Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Title: The British History Podcast

Author: Jamie Jeffers

Avid readers of the blog undoubtedly noticed that I started it during 1st year of my undergraduate studies, which means I am now in my final year. This, in turn, unfortunately means exams and reviewing everything I have learned so far. To make my work a little more pleasant  I – surprise, surprise – listen to podcasts. The one I’d like to recommend today is called The British History Podcast. But why this particular one, one might ask, there are lots of history podcasts out there. Well, my dear hypothetical reader – I like this one. It is not only highly informative, but it is also at times funny. Most importantly it does what few other podcasts about history do: it puts things into modern perspective. For example in one of the first episodes it explains why Cesar needed the approval of the senate to invade Britain: in a modern context the governor of California can’t just invade Mexico just because he wants to. When you see (hear ?) this comparison it becomes rather obvious why there were laws against taking such an action without prior approval. This approach certainly gives a better understanding of history and allows a modern listener to relate to the situation. This makes the facts much more memorable. I’m obviously very happy about it, because it means I won’t have to relearn it again in the near future. Although the exam that I have to take focuses on literature and culture, having a solid historical background while talking about those is never a bad idea.

The one serious drawback is that this podcast is fairly new (it started in 2011), which means there is nothing on modern history yet. But no matter – I can (and probably will) find another to review that. Another issue is not necessarily problematic for everyone, but to me it is a disadvantage: Jamie Jeffers is American. Now, I really do not have anything against Americans themselves, I just prefer listening to people with a British accent. Fortunately he makes up for it with his brilliant storytelling :-).

So, as always, go listen, enjoy and please comment.

by Izabela


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We are all human

Title: A History of The World in 100 Objects

Provider: BBC 4

As promised – a broader version of the podcast I’ve written about in the last post. It is extraordinary – especially compared to some history lessons. Through this podcast you get to learn, not as usual the history of the western culture, but the history of humanity. The entire humanity – beginning with a simple tool found in the heart of Afrika and going through objects found across the world. It is a good reminder that we – humans – all come from the same place, and though we traveled different paths, we are at core the same.

The podcast allow us to glimpse at the everyday lives of people long gone. The stories are made around  100 objects, all from the British Museum, which you can see photos of (if you’re not lucky enough to live in London) here. I must admit I’ve listened to the first 7 episodes without looking at them, and while it is good to see what they are talking about, it is not necessary. In each track the object at hand is described in detail and it is not difficult to imagine it. For me personally it was outstanding how much can you learn about the human society from a single object. It never ceases to amaze me how much scientists know about the history of our race – and from so little evidence.

Perhaps I’m so amazed because I’m still at the very beginning of the podcast – still at the very beginning of humanity, and there is very little left of those times. I’m looking forward to listening about all 100 objects – and impatient too since I’ve seen that one of the last objects is a credit card I wonder what can be said about humanity from that little pice of plastic.

So, as always, go listen and tell me your impressions, or if you want to tell me about a podcast I should check out, or a subject you want me to find something on.

by Izabela

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Title: Shakespeare’s Restless World

Provider: BBC Radio 4

Have you ever read a book and thought that, somehow, not everything is clear to you? I’ve felt that way whenever reading Shakespeare – and I’m not talking about the language itself, mind you. I mean I did not understand all the implications of the text that would have been obvious in Elizabethan England. This podcasts helps you with that. It is made around objects relevant to the period – things of everyday use. Through them many interesting questions about the Shakespearean world are answered: Do the same things shocked people back then that shock us now, like for example torture? How was the question of Queen Elisabeth’s heir raised in the plays? What kind of people went to the theatre and how did that affect the writing of the plays?, and many, many others. It really is splendid (I use superlatives so much that I finally have the opportunity to use the exercise from my high school – the persistent questions of my English teacher – name as many superlatives as you can). It is useful for me in my studies as well – I’m currently taking a course in Shakespeare and it is much easier to read the plays now – especially “The Taming of The Shrew”. As I wrote in a previous post, I’m a feminist so seeing a women being subdued is difficult for me (If you don’t know what I’m talking about – go read the play). Now it is a bit easier – I found out from the podcasts that there were other plays about ‘training’ women that were much more cruel – to the point of physical abuse. In that sense Shakespeare’s version can be seen as kind.

The podcast is truly delightful (see – another superlative) – and I’m going to listen to the broader version – “A History of The World in 100 Objects”, so wait for my review of that too. And, by the way, I found this podcast thanks to a recommendation – the broader one, I mean. I felt like listening to something about Shakespeare this week, but fear not I shall write about the other one – see? I do listen to recommendations, so keep them coming :-).

by Izabela

P.S. Best wishes and many thanks to YETI

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Horrible Histories

Hola everyone!

Here is an essay I wrote for my old English teacher, but since she’s an old hag she never bothered reading it, so  maybe now it’ll prove useful. The essay is a high-light of the Tudor and Stuart reign in England, all the key facts included. It is a general overview of the two dynasties. Btw it is based on two relevant chapters from the “An Illustrated History of Britain” by David MacDowell 😉

Hope you will find it useful!

Discuss the differences between Tudors’ and Stuarts’ Times

While the times of rule of the Tudor dynasty are considered to be extremely fruitful for the English, the Stuarts reign can be described as the downfall of the monarchy system and general chaos among the Englishmen. Although the Tudors are not free of faults the Stuarts were very unlucky and had to rule during difficult times, when their supposedly loyal subjects constantly undermined their power and right to rule.

The Tudor period stretched from 1485 to 1603, when the last of the Tudors, Queen Elizabeth I died without successors and James I of the Scottish Stuarts was the only rightful heir to the English throne. King Henry VII was the first of the Tudors to reign, after the one hundred years war and the war of three roses the Tudors were successful in gaining the crown.

Want more? Here is a pdf file :Horrible Histories


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Title: The History of English in Ten Minutes

Provider: The Open University

A funny series of videos about, as the title states, the history of English. It is truly brilliant. The first time I’ve listened to it I literally laughed out loud – loud enough for my friends to stare at me. For me it is especially great because it outlines the history, while at the same time providing examples – and surprising ones, too!

The only drawback is that the podcasts can be a bit difficult for non-english speakers. Covering the whole history of English in 10 minutes is a challenge and it shows in the way the speaker rushes through the text. Fortunately there are transcripts available on the site.

Enjoy 🙂

by Izabela

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