BSJ

The Butler Scholarly Journal

Category: History

  1. 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…

  2. 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…

  3. 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…

  4. 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…

  5. 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…

  6. ‘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…

  7. Sport: A Tool of Colonial Control for the British Empire

    Sport, as we know it, found its roots in the British Empire. Many of today’s most popular sports including cricket, football and tennis, were organised and codified by the British in the nineteenth century.[1] However, assessing the motivations behind this vast programme of sporting dissemination still remains relatively under-explored. This is puzzling considering that the spread of sports was a key branch of cultural imperialism, much like the spread of Christianity across the colonies. Sport, like religion, provided an opportunity for Britain to take cultural control of her Empire, whilst also encouraging British attitudes towards class and race to spread….

  8. The use of portraits as political tools in the courts of early modern Europe

    The infamous painting of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein is one of the best-known images in English history. Instantly recognisable in the modern era, the portrait successfully exemplifies the authority and power of the Tudor king. It still springs to mind at the mention of his name, five hundred years on from the painting’s completion. However, in the early modern period, portraits had political dimensions beyond that of mere representation. The Florentine humanist Leon Battista Alberti contended in the fifteenth-century that ‘painting possesses a truly divine power which…makes the absent present’. (1) Early modern portraits of sovereigns were employed precisely…

  9. Sex in Governmental Legislation from the Victorian to the Edwardian Period

    Most Britons are aware that once upon a time Britain possessed the largest empire in history. At its zenith, a fifth of the world’s total population came under rule or administration of the United Kingdom, and the Empire encompassed almost a quarter of the globe’s land mass (1). Queen Victoria’s reign spanned an extraordinary sixty-five years of Britain’s imperial century and she was internationally associated with this period of British superiority. However, accompanying the awareness of their once great Empire, most Britons are also aware that this is no longer the case. It is undeniable that there was structural change…

  10. Kelvin’s Aethereal Knots – The Origins of the Periodic Table and Knot Theory

    c. 1867, University of Glasgow: William Thomson, or Lord Kelvin (namesake of the temperature scale and the man who coined the term ‘kinetic energy’) as he is today more frequently known, turns his considerable intellectual ability towards the daunting question of how all material in the universe might exist. At this time in scientific history, the idea that matter was composed of individual atoms of varying type was becoming increasingly accepted by academics. However, what remained a complete mystery to all was how these atoms could themselves exist. The person who could suggest a working theory to answer such a…