HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR OWN CAST OF MIND?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) The terminology, derived from Charles Darwin,1 is hardly elegant. Yet it highlights rival polarities in the intellectual cast of mind. ‘Lumpers’ seek to assemble fragments of knowledge into one big picture, while ‘splitters’ see instead complication upon complications. An earlier permutation of that dichotomy […]

MONTHLY BLOG 100, CONTROLLING STREET VIOLENCE & LEARNING FROM THE DEMISE OF DUELLING

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) Young men carrying knives today can’t simply be equated with gentlemen duelling with rapiers in the eighteenth century. There are very many obvious differences. Nonetheless, the decline and disappearance of duelling has some relevant messages for later generations, when considering how to cope with […]

MONTHLY BLOG 99, WHY BOTHER TO STUDY THE RULEBOOK?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) Joining a public committee of any kind? Before getting enmeshed in the details, I recommend studying the rulebook. Why on earth? Such advice seems arcane, indeed positively nerdy. But I have a good reason for this recommendation. Framework rules are the hall-mark of a […]

MONTHLY BLOG 98, HOW SHOULD YOU APPROACH THE PhD VIVA?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) Asked by a friend about my extensive experience of helping candidates through PhD vivas, I’ve distilled my advice as follows: Anticipation Participation Progression 1: Anticipation I won’t call this preparation, since everything that you have researched, debated and written about during the entire research […]

MONTHLY BLOG 97, WHY IS THE REMARKABLE CHARLOTTE DESPARD NOT BETTER KNOWN?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2019) Fig.1 Charlotte Despard speaking at an anti-fascist rally, Trafalgar Square, 12 June 1933: photograph by James Jarché, Daily Herald Archive. Charlotte Despard (1844-1939) was a remarkable – even amazing – woman. Don’t just take my word for it. Listen to Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). Visiting […]

MONTHLY BLOG 96, WHAT’S WRONG WITH PREHISTORY?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2018) Arthur’s Stone, Herefordshire, dating from c.3000 BCE: photo © Tony Belton, 2016 What’s wrong with ‘prehistory’? Absolutely nothing but the name. People refer to ancient monuments as ‘prehistoric’ and everyone knows roughly what is meant. The illustration (above) shows an ancient burial tomb, known […]

MONTHLY BLOG 95, ‘WHAT IS THE GREATEST SIN IN THE WORLD?’ CHRISTOPHER HILL AND THE SPIRIT OF EQUALITY

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2018) Text of short talk given by PJC to introduce the First Christopher Hill Memorial Lecture, (given by Prof. Justin Champion) at Newark National Civil War Centre, on Saturday 3 November 2018. Christopher Hill was not only a remarkable historian – he was also a […]

MONTHLY BLOG 94, THINKING LONG – STUDYING HISTORY

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2018) History is a subject that deals in ‘thinking long’. The human capacity to think beyond the immediate instant is one of our species’ most defining characteristics. Of course, we live in every passing moment. But we also cast our minds, retrospectively and prospectively, along […]

MONTHLY BLOG 93, HOW TO STUDY HISTORIANS: HISTORIOLOGY, NOT HISTORIOGRAPHY

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2018) Historian at work: Scribble, Scribble, Scribble – with acknowledgement to Shutterstock 557773132 ‘Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr Gibbon?’ This kindly put-down from the Duke of Gloucester to Edward Gibbon in 1781 has become a classic from a lackadaisical onlooker, who had just been […]