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The “Knockout” Game, Race, and Fears of Urban Crime in American History

The idea that cities are havens of delinquency populated by morally deprived low-lifes is a longstanding notion in American history. But whatever the current level of crime in American cities, the denser, ethnically-mixed populations of urban areas has ensured that the cultural meme of “cities as havens of vice” has remained perennially popular. The latest fear of urban crime comes …

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Behind the Scenes at the new Stonehenge Exhibition Centre

Stonehenge Opens its £27 million Exhibition Centre There’s no skirting the issue, Stonehenge is a really big deal for English Heritage. It is a globally known landmark that has lacked a solid tourist friendly exhibition centre for far too long. Their approach to this issue is not only a statement about the site, but a wider statement about how heritage …

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Unlocking Bag End: Tolkien and the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement

In a hole in the ground there was a library, a billiard room, not to mention a luxurious smoking room with comfortable seats soft enough to get lost in.  Above there would seem to be rolling hills, and a nice round window looks out onto lush views of an idyllic countryside.  This idyllic retreat is not set in JRR Tolkien’s …

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St Nicholas: Naughty or Nice?

In the Western world, Christmas is a time to celebrate, either to mark the birth of Christ or enjoy more pagan revelries. Although Christmas is celebrated at different times across Europe (in many countries, the main event takes place on 6 December – St Nicholas’ Day), at the heart of the holidays is a figure who rewards good children with …

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The Shock of the Frontline: Psychological Trauma in the Great War

As the centenary of the outbreak of World War I approaches, we will be encouraged to remember the fallen of a conflict that tore the world apart. Official commemorations, exhibitions, books and television series will echo the sequence of events a century ago. The bravery and heroism of soldiers who endured the trenches will be foremost in the public consciousness, …

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Lucan Drama – Exclusive Interview With Chris Clough

On 7th November 1974, 29 year old nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death with a piece of bandaged lead pipe in the basement kitchen of the Lucan family home in Belgravia. Shortly afterwards John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, disappeared. Almost four decades later, ITV is set to shine a light on the crime that shook the 20th century with a …

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The History of Abbreviation

As an undergraduate, one of my lecturers once said that language is a tug-of-war between laziness and comprehensibility. Laziness, and our desire to communicate with as little effort as possible will make language change, but our need for comprehension will temper how much it changes. Text-language is a perfect example of this – we want to fit as much information …

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WOMEN ON BANKNOTES

My favourite book in the whole of the university library was Beauty and The Banknote, by Virginia Hewitt, published by British Museum Press. This monochrome picture book commands its own place in the Dewey decimal system category of Printed Paper Money (next to Postage Stamps and Related Devices, in case you were wondering) and contains pictures of women appearing on …

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