History Department News and Events Roundup 2018-19

5 Jul 2019
History image of medieval manuscript

A roundup of recent news and events from the University of Winchester's History Department and research centres.

See also the News Roundup page of our Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research.

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"The Muses have taught me to sing": classical scholar publishes new commentary on legendary literary contest between Homer and Hesiod

In a recent trend in scholarship, ancient biographies are seen as literary modes. This book by Dr Paola Bassino provides a comprehensive study of the Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi, an influential ancient Greek text that narrates the lives of Homer and Hesiod and their legendary poetic contest. It offers new perspectives on the nature, uses and legacy of the text and its tale of literary competition. The commentary focusses on how the text characterises the two poets and encourages reflection on their respective wisdom, aesthetic and ethical values, divine inspiration and Panhellenic appeal.

Paola Bassino, The "Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi": A Commentary is available as an e-book.


A roundup of recent events. For forthcoming events, explore our Public Events Calendar.


Early July saw two fascinating talks by some very eminent scholars. On the 1st, we welcomed bestselling author and BBC presenter Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch from the University of Oxford, who delved into the life of Thomas Cranmer and asked: who exactly was he? He discussed his biography of Thomas Cranmer, the late 15th - early 16th-century Archbishop of Canterbury. Through his help in the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII to Katharine of Aragon, Cranmer played a key role in the laying of the foundations of the Church of England, but he was ultimately martyred in the reign of the Catholic queen Mary I. This event was organised by the Winchester Catholic History Group as their annual Roy Wake Memorial Lecture, and hosted by the University of Winchester.

On the 2nd, in a talk at the Cathedral, Professor Roger Richardson examined the task of the modern-day historian. Today's historians increasingly democratise their subject and bring to life the ignored and the neglected, such as women, workers of all kinds and children. How is this changing the face of writing and examing history?

History at Winchester: image of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

26 - 28 April 2019: Battlefields Trust Annual Conference and AGM

The University was delighted to host this year's annual conference and AGM of the Battlefield Trust. A collaboration between the Archaeology section, the History Department and the Battlefield Trust, this three-day event featured a wide range of talks as well as a excursion to nearby Cheriton battlefield and a walking tour of historic Winchester. Find out more.

Cheriton Battlefield: Looking out across the site of Sir William Waller's camp at nearby Hinton Ampner


May 2019: Unlocking the history inside Winchester Cathedral's Mortuary Chests

A blog by biological anthropologist Dr Heidi Dawson-Hobbis, to mark the opening of Kings and Scribes, the Birth of a Nation, a major new exhibition in Winchester Cathedral. A key exhibit are the 3D printed bones of a female, one of 23 individuals discovered in the Cathedral's mortuary chests. The skeletons have been examined by a team of biological anthropologists, among whom the Dr Dawson-Hobbis. The female is possibly Queen Emma, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, the wife of two Anglo-Saxon Kings of England and the mother of Edward the Confessor. Read on.

Dr Heidi Dawson-Hobbis (left) at the exhibition. Image copyright: Hampshire Chronicle

April 2019: Notre-Dame has burnt - but not burnt down

This month the world watched in shock as the iconic medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was rapidly engulfed in flames. In a heartfelt blog, medieval buildings expert Dr Katherine Weikert shares her thoughts and emotions. Read on.

Notre Dame ablaze (image AP, Michel Euler)

Notre-Dame ablaze - image AP/Michel Euler


New books

Tom Beaumont James and Jen Best (eds) (2018) Debt of Honour. Winchester City’s First World War Dead (Hobnob press). Prof. Tom James MBE is Emeritus Professor of History; Jen Best is an Archaeology alumnus. The graves are located in Winchester’s historic West Hill Cemetery; to find out more about this fascinating site, situated right nextdoor to our campus, visit www.winchester.ac.uk/whc

Sian Edwards 2018 Youth movement, citizenship and the English countryside. Creating good citizens, 1930 – 1960 (Palgrave Studies in the history of social movements)

Nicola Tallis (2018) Elizabeth’s Rival. The tumultuous tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester (Michael O'Mara). Nicola Tallis is a historian and author, currently studying for a PhD in the Department of History. To find out more about Nicola, visit her website at www.nicolatallis.com.

Elena Woodacre (2018) A Companion to Global Queenship (Arc Medieval Press)

History research at Winchester: Dr Ryan Lavelle signing his book Cnut, the North Sea King

Dr Ryan Lavelle signing his book Cnut, the North Sea King

Winchester historians take pride of place as high-profile history events return to Winchester

BBC History Weekend 2018

BBC History Weekend returned to Winchester for its third year on 5-7 October. Four of our historians presented talks alongside celebrity historians like Michael Wood and Lucy Worsley. There were also walking tours and a History Fringe, featuring bite-size talks by our experts and showcasing new research and fresh ideas. Our research students and academics packed new ideas into 15-minute talks at the ‘fringe’ of the festival, with talks on medieval queens, the end of the Viking empire, Richard III and Lettice Knollys, a rival of Elizabeth I.

