Skip to main content

A club for eighteenth-century specialists? Gadzooks!


I have been thinking about starting a club for disaffected specialists in the eighteenth century, who never get to teach anything to do with the eighteenth century any more. Thought of calling it the Society of Historical Redundancy - which seems suitably bitter.

This society will meet in the upstairs room of Starbucks coffee shop in Stratford, where coffee and chocolate will be quaffed in a boisterous manner.  All members will be required to rest one leg on a table or chair to indicate an attitude of relaxed and daring bravado or (if we are lucky) outright debauchery.

The dress code will be wigs (worn at a jaunty angle), tights, snuff-boxes (the snuff is optional), satirical sneers and oversize hats which can be thrown into the air at random moments and for no discernable reason.

The debates will range from topics such as the meaning of life, science, poverty and education, but will mostly involve bitching about the seventeenth century ('what a waste of a hundred years'), the nineteenth century ('modernist bastards') and Horace Walpole ('the dandy').

Members will be referred to either as 'la, sir', or 'zounds, madam'.  Insults must, of course, be within the limits of polite discourse - ranging from the ironic eyebrow but not extending beyond 'gadzooks, you tit'.

Membership will last for approximately 4 years, after which members will be banished from the country for the remainder of their sorry lives - although they will, of course, be spoken of affectionately once everyone has forgotten just how nasty they really were.

On Saturday nights we will be suffocating domesticated pets for entertainment.

Interested? To join simply get Will Self to to agree with something you say and send the recording to me.

It is my firm belief that such a society would soon demonstrate the importance of the eighteenth century, and the need for it to be firmly embedded in the curriculum at all levels.

Oh, and no Catholics.

Popular posts from this blog

2) Introduction to morphemes

So does language begin with words?

No. Language begins with sounds. It is important to understand this first and foremost. We have already raised this point, but it is worth raising again – language begins with sounds!

If I appear to be emphasizing this with a rather bizarre desperation, it is because it would be easy to think that since we are beginning our exploration of language and linguistics with words that this is where language begins. When you think about it logically though, all words are composed of various sounds grouped together. The word ‘cat’ is composed of three distinct sounds - /c/, /a/ and /t/.

So why aren’t we starting with looking at how sounds create language?

Well, in the not-too-distant past, when European football used to be free on the telly, Manchester United or Arsenal would jet off to Spain for a titanic contest with Barcelona. When the commentators referred to Barcelona, they would pronounce it ‘Bar-se-low-nah’ (bɑ:sɜ:ləʊnæ). After a few years th…

6) Places and Manners of Articulation

Place of Articulation
The place of articulation refers to “the point in the vocal tract where the speech organs restrict the passage of air in some way so pro¬ducing distinctive speech sounds” (Finch, 1999). As with manner of articulation, places of articulation are more frequently used to describe consonants than vowels. The following are the principal terms used in linguistics to describe these:



Bilabial.Sounds formed by both lips coming together” (Finch, 1999).Examples include /b/, /p/ and /m/.

'It's owned by Elsevier': Why this is relevant when choosing referencing software

At my University we are currently discussing how to provide support for software that can help students and staff manage their references and sources.  There are of course many different options available on the market - some free, and some not.  During discussions I have made no secret of my preference for Zotero - which I believe offers the most intuitive and comprehensive functionality.  To this end, I have done some showcases of Zotero for various academics - which appear to illicit one of three responses from them:


Oh, brave new world that has such software in it!  I had no idea - and I want it now!We already use it.  Have been for years.  So why are you telling us about it now?But don't we already have Mendeley in our official software catalogue?

I fully expected the first response - but was surprised at the number of people who came back with the second and third.  It is really rather nice to be able to tell academics who fight tirelessly each year to teach academic referen…