Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight: Theodore Roosevelt and celebrity-presidents.

I spent a lot of time thinking about America this week. I wrote two short editorials about the election, and I thought that this week’s non-fiction spotlight might pick up on the things I discussed there, but instead I’ve chosen to reflect on the changes that have happened throughout history to the role that the president plays in the US.
Theodore Roosevelt has been much explored for his role as a huge transformative force in US politics: one of the most interesting things to consider is the role that his personal character, one might call it a ‘brand,’ had on how the public viewed him as a person, and how it has since changed the role the president plays in America.

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Sunday Non-Fiction Spotlight – Microhistories & ‘The Cheese and the Worms’

This Sunday is the first ever non-fiction spotlight in the new format of the blog, so I thought it might be a good time to introduce a particular genre that you’ll be seeing a lot of: the microhistory. Sunday posts might also involve biographies, essays or other stuff.

Microhistories are close to my heart: they are intense historical studies based on close-reading of specific source material which produces a detailed piece of work that looks at first glance like a case study, but actually stretches itself outwards to broader themes and ideas within longue-durée historical narratives.  You find case-studies in lots of normal histories, but the microhistory uniquely focuses on a small time frame, often a single event, or a small group of people, or an individual, in order to flesh out an important stitch that would otherwise be missing in the fabric of history.

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Orwell, Nationalism, Brexit and Historical Foresight – An editorial, post-referendum.

The London Palace Coat of Arms features a Lion and a Unicorn: the two animals that George Orwell used to title a now infamous essay about nationalism, class and Britain’s lack of European identity. I’m writing about it today in a ponderous post that will look at English Socialism, historical understandings of our apparent island-identity, and the way that Orwell always seems to have known what to say.

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What’s a City State? – An Editorial about the EU Referendum

So the EU referendum happened, and for almost half of us it did not go the way we wanted it to. This post looks at city-states, potential ‘Londonpendence,’ Scottish Independence, and mentions Northern Ireland. Quick shout- if you voted pro-Brexit, be aware that this is billed as an editorial, and it’s going to be chock full of angry bias.

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The Penguincubator: books don’t just fall from the sky.

Today’s post is a real weird one- we’ve all used vending machines and we’ve all read books. But I’ve never bought a book from a vending machine. Nevertheless, there’s a real history to be told, because they crop up more often than you might think. Today we’re taking a little microhistorical look at literary vending devices- starting with the Penguincubator.

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