Open Access (free)
The King’s Speech as melodrama

In his review of The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper, 2010), Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw remarks that the Oscar-winning film shows ‘some cheek at presenting an English monarch as the underdog’. 1 However, although melodrama traditionally ‘sides with the powerless’, 2 it has become a common mode through which the British monarchy is represented in contemporary British

in The British monarchy on screen
Open Access (free)
Watt’s unwelcome home

birth: the actual birth of Larry Nixon, and Watt’s own arrival into the fiction. Next, there is a detailed reading of Arsene’s speech to Watt (as the former prepares to leave Knott’s house for the last time) that suggests early anxiety situations; the next section examines Watt’s stay in the house, with particular emphasis on the emotional (non-)connection between the two characters, and Watt’s reaction to this failure in primary attachment. Finally, there is discussion of various symbols suggesting early maternal failure, of disruptions in nurturing, and of scenes

in Samuel Beckett and the primacy of love
Wilkes and America

Henry Fox, who wrote in December 1765, when Grenville was in opposition. ‘Mr Grenville, who never was thought to speak well, till he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, is now again the most wretched speaker in the House’.18 What gave point to this concern about Parliament was the expectation of a major controversy there. For in the opinion of both George III and the Grenville cabinet John Wilkes had at last exposed himself to prosecution for his weekly North Briton, when in the forty-fifth issue on 23 April he had attacked the King’s Speech at the end of the previous

in George III
Ideology and the Conservative Party, 1997–2001

economic ideas. The years 1997 to 2001 were merely part of a period in which there was widespread agreement on these matters, so that governments were judged on their competence more than their convictions. What is ‘conservatism?’ The nature of British conservatism has been vigorously contested for much of the post-war period, and after the electoral meltdown of 1997 it was reasonable to expect a flurry of impassioned speeches and pamphlets setting out rival interpretations. Michael Oakeshott, whose name is invoked with respect by almost everyone who addresses this

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Open Access (free)

the occasional phone call.) In the light of all this, it is easy to overlook the fundamental importance of speech, the oldest form of intelligent communication, and of its receptionend counterpart, hearing. Although modern social theorists decry the disintegration of society, or of the family, and have argued that we are becoming atomized individuals without enduring social bonds, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Conversation, the subject of analysis by social scientists,1 is now much less formal than it was a hundred or even fifty years 1 Introduction

in The spoken word
Debates about potential and ambition in British socialist thought

Gordon Brown’s party conference speech in 2007 represents something of a landmark in British political history in the extent to which it placed the idea of encouraging people’s talents and ambitions at the centre of his political vision. It also points to some ways in which an emphasis on encouraging the development of people’s potential, talents and ambitions has been, and can continue to be, of substantial benefit to socialists, in terms both of helping them to win elections and achieving some of their deepest objectives of equality and empowerment. Two brief points

in In search of social democracy
Animal language and the return of loss in Beowulf

critical environment, it is worth paying a bit more attention to an avian speech-act at the end of Beowulf . Wiglaf's messenger to Beowulf's people, the Geats, announces Beowulf's death and predicts a brutal invasion once the Swedes hear of his passing. He concludes a harrowing series of predictions with avian speech: ‘se wonna hrefn / … / earne secgan, hu him æt æte speow, / þenden he wið wulf wæl reafode’ (the dark raven … will tell the eagle how he surpassed him in eating, when he with the wolf laid waste to the slain) (3024a–7). I argue that this moment of inter

in Dating Beowulf

. Catholics, Jews, and political radicals found it more difficult to assert themselves and were sometimes completely excluded from the academic community.5 During the same period, competition increased among the academic disciplines. Ultimately, the conflict was about the meaning of the concept of Wissenschaft. In a speech from 1892, the Berlin university’s rector (this term will be used from now on to refer to the Rektor, or vice-chancellor/president, of a German university), Rudolf Virchow, declared that ‘the dominance of neohumanism is broken’. Virchow, who was a

in Humboldt and the modern German university

opposition. As Shadow Chancellor, Michael Portillo maintained the ‘Sterling Guarantee’ outlined in the 1999 Common Sense Revolution and backed Bank of England independence. In February 2000 Hague launched a ‘Keep the Pound’ campaign, stepping aboard a flatbed truck to take his pro-sterling message around the country. The Conservatives focused on the economic case against EMU, though political and constitutional concerns also surfaced. In his first party conference speech, Hague apologised for ERM membership and warned that EMU would bring greater dangers. A month later he

in The Conservatives in Crisis

Anglo-Saxon ‘things’ could talk. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book Riddles, telling us how they were made or how they behave. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood will come across a tree possessing the voice of a dreaming human in order to talk about its own history as a gallows and a rood. The Franks Casket is a box of bone that alludes to its former fate as a whale that swam aground onto the shingle, and the Ruthwell monument is a stone column that speaks as if it were living wood, or a wounded body.

This book uncovers the voice and agency that these nonhuman things have across Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture. It makes a new contribution to ‘thing theory’ and rethinks conventional divisions between animate human subjects and inanimate nonhuman objects in the early Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon writers and craftsmen describe artefacts and animals through riddling forms or enigmatic language, balancing an attempt to speak and listen to things with an understanding that these nonhumans often elude, defy and withdraw from us. The active role that things have in the early medieval world is also linked to the Germanic origins of the word, where a þing is a kind of assembly, with the ability to draw together other elements, creating assemblages in which human and nonhuman forces combine. Anglo-Saxon things teach us to rethink the concept of voice as a quality that is not simply imposed upon nonhumans but which inheres in their ways of existing and being in the world; they teach us to rethink the concept of agency as arising from within groupings of diverse elements, rather than always emerging from human actors alone.