History Departmental Newsletter

History Departmental Newsletter
A warm welcome to all readers.
If you are a prospective student, I hope you are looking forward to
your time as a history student at this University as much as we are to
teaching you!
Inside you will details on staff and student activities in department,
and students’ perspectives on life studying history at the University.
History Visits Spring Term 2008
One of the great glories of Devon is the wealth of beautiful medieval churches to be found in the
This term, we have been using this rich
resource as part of the curriculum of
two History modules. In the spring term
2008, third year students studying the
module ‘Parish Life in Medieval
England 1400-1530’ were able to bring
the topic to life, with visits to some of
the parish churches of the county with
the tutor, Dr Liz Tingle. In January, the
group went out to the village of Bere
Ferrers, about 10 miles north of
Plymouth, sited on a small peninsula
between the Tamar and Tavy rivers.
The trip had a special sense of
adventure, for the village is best
accessible by request-stop train from
Plymouth (left), which gives great views
of the historic dockyards of Devonport
and the river systems feeding the
Hamoaze, on the way. Bere Ferrers
church nestles next to the river Tavy. Its
low-lying, grey exterior hides a wealth
of medieval features inside. Stained
glass with medieval donor figures,
knights’ effigies, rood screen and font,
were studied by the students. The visit
bought alive the theology and religious
practices which the group had been
studying using documentary sources.
The visit continued around the
cemetery, rich in Victorian monuments, including two cholera pits from the 1830s.
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History Departmental Newsletter
It ended with a welcome half-hour in nearby The Plough Inn, an opportunity for refreshment and
warmth, before the train journey back to Plymouth.
On 5th March, the third year group and tutor spent a day in east Devon, visiting two of the most
significant parish churches of the county. Our first port of call was Ottery St Mary, famous for its
association with the Coleridge family. St Mary’s church is virtually a scale-model of Exeter
Cathedral, built by Bishop Grandisson as a chantry college and mausoleum for his family. The
architecture and interior fittings are stunning, and were wonderfully explained to us by the
archivist, Anne Willoughby. The students went on to explore St Andrew’s, Cullompton, in groups,
with its superb Lane aisle, surviving rood screen and ‘Golgotha’. They are now busy with their own
research exercise on the material culture of late medieval piety, and will present their results as
part of the module assessment. A group of first year students taking the module ‘Presentations of
History’ have also been out on a field visit, to Tavistock, on a clear cold day in early March, with
snow lying on nearby Dartmoor. Part of the module involves reconstructing the landscapes of
Tavistock Abbey, founded in 981 and dissolved in 1538. After looking at Tavistock’s Domesday
estates and at the foundation of the town in the twelfth century, the students and tutor spent half a
day examining the surviving remains of the abbey and the medieval town plan, on the ground. We
also had a good look at the interior of St Eustace’s parish church, which contains some
archaeological remains of the abbey. This was a valuable addition to the classroom curriculum,
allowing us to consider the relationship between historical and archaeological evidence in
reconstructions of past landscapes.
Liz Tingle
“I’ve just finished my first year on the History
single BA (Hons) course at Plymouth
During freshers’ week we were set the task of
researching the history of Plymouth which I
found really interesting, as I am from the
south-east coast of England, and so I had
very little knowledge of the area and its
history beforehand. I found this related to the
course and the area really well. So far I have
found the course to be extremely interesting,
and my favourite part has been the module
America: from settlement to revolution. One
advantage of the course is that, in the first
year, the modules cover a wide range of
modern history. I have found all the lecturers
within the History department to be friendly
and they are easily approachable. They also
provide plenty of feedback on assignments
throughout the year enabling me to improve
on my grades, and keeps me aware of the
level I am currently writing at. I was a student
rep for the first years; we met regularly with
faculty staff and a member of the library staff.
Here, any issues from students are raised for
the staff to look at. This gives the students
the opportunity to get involved within the
university and to have a say of their own on
issues such as the course and the library.
The University of Plymouth run exchanges
with other Universities which allow students
on the history course to study abroad in
America or Canada for either a year or a
term. This takes part during the second year
of the undergraduate course and I have
applied for this once in a lifetime opportunity
to experience a different culture whilst
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History Departmental Newsletter
There is also a wide variety of clubs and
societies available at Plymouth University
including many water sports as the university
is located so close to the sea. I signed up to
the dance society, the horse riding club and
the history society. There are many fun
socials which are usually themed which are
organised by the clubs committee, allowing
first year students to meet new people. I
personally ride once a week and dance on
Monday evenings which allows me time to
enjoy the clubs but also manage time for my
I currently live in halls of residence which has
been the best experience of my life. You
meet a wide variety of people from different
backgrounds and I have made some of my
closest friends through living in halls.