Dr Ellie Woodacre, Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History and Convenor of the Royal Studies Network, discussed the challenges that women faced as rulers in the male-dominated political landscape of the Middle Ages. Looking at strong queens and failed female claimants, she revealed how women came to the throne and what prevented their access to power. Read an interview with Dr Woodacre.

Dr Ryan Lavelle, Reader in Early Medieval History and Convenor of the Department's Wessex Centre for History and Archaeology, highlighted the impact of the death of king Cnut in 1035 at a time of crisis. Ryan, whose latest book is titled Cnut, the North Sea King, shows what the crisis tells us about the English kingdom at the end of the Viking Age by examining the reactions of his children, his two wives and other royal claimants.

Ryan and Ellie also revealed the Anglo-Saxon and royal history of Winchester respectively in two walking tours.

The unusually bold aspirations and forward-thinking strategies of Richard III, both in his role of Duke of Gloucester and as king of England, were explored by Professor Emeritus Michael Hicks, a renowned expert on Richard III. Winchester PhD student and historical novelist Nicola Tallis discussed the life of Lettice Knollys, a rival of Elizabeth I. Lettice began the queen’s reign in her favour. However, in 1578 she made a fateful decision and was forced to live with the consequences of this for the rest of her life.

“It was wonderful being able to talk to such an engaging and enthusiastic crowd about a subject about which I'm passionate”, said Nicola. “I always enjoy being a part of the History Festival - it's such a brilliant platform and you're surrounded by people who share similar interests. I had a fabulous time!”

Dr Ellie Woodacre said: “We were delighted to be back at the BBC History Weekend this year and to be presenting the History Fringe Festival. Our fantastic selection of talks really highlighted the breadth and diversity of history research at Winchester. The Fringe Festival is also a great way for our PhD students and early-career researchers to get their research ‘out there’ to history enthusiasts.”

Winchester Heritage Open Days 2018

September saw the return of the annual cornucopia of free talks, guided walks, tours and more. Once again WHODs featured many of our academics and PhD students; from a walking tour through the lens of the Battle of Winchester with Dr Katherine Weikert to a medieval queens workshop for children with Dr Ellie Woodacre and a talk on a forgotten queen by PhD student Gabby Storey, there was something for everyone. Find out more.

The launch of the 2018 Heritage Open Days in Winchester provided the opportunity for an evening of reflection between Winchester medievalists and the eminent historian and broadcaster Professor Michael Wood. On the agenda were ‘Why do the Anglo-Saxons Matter?’ and ‘Extraordinary Women’. The sell-out evening at the Winchester Discovery Centre lecture theatre featured the History Department’s early medieval historians Dr Ryan Lavelle and Dr Katherine Weikert, along with Professor Emerita Barbara Yorke.

Read Dr Lavelle's reflections on the evening

University of Winchester research and public engagement: our medieval historians in conversation with Michael Wood during Winchester Heritage Open Days 2018

Left to right: Dr Katherine Weikert, Dr Ryan Lavelle, Em. Prof. Barbara Yorke and Prof. Michael Wood. Photo: Mike Hall.

On the barricades: launch of interdisciplinary Journal of Riot and Protest Studies

Historian Dr Simon Sandall and Criminologist Dr Matt Clement have joined forces to create a new journal dedicated to their mutual research interest: the history, politics and social aspects of riot, rebellion and protest. This groundbreaking online journal will provide a platform for academics and other professionals to debate issues around riot and protest from a wide range of perspectives through blogs and peer-reviewed articles. The first issue is published in July and the journal will be formally launched at major criminology and history conferences over the summer. Find out more about the Journal of Riot and Protest Studies.

Winchester medieval historian shines light on 15th-century queen on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time

In May 2108, Dr James Ross, Reader in Late Medieval English History and Co-Convener of the Department's Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research, appeared on In Our Time, in an episode about Margaret of Anjou, a powerful 15th-century queen and one of the key figures in the Wars of the Roses. Catch up on the programme via the BBC iPlayer.

Modern History Exhibition 'People on the move'

In 2017 the department's Modern History Research Centre centre launched its new seminar series. Focussed around 'minority histories', it celebrated diversity in modern history. The 2018 Minority History Annual Event was the 'People on the move' exhibition, a collaboration with Winchester Discovery Centre. This exciting exhibition, which ran throughout March 2018, was an international exploration of historical perspectives, experiences and events linked to migration and communities in modern history. Find out more about the Modern History Research Centre.

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