BSJ

The Butler Scholarly Journal

Category: History

  1. Butler’s Stunted Legacy: Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Sex-Work

    Over a century ago, Josephine Butler passionately campaigned against the Contagious Diseases Acts, which allowed the arrest of those believed to be prostitutes operating in seaports and military towns. In just three years, her efforts were successful but the discussion about the decriminalisation of sex-work remains as relevant as ever. Although the act of selling sex is not illegal itself in Great Britain, solicitation, procuring, and running a brothel are all criminalised under various twentieth-century laws. In Northern Ireland, even the first act is a crime due to a recent 2015 law there. Abolitionists argue that these laws expose sex…

  2. Stella Browne, Ideological Innovations and Interventions: The Long Road to Abortion Reform in Britain

    Stella Browne was a socialist sex reformer during the interwar period. Raised in a middle-class home by her widowed mother, Browne went on to study at Somerville College, Oxford; the place where she encountered ideas of socialism and feminism.[1] Not only was Browne a prolific writer on matters of sexual politics, but she was an active member of the birth control movement, the Abortion Law Reform Association, the Humanitarian League and the Divorce Law Reform Union, amongst others.[2] Stella Browne has often taken a marginal position within the history of interwar sex reformers. She also never established herself as a…

  3. ‘The Power of Human Activity in Shaping English Place Names’

    The complexity of the origin of the English language has led to vast variations in the backgrounds of place names on a national scale. As a consequence of the immeasurable influences from a plethora of exogenous forces, place names stem from a variety of geneses, of which will be explored. The influence of the monarchy and royalty on English place names has undeniably been vast. Primarily, it seems plausible to focus on the addition of ‘Regis’ to the names of English towns. Stemming from the Latin for ‘of the King’, this term signifies the historical presence of royal manors or…

  4. Did early modern women face unpassable limitations in their attempts to gain agency?

    Did early modern women face unpassable limitations in their attempts to gain agency? To understand the term ‘agency’ we may consult the OED’s definition, stating that it refers to ‘action or intervention’.[1] Given that historians have taken the firm view that women lacked ability to take action or to intervene, evidence would appear compelling that women faced unsurpassable restrictions. As Keith Wrightson asserts, the patriarchal order worked to ensure that women were the ‘axiomatic’ subordinates of their husbands.[2] This husband-wife dynamic is interesting as a discussion point, suggesting women were primarily limited to the domestic sphere of activity. Indeed, Bernard…

  5. Bob Dylan-Voice of his Generation and Late-Modernist Alien

    Although Bob Dylan is more often discussed as a musician, as the ‘song and dance man’ he once described himself as [1], his 2016 Nobel Prize Award draws attention to the literary qualities of his work. From the first publishing of his complete lyrics in The Lyrics 1961-2012 in 2016 to Christopher Ricks’ colossal book of criticism on Bob Dylan as lyricist, Dylan’s Visions of Sin, growing interest in his songs as forms of literature has brought both fruitful insights and a lot of confusion as to the status due this ambivalent figure. This article is not an attempt to…

  6. What are the consequences of conflating the Middle East with the Muslim World as geographical designations?

    The exonymic neologism ‘Middle East’ was coined by US Navy Captain Alfred Mahan in 1902 in an attempt to delineate a seamless territory centering on Persia, Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf (Culcasi, 2010, 585). Since then, the term has been used to describe a plethora of countries, spanning three continents, contributing to its obfuscation as a geographical and cartographic object. This confusion is caused because the Middle East is an abstraction of various distinct and heterogeneous countries which have little physiographical, geographical, historical, cultural, or political unity. In attempting to categorise the Middle East, it is often mistakenly conflated with…

  7. Myanmar and the Political Culture of Silence

    Since August 2017, the international community has issued tentatively scornful denunciations of the Myanmar government and its “crackdown” on the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority that has resided in the country for generations. One month later, and with over 600,000 of the one million Rohingyan population displaced by Burmese military forces, government officials and heads of state have condemned the abuses, murders and rape. Many have described the situation as ethnic cleansing: strong words, with grave historical reverberations and the promise of reactivity.   And yet global opposition to the Myanmar authorities has amounted to little more than rhetoric, political…

  8. Talk with a Holocaust Survivor: Janine Webber

    During Epiphany term, Polish-born holocaust survivor Janine Webber, 84, shared her incredible testimony with Durham University staff and students, as well as members of the local community, at Josephine Butler College. The event will go down as one of the best attended and most successful talks in the college’s history. Around 140 people were in attendance for the talk which was held in the college’s Howlands Building. Now, ‘unforgettable’ is a term that is used all too frequently and in a number of contexts, yet there is little chance that those in attendance will have forgotten what they saw, heard…

  9. The Plague: Is it still a threat in 2017?

    Nuclear warfare, climate change and…another bout of Black Death? Although listing the plague alongside other present-day threats to humanity sounds ridiculous, the threat of this medieval disease is still very real. In fact, it has recently been reported that fleas in Arizona have tested positive to plague bacteria and that a public health warning has been issued to residents.[1] Thousands of people still contract the plague every year, with outbreaks primarily concentrated in Africa. Although underreported and largely ignored by the western media, Madagascar, the most adversely affected country, has been the nucleus of twentieth-century plague cases since 2014. But…

  10. ‘Popular Imperialism’ in the USA: A Necessary Debate

    In 1898, with victory in the Spanish-American War and the official annexation of Hawaii, the United States suddenly found in its possession a significant overseas empire stretching from the Caribbean, across the Pacific to the South China Sea. The acquisition of these territories was a process of many years, and intervention in the Cuban War of Independence, as well as the annexation of Hawaii, was debated in the press and by politicians in the preceding decades. As Americans came to terms with their new colonial possessions and came face-to-face with often hostile colonial subjects, imperialist and racist sentiments were expressed…