Category Archives: Authors

New series: Sexualities in Society, edited by Helen Hester – call for proposals

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Ashgate Publishing is delighted to announce the launch of a new series: Sexualities in Society. Edited by Helen Hester (Lecturer in Promotional Cultures at Middlesex University, UK and author of Beyond Explicit: Pornography and the Displacement of Sex (SUNY Press, 2014) and co-editor of Fat Sex (Ashgate, 2015), it will offer a dedicated and much-needed space for the very best in interdisciplinary research on sex, sexualities, and twenty-first century society.

Its contemporary focus, methodological inclusivity, and international scope will provide a distinctive vantage point in terms of surveying the social organization of sexuality. It critically addresses numerous aspects of sex and sexuality, from media representations, to embodied sexual practices, to the sometimes controversial issues surrounding consent, sexual fantasy, and identity politics. It represents a critically rigorous, theoretically informed, and genuinely interdisciplinary attempt to interrogate a complex nexus of ideas regarding the ways in which sexualities inform, and are informed by, the broader sociopolitical contexts in which they emerge.

For further information about the series, including details of how to submit a proposal, please email Senior Commissioning Editor for Sociology Claire Jarvis (

New series: Image, Text and Culture in Classical Antiquity – Call for proposals

We are currently seeking book proposals for a new series Image, Text and Culture in Classical Antiquity edited by Michael Squire, King’s College, London

Since the Renaissance – and arguably much earlier – European culture has looked to the Classical world for inspiration and enlightenment, and measured its own achievements by the standards of the classical world.

In order to better comprehend this culture, both on its own terms and in light of subsequent generations, this new series provides an innovative and interdisciplinary forum for original research into the arts, literature and cultural history of the Classical World. Attuned to the ways in which different cultural forms mediate different understandings of the Classical past, the series explores both the problems and opportunities of reconstructing classical culture from its surviving archaeological and literary traces. By crossing traditional disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries within and beyond the field of Classics, and drawing on approaches developed outside its historicist parameters, the series engages a broad readership from a range of academic perspectives.

As the series title suggests, one defining interest is the intersection (no less than divergence) between Classical visual and verbal media. In what ways do images and texts construct different records of the past, and how did ancient artists and writers themselves theorise the relations between the readable and the visible? Drawing on recent comparative literary and visual cultural studies, the series explores how interdisciplinary approaches can illuminate different aspects of ancient cultural and intellectual history, whilst also showing how Classical materials can in turn nuance more modern theories of visual and verbal mediation.

The Classical world offers a unique opportunity for such study, not only due to its influence on subsequent western literary and artistic traditions, but also because its art is matched only by the sophistication of contemporary written and inscribed texts (and vice versa). The simultaneously collaborating and competing relationships between different media raise broader questions about both historical method and the history of western reading and seeing.

Publishing monographs concerned with all periods of Classical and Graeco-Roman history, from Archaic Greece all the way through to late antiquity, the series is particularly interested in projects structured according to theme, medium or methodological problem rather than chronological timeframe. By studying relations between different media, it offers new historical perspectives on the cultural contexts that gave rise to them; probing, interrogating and provoking scholarship across a wide range of academic disciplines.

For more information on how to submit a book proposal to the series, please contact Tom Gray, at

Series Advisory Board:

Professor Jas’ Elsner, University of Oxford / University of Chicago

Professor Jonas Grethlein, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg

Professor François Lissarrague, l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

Professor Katharina Lorenz, University of Nottingham

Professor Clemente Marconi, New York University

Professor Susanne Muth, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Professor Richard Neer, University of Chicago

Professor Verity Platt, Cornell University

Dr Jeremy Tanner, University College London

Professor Jennifer Trimble, Stanford

Professor Tim Whitmarsh, University of Oxford

Professor Froma Zeitlin, University of Princeton

The Long Shadows of War: The Aftermath and Legacies of Conflicts in Europe – a guest post from Tim Haughton

Tim HaughtonThis is a guest post by Tim Haughton, Reader (Associate Professor) in European Politics at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, at the University of Birmingham.

This year is full of poignant anniversaries; none more so than the outbreak of the First World War. Whilst the century of the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ has focused attention on the causes of the conflict, as the contributions to the forthcoming edited volume, Aftermath: Legacies and Memories of War in Europe, 1918-1945-1989 highlight, the sight of poppies in the first half of November should also give us pause to reflect on the long shadows cast by that war.

The First World War was the defining conflict of modern European history. Empires were swept away, new states created, social relations were transformed, and old orders were defeated or weakened, bringing in some cases new forces to power, galvanized and legitimized by radical ideological agendas.

Although a century has passed since the guns fell silent and we have lost the last living connections to those battlefields, the aftermath of the First World War, particularly the redrawing of the borders through the Peace Treaties of 1919–1923, continues to matter. Versailles, St. Germain and Trianon bequeathed demographic legacies which shape domestic politics and colour relations between countries, such as Hungary and Slovakia, long after the last casualty fell on the battlefield.

