On 27 September, the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War will launch KCBH member Dr David Morgan-Owen’s The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914.
Britain’s entry into the First World War and the subsequent decision to send her Army to fight on the continent remains one of the most controversial topics of her modern history. How and why the Army was committed to the battlefields of Europe—where it would suffer such terrible losses over the next four years— and whether Britain might have fought the War in a different way are questions that continue to provoke debate over a century later. The Fear of Invasion tells the story of how Britain entered the First World War with the strategy it did, and reveals how this approach came about. It charts how the British government’s capacity to co-ordinate the activities of the Army and Navy into a coherent ‘grand’ strategy fluctuated between 1880 and 1914, with insidious effects for the nation’s preparedness during the July Crisis. It does so by focusing on the key issue which acted as a nexus between the activities of the two services and which, in the absence of a willingness to consider how to fight a major war, came to act as the de-facto determinant of British strategy. That issue was the defence of the British Isles against invasion: the area of policy where the roles of the two services overlapped most directly and most obviously, and the one aspect of strategy which politicians were prepared to pronounce meaningfully upon prior to 1914.
David G. Morgan-Owen is an historian of war and lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London. He was previously a Visiting Research Fellow at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, and an Associate of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies at the University of Exeter, where he gained his PhD in 2013. Dr. Morgan-Owen has published on British strategy before and during the First World War in the English Historical Review, War in History, Journal of Strategic Studies, and the International History Review.
This event is free to attend but registration is required here.
You can now listen to the audio from KCBH member Dr Nick Lloyd’s book launch of Passchendaele: A New History out with Penguin. The Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War hosted the launch on 4 May with Professor Bill Philpott acting as chair.
Two well-established research centres within the School of Security Studies have joined forces, bringing together the largest community of historians of war in the world.
Leading scholars from the Research Centre for the History of Conflict (RCHC) and the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War (SMHC) will collaborate on multi-disciplinary research projects, publications and offer a wide remit of expertise for doctoral supervision. The joining of these research groups will foster multiple perspectives and exposure, generating new ideas research projects that will impact the wider research community.
This event will comprise three main themes: the study of war within the broader discipline of history, the place of historical study within War Studies, and how the people who study the history of war shape the discipline. By investigating case studies from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first century using a diverse range of methodological approaches, the event aims to foster an open dialogue about:
How scholars have studied and written about the history of conflict in the past
Current developments in the field
How we might promote innovative approaches and methodologies
Inter and intra disciplinary collaboration in the study of war
The event aims to take a first step towards a new way of thinking about the history of conflict, and the role its study can play in the modern world. Sign up here.
King’s History department has launched a partnership with the Black Cultural Archives that will develop a new jointly-taught module.
The relationship was inaugurated with a public lecture by Paul Reid, the archives’ director, introduced by King’s Principal and President Professor Ed Byrne. The partnership will include a second year undergraduate module jointly by Dr Alana Harris and BCA staff.
25 years of the Black Cultural Archives
The Black Cultural Archives was founded in 1981 with a mission to collect, preserve and celebrate the heritage and history of Black people in Britain. It opened the UK’s first dedicated Black Heritage Centre in Brixton, London in July 2014. BCA’s collection includes personal papers, the records of political and cultural organisations, photographs, and a small collection of objects. Since 2014 it has hosted a series of exhibitions on subjects which range from Black Georgians to Black sound from the early twentieth century to now.
At the opening lecture ‘The Black Cultural Archives: Towards a National Institution’, Paul Reid spoke about the moment in the early 1980s when the BCA was founded, and argued for the importance of long-term institution-building in the struggle to have Black history – and Black people – recognised as part of the national history of Britain. Professor Byrne linked the partnership to the aims expressed in King’s new strategic vision, particularly the aspiration for King’s to become London’s civic university with deep connections to the life of the city beyond academia.
Black in the Union Jack, a new undergraduate module
The joint King’s-BCA module, ‘Black in the Union Jack’, will begin in September 2017, and will be partially be taught at the BCA in Brixton. Students will explore the experience of African and African-Caribbean communities in the UK, and will develop research projects with hands-on access to the resources in the BCA’s collections.
In addition, the BCA and King’s historians are working together on a school syllabus on African history, and will develop a series of events on the place of Black history in Britain’s national narratives over the coming year.
‘No10 and the History of the Prime Minister’ is the result of a unique collaboration between No 10 Downing Street, the Policy Institute at King’s and the Department of Political Economy where students gain unprecedented insight into the theory and practice of British Political and governmental history since the Second World War from those who have dealt with it first hand. It is taught by Dr Jon Davis and co-taught by doctoral candidate Michelle Clement. When possible the class is co-taught by the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary and Visiting Senior Research Fellow Dr Simon Case.
The modules feature many special guest lecturers including; the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood in a class taught around the Cabinet Table in Number 10 Downing Street; the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator Sir David Omand, Former cabinet secretaries Lord Wilson of Dinton and Lord Butler of Brockwell; Constitutional historian Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield and Professor in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London John Bew. The course concluded with former Prime Minister David Cameron talking to students at King’s College London on the subject of ‘Being Prime Minister.’
‘The Blair Years’ is a module taught by Dr Jon Davis and Visiting Professor John Rentoul (biographer of Tony Blair and Chief Political Commentator, The Independent) which examines Tony Blair as Prime Minister. Special attention is given to the memoirs and diaries of the central protagonists including Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Jonathan Powell.
The module features testimony from key practitioners. In 2017 these were; Tony Blair’s former Director of Government Relations Anji Hunter; former Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell; former HM Treasury Permanent Secretary Lord Macpherson of Earls Court; former Secretary of State for Education and Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury Ed Balls; former Minister for Education and Secretary of State for transport Lord Adonis; former Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Defence Sir Kevin Tebbit and Tony Blair’s former Director of Communications and Strategy Alastair Campbell.
KCBH’s Alana Harris, Laura Carter, and Maggie Scull recently installed a ‘pop up’ exhibition of portraits in the Institute of Historical Research, featuring pictures of women historians who were active in the ‘intellectual space’ of London since the foundation of the IHR in 1921. Seen alongside the existing portraits of past IHR Directors, these images seek to tell an alternative story of historical activity in twentieth-century Britain, and put gender at the heart of the development of the profession.
This exhibition was organised and funded by the department of history at King’s College London. It was launched at a conference on 13 March 2017, to coincide with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day 2017. It will remain on display for all to see at the IHR over the spring and summer of 2017.
The women historians featured in the exhibit include Eileen Power, Rhoda Power, Caroline Skeel, Lillian Penson, Joyce Godber, Joan Thirsk, Leonore Davidoff, Lisa Jardine, Helen Maud Cam, Margaret Gowing, Eleanor Carus Wilson, Ellen McArthur, Lilian Knowles, Rosalind Hill, Dona Torr, Olive Anderson, Frances Yates, Patricia (Trisha) Crawford, Vera Anstey and Mary Stocks.
Thirty years ago There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation was published. BBC Radio 3’s Philip Dodd talks to the author Professor Paul Gilroy about its impact and whether discussions about race and culture in Britain have moved on or not. You can catch the interview here.
The Study of Contemporary British History at King's College London