MONTHLY BLOG 76, HUMANS AS COLLECTIVE TIME-TRAVELLERS

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2017) Particularly in troubled times, it’s enticing to think of escaping not just to another place but to another time: a temporal bridge over troubled waters. In the old folk stories, an individual falls very soundly asleep … and then awakens, to his or her […]

MONTHLY BLOG 75, HUMANS AS TIME-SPECIFIC STARDUST

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2017) ‘We are stardust’, sang Joni Mitchell in ‘Woodstock’ (1970) soulfully and, as it transpires, presciently.1 Poets, song-lyricists and writers of scifi are often ahead of the scientific curve (as well as sometimes barking completely up the wrong tree). A.E. Housman’s Shropshire Lad (1896) had […]

MONTHLY BLOG 74, WHY CAN’T WE THINK ABOUT SPACE WITHOUT TIME?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2017) Well, why not? Why can’t we think about Space without Time? It’s been tried before. A persistent, though small, minority of philosophers and physicists deny the ‘reality’ of Time.1 True, they have not yet made much headway in winning the arguments. But it’s an […]

MONTHLY BLOG 73, WRITING INTO SILENCE ABOUT TIME

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) Time – great subject. Lots of it around. Universal application. Paradoxical too: time flies, time crawls … time heals, time festers … time is short, time is long … time is money, time is priceless. And the list continues: humans can do time, have […]

MONTHLY BLOG 72, REMEMBERING CONRAD RUSSELL, HISTORIAN of STUART BRITAIN AND ‘LAST OF THE WHIGS’

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) After contributing to a panel discussion on 22 September 2016 at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, I’ve expanded my notes as follows: When remembering my colleague Conrad Russell (1937-2004),1 the first thing that comes to mind is his utterly distinctive presence. […]

MONTHLY BLOG 71, HOW IS GROWING INEQUALITY DIVIDING THE BRITISH TORIES FROM WITHIN?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) How will history interpret the views of millions of Tory voters who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum on the EU? It’s a good question that merits further attention. Since June, many commentators have defined the motivations of the Labour supporters who voted Leave […]

MONTHLY BLOG 70, WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION’S HYBRID CONSTITUTION?

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) I voted REMAIN in the great Europe-referendum of June 2016, and was sorry (though not distraught) to find myself in the minority. At the same time, I had reservations about the European Union, not least for its lack of clear political accountability. In particular, […]

MONTHLY BLOG 69, BRITAIN AND MAINLAND EUROPE VIEWED LONG: FROM CONCERT OF EUROPE TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) Britain has long had a yoyo-relationship with mainland or continental Europe. Its fluctuating nature has many well-known roots. One is geography, which maintains a maritime barrier between the British Isles and mainland Europe; or at least has done so since sea levels last rose […]

MONTHLY BLOG 68, REFERENDA VIEWED LONG

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) Referenda seek to answer big questions with big answers: let the people speak. But they also constrain voters. They are called upon to choose between simple either/or alternatives. In practice, however, referenda are not always easy to answer. There are plenty of cases when […]

MONTHLY BLOG 67, WHAT NEXT? INTERROGATING HISTORICAL EVIDENCE

If citing, please kindly acknowledge copyright © Penelope J. Corfield (2016) First find your evidence and check for provenance; reliability; and typicality.1  But what next? Here are three golden rules; and three research steps. Rule One: Approach every source with a keen mixture of critical excitement. That is, embrace new evidence whilst being prepared to […]