Publication History View all

  • The Lancet 03/2013; 381(9870):898-9.
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    ABSTRACT: The long-standing debate about the power of the British prime minister has focused excessively on formal instruments of control exercised within Whitehall. By contrast, not enough attention has been paid to the ways in which prime ministers use rhetoric, formally and informally, to maintain themselves in power and to achieve their policy aims. The term ‘rhetorical premiership’ is used here to denote the collection of methods by which prime ministers since 1945 have used public speech to augment their formal powers. Set-piece oratory remained consistently important throughout the period, in spite of new technology and the rise of the sound-bite. However, parliamentary rhetoric underwent some important changes, and prime ministers spoke outside the Commons with increased frequency. Historians of the premiership should draw instruction from those scholars who have studied the rhetoric of US presidents, although caution must be exercised when drawing comparisons. Future study of the rhetorical premiership should involve close textual analysis of prime ministerial speeches, but this should not be at the expense of archival sources, from which important insights into the speech-making process can be gleaned.
    Parliamentary History 05/2011; 30(2):175 - 192.
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    ABSTRACT: Sick children were ubiquitous in early modern England, and yet they have received very little attention from historians. Taking the elusive perspective of the child, this article explores the physical, emotional, and spiritual experience of illness in England between approximately 1580 and 1720. What was it like being ill and suffering pain? How did the young respond emotionally to the anticipation of death? It is argued that children's experiences were characterised by profound ambivalence: illness could be terrifying and distressing, but also a source of emotional and spiritual fulfillment and joy. This interpretation challenges the common assumption amongst medical historians that the experiences of early modern patients were utterly miserable. It also sheds light on children's emotional feelings for their parents, a subject often overlooked in the historiography of childhood. The primary sources used in this article include diaries, autobiographies, letters, the biographies of pious children, printed possession cases, doctors' casebooks, and theological treatises concerning the afterlife.
    Medical history 04/2011; 55(2):153-82.
  • History 06/2010; 95(319):357 - 357.
  • History 06/2010; 95(319):355 - 356.
  • Early Medieval Europe 01/2010; 18(1):125 - 126.
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the extent of lay religious knowledge and observance in thirteenth century England, using a series of short manuscript treatises on confession inspired by the De modo confitendi of Robert Grosseteste (d.1253). These works have not been much used to study lay religion but their lists of suggested questions to ask penitents in confession tell us much about their authors’ views of lay religion and their aspirations for it. The first part of the paper introduces the texts. The second part focuses on religious knowledge. Priests were told to ask whether penitents knew certain points of Christian doctrine, and the paper argues that at least some penitents were assumed to know more than historians have often suggested. The third part of the paper examines the religious practices that the authors of these confession treatises hoped for from laypeople, distinguishing between practices which penitents are assumed not to have done at all (such as confirmation) and practices which penitents are assumed to do, but may do incorrectly, such as attending confession or sermons. Using these sources, the paper argues that the confession writers had high expectations of laypeople’s religious knowledge and of the religious services available to them, and that some laypeople met these expectations.
    Journal of Medieval History. 01/2010;
  • History 12/2009; 95(317):132 - 133.
  • Parliamentary History 05/2009; 28(2):336 - 338.
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    ABSTRACT: Since 9/11, many politicians have deployed the memory of Winston Churchill in support of their own goals. This article examines this phenomenon—‘the Churchill Syndrome’—in the context of the use made of Churchillian language and imagery by British and American politicians in their rhetoric over the previous several decades. It does not seek to establish whether or not analogies with the Churchill era have been correct, but rather, using the concept of ‘reputational entrepreneurship’, it examines the historical reasons why these comparisons have often been preferred to others that might have been equally valid. It concludes that although Churchill has come to represent an idealised form of political steadfastness—referenced even by Gamal Abdul Nasser and Saddam Hussein—this portrayal of him has never achieved total hegemony.
    British Journal of Politics & International Relations 07/2008; 10(3):364 - 378.
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