Plymouth has a great social side to the city
and there is always plenty to do so life is
never boring here at Plymouth!”
Kimberley Peck - year 1
“My time at Plymouth has certainly been lifechanging. I think I’ve grown up a lot, and
apart from learning loads from a purely
historical perspective, I also believe that any
degree-level student who applies themselves
can easily pick up a ton of experience in just
working and writing independently, a
discipline that can only help them in the
further world of work.”
welcomes enquiries and applications for next
year (further details of the programmes can
be found on the university website).
In the autumn of 2007 Politics and the
People: A History of British Democracy since
1918 was published by Atlantic Books, its
theme described in the following review in the
Financial Times: ‘Historian Kevin Jefferys
thinks apathy has been endemic ever since
universal suffrage was introduced in 1918. In
this comprehensive and compelling study of
political attitudes in the UK, he argues that
there never was a golden age of democratic
Since completing his four-year term as Head
of the School of Humanities Harry Bennett
has been busy working on a series of
research/publishing projects. He is
expanding his earlier work on the American
GI in the West country 1942-45 into a book
provisionally entitled Killing Time: The GI in
Western Europe 1942-45. The book will
examine what it was like to be a GI and offer
a worms eye view of what it was like to be an
American soldier sent to Europe to fight in the
Second World War.
James Mustoe – year 3
History’s two new postgraduate programmes
– MA Social History and MRes History –
both recruited well in 2007-08 and as
Programme Leader, Kevin Jefferys
A further article length and book length
project concerns a piece of film that was
recently donated to the South West Film and
TV archive in Plymouth. It contains twenty
minutes worth of wartime colour footage of
130 Squadron at RAF Perranporth and
Portreath in 1942. Asked by the archive to
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History Departmental Newsletter
have a look at the film Bennett has been able
to identify two of the pilots as belonging to the
Free French Air Force. This has sparked a
considerable interest in those pilots who
rallied to Charles de Gaulle in 1940-42. By
1944 there were four Spitfire squadrons
based in Britain whose pilots were French.
Their story has largely been lost. There are
hopes that the film can form the core of a
documentary on the French pilots.
Jacques "Jaco" Andrieux, heroic French pilot in world war two
Bennett is also helping to create a ten-minute
documentary film of the SS and German
Police shot in South Russia in 1942-43. This
mysteriously turned up in the film collection of
a deceased Baptist minister from East Devon.
The film appears to relate to the building of
strategic route DG IV from Stalino to Lvov.
That road, constructed with POW, Jewish and
other slave labour, cost tens of thousands of
lives to construct. Who shot the film is a
mystery. Bennett is working with a
documentary team to solve some of the
mysteries around the film.
In the last 18 months, James Daybell has
published a monograph on Women LetterWriters in Tudor England (Oxford University
Press, 2006); two journal articles “Scripting a
Female Voice: Women’s Epistolary Rhetoric
in Sixteenth-Century Letters of Petition”,
Women’s Writing (2006) and “Recent Studies
in Renaissance Letters: The Seventeenth
Century”, English Literary Renaissance
(2006); and an essay on “The Rhetoric of
Friendship in Sixteenth-Century Women’s
Letters of Intercession”, in Rhetoric, Gender,
Politics: Representing Early Modern
Women’s Speech, ed. Judith Richards and
Alison Thorne (London: Routledge, 2006). He
is currently completing a new monograph
entitled, The Material Letter in Early Modern
England, editing a collection on Material
Readings in Early Modern England, 15801700 and preparing a handful of articles for
publication. He has delivered papers on
‘Loyalty, Obedience and Authority in
Sixteenth-Century Women’s Letters’ at
Liverpool and Plymouth Universities, on
‘Women’s Letters, Literature and Conscience’
at Oxford University, on ‘Secret Letters in
Early Modern England’ at the Renaissance
Society of America Conference in Chicago,
and on ‘Material Readings of Early Modern
Culture’ at the University of Reading. In
addition, he has obtained two grants from the
British Academy (£2000 and £400) ¬– one to
organise an international conference at
Plymouth, the other to attend the
Renaissance Society of America Annual
Conference in Chicago in April 2008 – as well
as a small grant from the Royal Historical
Society. On the teaching front, last academic
year he organised a trip to London for my
second year undergraduates to see the
Holbein Exhibition at Tate Britain. As
organiser of the Department of History
Research Seminar he has arranged for a
series of outside speakers to talk at the
University on various historical topics; he has
convened two annual lectures (by Professor
Barry Coward, President of the Historical
Association and Professor Ralph Houlbrooke
from the University of Reading) in memory of
our late colleague Chris Durston, as well as a
series of lectures on Social History in Spring
2008 as part of the launch of our new MA in
Social History. Finally, with Peter Hinds in
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History Departmental Newsletter
English, he has organised an international
conference on Material Readings of Early
Modern Culture, 1580-1700 to be held in April
Elizabeth Tingle moved to Plymouth
University from the University of
Northampton, in May 2006. She published
Authority and Society in Nantes during the
French Wars of Religion 1558-1598 with
Manchester University Press in 2006.
