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White ‘Slaves’: Christopher Codrington and His Disputes with Colonial Elites

Recently there has been considerable debate about the legacy of Christopher Codrington, and his bequests to Oxford University’s All Souls College. As a dominant plantation-owner in the British Caribbean, Codrington’s wealth was built on the labour and lives of enslaved people, and the plantation profits he left for All Souls continue to cause public controversy. Under the pressure of activists and campaigners, All Souls has decided to change the name of Codrington Library, but not to move Codrington’s statue which stands in the centre of the library [Oxford University’s All Souls College drops Christopher Codrington’s name from its library—but refuses to remove slave owner’s statue | Anny Shaw | The Art Newspaper]. Whilst attention has very rightly focused on his slave-holding, we should also not forget his involvement in bitter internecine conflict with local elites and the related language of slavery among the white community.

Thu 16 Dec 2021, 16:13 | Tags: Britain

Structuring the Universe: The Making and Reception of Thomas Wright’s Stellar Astronomy

In 1750, the English astronomer Thomas Wright published his treatise An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe. In it, he explained the visual phenomenon of the Milky Way in terms of an ordered structure of stars surrounding a centre of various possible natures. Wright’s originality lay in being the first to give the Milky Way an ordered structure, and while his supposed structure has since been disproved, his hypothesis influenced later astronomical inquiries into the shape and nature of the Milky Way. Such is the story of how Wright fits into the development of modern astronomical conceptions of the universe. But there is another story about how theology played an essential role in Wright’s astronomical conceptions of the Milky Way and of the universe.

Fri 03 Dec 2021, 10:59

What the French Revolution Reveals about Modern Struggles over Social Rights

In recent decades, it has become common for human-rights scholars to refer to social rights – such as those to work, welfare, education and healthcare – as ‘second generation rights’, as twentieth-century ‘socialist’ additions to the ‘liberal’ corpus of civil and political rights bequeathed by Age of Democratic Revolutions of the eighteenth century.

Killing Yourself to Laugh: Joking about Suicide and Self-Harm in Early Modern England

Legally and morally, early modern English society abhorred suicide. Suicide was a crime for which one would be posthumously tried. It was also an act which, for Protestants, consigned an individual to hell forever. Non-fatal self-harm was no less discouraged, as permanent mutilation of oneself went against God.

Fri 26 Nov 2021, 13:13 | Tags: Early Modern, Self-Harm, Britain, Suicide