Keeping calm Between c.1346-1353, the Great Plague – now commonly referred to as the ‘Black Death’ - killed an estimated 50% of Europe’s population. Between 1348 and 1350, about 1.5 million people died in England of the disease. Yet its arrival, progress and impact is rarely mentioned in contemporary English sources. This talk will consider how testamentary evidence can shed light on the urban elite’s response to the arrival of the Black Death in Oxford. It will be argued that, whilst the wills rarely refer explicitly to the disease, they do speak volumes about the response by the townspeople. Rather than descending into chaos in the face of the plague, Oxford’s urban elite took measures to ensure that both their family affairs and the governance of the town were kept – as far as was possible – in good running order.
Out of Chaos Amidst this year's commemorations of 1914 and 1944, a deepening awareness of how artists and designers represented and participated in the First and Second World Wars is becoming a central part of our collective memory of these conflicts. Art, graphic design and spectacle served to inform, to persuade and to sustain in wartime; camouflage and intelligence systems deceived and protected both combatants and the home front; housing was reinvented amidst ruin and a dearth of materials. This paper will focus particularly on case studies drawn from the French experience during and after the Occupation considering the ways in which the pressures of physical and psychological dislocation provided the catalyst for design innovation. This reimagining of public and private space will be explored through Jean Prouvé's temporary housing structures for displaced populations in Lorraine and the mobile public art of tapestry which emerged from a clandestine form of resistance in the Auvergne region in the Free Zone to be the public face of Fourth Republic France, rebuffing the received wisdom that after 1945 New York of the Abstract Expressionists was the epicentre of modern visual culture.
Managing The Human Factor Writing The Human Factor in Business in 1921, Seebohm Rowntree mused upon possible ways to prevent Britain descending into the revolutionary chaos which had consumed much of Eastern Europe and Russia. Wartime Britain had been shaken by widespread industrial action, and Rowntree, as head of the Health of Munition Workers' Committee at the Ministry of Munitions, had been at the heart of efforts to solve industrial problems and produce for the war effort. But how, he contemplated, could he re-establish harmony and prosperity at his Cocoa Works in such a tumultuous world? This talk will examine how Rowntree and his staff internalised the use of dynamic statistical data from his York poverty studies, still famous to this day, into the Haxby Road works. Time studies and motion studies were conducted for thousands of hours in an attempt to establish exactly how much work should reasonably be done. Elaborate Whitley negotiation committees were established to discuss, among other things, the data produced by these studies. 1,300 interviews were conducted with workers, overlookers, and managers. As part of this talk, we will examine what these lost industrial voices had to say.
Michelle is currently working towards her DPhil in English Local History. Her thesis addresses the changing nature and type of gifts made by the townspeople of late medieval/early Tudor Oxford (c.1300-1542) to their religious institutions. She has recently taught a weekly class called ‘Medieval Oxford, c.1066-1300’ for the Department for Continuing Education. She is returning in Trinity Term of next year to teach Part II, which is imaginatively titled ‘Medieval Oxford, c.1300-1485’. Michelle is also educated up to Mphil level in Medieval English Literature and, until recently, worked as a Property solicitor in social housing.
Claire O'Mahony PhD is Course Director of the MSt in the History of Design; Director of Graduate Studies for the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College. Her teaching and research explores the regional and leftist politics of decoration in France between 1871 and 1968. Recent publications include: ‘War within the walls: Conflict and Citizenship in the murals of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ Journal of War and Culture Studies, 6.1, (February, 2013) 6-23; ‘The colony within: Cultural regeneration and the troubadours of Toulouse’s Capitole’, K Griffiths and D Evans, eds., Institutions and Power (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press, 2011); ‘Cubist Chameleons: André Mare, the camoufleurs, and the canons of art history’, Journal of War and Culture Studies (Spring, 2010); Editor, Symbolist Objects: Subjectivity and Materiality at the Fin de Siècle (High Wycombe: Rivendale Press, 2009); ‘Fin-de-siècle fantasy to the Western Front: The aesthetic gardens of Nancy’, Garden History, 36-2, Nov. 2008; ‘La Maison d’un artiste: The Goncourts, the bibelot and fin-de-siècle interiority’ in H Hendrix, ed., Writers’ Houses and the Making of Memory (London: Routledge, 2007); 'Émile Gallé and La Loraine Artiste', special issue Art on the Line, 3 (2007); Brunel and the Art of Invention (Bristol: Sansome and Co, 2006 in conjunction with exhibition held Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 15 April -18 June 2006).
Michael Weatherburn Michael completed the OUDCE Foundation Certificate in Modern History in 2005, and then a BA in Modern History at Regent's Park College in 2008. He graduated with joint Imperial-UCL MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in 2009. He has recently completed a history PhD at Imperial College, where he seeks to recover and explore many facets of the twentieth-century British factory floor. He presently teaches the global history of industry and the history of economic ideas at Imperial, and was Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellow at Oxford University from 2013-14. firstname.lastname@example.org