Recently, she has published articles and
essays on the French Wars of Religion and
the Catholic Reformation, in SixteenthCentury Journal, European History Quarterly
and in Archaeology of Reformation (R.
Gilchrist & D. Gaimster eds), Sacred Space in
Early Modern Europe, (W. Coster & A. Spicer
eds), and Moderate Voices in the
Reformation (L. Racaut & A. Ryrie eds). She
has forthcoming works in the Journal of
Ecclesiastical History, French History and in
several collections of essays. Last year, E.
Tingle gave conference papers in Oxford,
Leicester, Rennes and Bern; this year, she
will be speaking at conferences in
Montpellier, Galway and Lyons. She is
currently working on the doctrine of purgatory
and the practice of intercession for the dead,
in Brittany, France, 1500-1720.
Paul Brassley is a rural historian, which
means that he is interested in everything that
went on in the countryside in the past. He
began by working on the 17th and 18th
centuries, then transferred to the 19th, but in
the last few years most of his work has been
on the 20th century. He is particularly
interested in the history of technical change in
UK agriculture, but he also works on wider
rural issues such as the decline of rural
industries in England in the 1920s and ‘30s,
the history of agricultural education, the
English landscape between the wars,
interwar land reform across Europe as a
whole, and various aspects of farming and
food supply in the UK and continental Europe
in World War II. He was one of the founders
of the Interwar Rural History Research
Group, and edited (with Jeremy Burchardt
and Lynne Thompson) its essay collection,
The English Countryside Between the Wars
(Boydell, 2006). He is currently Chair of the
Executive Committee of the British
Agricultural History Society, and involved in
writing and presenting for several European
book projects and seminar series on rural
Since starting work at Plymouth in May 2007,
Gary Peatling has published research
articles in Eire-Ireland, the Journal of ScotchIrish Studies and the International Review of
Scottish Studies. He also presented a paper
to Plymouth's History research seminar in
October 2007, and will soon publish an article
in a volume edited by Isaac Land, to be
entitled Enemies of Humanity, on nineteenthand twentieth-century "wars against
terrorism". Last summer G. Peatling
undertook research in London, Cambridge,
Belfast, Dublin and Boston (Massachusetts).
As well as teaching modern British and
European history, he is currently pursuing a
qualification in learning and teaching in higher
education at the University of Plymouth.
Outreach: Schools History Conference
and Visits
Having a large cohort of enthusiastic Sixth
Form Historians I was eager to take up any
opportunity which would help them
experience university life, and if possible,
History at University.
The Sixth Form conference offered the
chance to experience a proper ‘lecture’ as
well as a seminar. For many the overview
lecture was their best memory as it was on a
topic new to most. The seminars were
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History Departmental Newsletter
valuable in showing how it was not something to be frightened of, in fact something to enjoy.
The students also very much appreciated the visit of Dr Bennett to PHSG in December.
His lecture on the US withdrawal from Vietnam helped them appreciate the global context of
America's decision making and provoked much discussion in class afterwards about the ‘culture of
loss’ on the North Vietnamese side. Again they were reassured that History at university would be
enjoyable; challenging but not daunting.
Our thanks go to all the staff who made these 2 opportunities happen for the girls. We were lucky
in that we were nearby but we would recommend it to other staff who have to negotiate risk
assessments, transport arrangements etc. Best of all, let the students make their own way there
and be ‘proper’ university students.
If there were any further opportunities our students would like the chance to deal with documents
and interpretations of past events as this allows more room for discussion and the process of
‘doing history’.
Claire Eales-White,
Head of Humanities Faculty, Plymouth High School for Girls
The history tutors at the
University of Plymouth would
love to hear from you!
Please contact
Useful contact details:
t: 01752 585100 e: arts.admissions@plymouth.ac.uk
re: BA (Hons) History | MA Social History
t: 01752 585030 e: artsresearch@plymouth.ac.uk
re: MRes History | MPhil/PhD History
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