The shadows of war, however, not only matter for countries. We should not underestimate the impact of war and its immediate aftermath on ordinary citizens. Young men were forced to fight in the dirty, noisy and cramped trenches of the First World War, periodically putting their heads above the parapet and advancing into volleys of machine gun fire when asked to go over the top for the sake of a few metres of muddy Flanders fields. For them the war was a profoundly formative experience. The sense of loss and sacrifice felt by the returning soldiers marked them out and isolated them from others in their societies, and this inevitably created divisions.

Indeed, wars create multiple divisions: not just between different countries and empires, and not just between different ethnic groups and regions within a country, but also, as one of the contributors to the volume Mary Fulbrook argues, between generations. War is a transformative experience, which affects generations in different ways. Different generations draw different conclusions and find it difficult to relate to other generations whom they see as obsessive or fundamentally detached from the conflict.

Stress on the individual underlines that there are both private and public aftermaths of war which may sometimes stand in stark contrast. The reified historical narratives of the public may grate and be at odds with the painful personal aftermaths of soldiers and civilians.

Nonetheless, the dark clouds of war can have their silver linings. As Stephen Forcer’s chapter in the volume highlights, such tensions between the personal and the public can provoke – or at least contribute to ‒ innovative cultural trends like the emergence of Dada and Surrealism both of which emerged in part as a reaction to officials and national narratives about the First World War. Indeed, it seems appropriate that from the most absurd of modern conflicts emerged schools of thinking which reify the absurd.


Tim Haughton is Reader (Associate Professor) in European Politics at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, at the University of Birmingham. He is author of ‘Constraints and Opportunities of Leadership in Post-Communist Europe’ (Aldershot & Burlington, 2005) and editor of ‘Party Politics in Central and Eastern Europe: Does EU Membership Matter?’ (London, 2010); and ‘The JCMS Annual Review of the European Union’ (Oxford, 2009-present). He was Director of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies from 2012 to 2014.Aftermath

Aftermath: Legacies of War in Europe – 1918, 1945, 1989, edited by Nicholas Martin, Tim Haughton and Pierre Pursiegle is published by Ashgate in December 2014.

Strange coincidence and strange fact: an Ashgate book title featured last week as the answer to a question in the popular US game show Jeopardy

Posted by Sarah Stilwell, Senior Marketing Executive

Prize-winning Ashgate author Richard Weisman recently contacted us to tell us of his astonishment at a strange coincidence and a bizarre connection that took place last week after his son happened to mention to his friend the title of his Dad’s book.

Later that day, October 28th, randomly and by coincidence, the son’s friend was watching the game show Jeopardy on TV and reported that the answer to one of the game show questions was the title of Richard Weisman’s book!

Showing remorseHappily, the contestant got the right answer: Showing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of Emotion. Even the Ashgate series Law, Justice and Power, of which this book is part, got a mention.

To quote Richard Weisman: “once you enter the public domain, you never know what’s going to happen. I have no idea how the book got referenced, but maybe one of the producers of the show is a lawyer going for his PhD.”

You can watch the October 28 episode here. The book is mentioned at 2.38…

General Sir Henry Horne and the renaissance in British military thought during the First World War – a guest post from Simon Robbins

Simon RobbinsThis is a guest post from Simon Robbins, Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010)

This year, 2014, has seen the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which offers an opportunity to re-examine the performance on the Western Front of the armies led by Douglas Haig, which remains one of the most controversial eras in the history of the British Army. The public still regards the German Army as the model of military excellence during the First World War while disdaining the British Army as the exemplar of military incompetence and inefficiency.  In reality, the British Army had undergone a profound, often painful, change between 1914 and 1918, becoming remarkably efficient by 1918.  It had progressed from being a small professional force organised for colonial policing to a mass army of volunteers and conscripts which fought a large-scale, high-intensity continental war against a first-class enemy.

The British performance on the battlefield improved considerably between 1915 and 1918. The Last Hundred Days campaign between August and November 1918 was one of the most brilliant offensives of the First World War.  For far too long, the historiography of the British Army during the Great War has focused on the personality of Douglas Haig, who has been a lightning rod for discontent about the performance of the British High Command and given an undue significance.  Insufficient attention has been paid to other senior military figures, notably the army and corps commanders, who led the troops on the battlefield.

The career of Henry Horne who commanded XV Corps and then First Army between 1916 and 1918 provides insights into the learning process on the Western Front and hard evidence of how effective the British Army was. Horne was a highly professional artillery officer and his career contradicts many of the commonly held assumptions about the British High Command.  He was not a chateau general but regularly visited his troops, supervised their training, looked after their comforts and minimized their casualties.  Horne was an outstanding example of the group of senior officers who rose to high command during the final two years of the war.

A renaissance in British military thought in 1916-18, which has been overshadowed by the horrific casualties of the Somme and Ypres, provided not only the basis for the achievement of a British victory in 1918 but also for military development for the rest of the century. In 1917-18 Horne was at the forefront of these developments and his assaults on the Scarpe, the Drocourt – Quéant Line and the Canal du Nord in August and September 1918 were models of combined operations, which broke through the German defences on key sections of their front, inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans and forcing them to retreat.  As an Army Commander Horne would employ the vast fire-power which was available to British commanders as a result of tactical development and innovation during 1916-17.  Along with Birdwood (Fifth Army), Byng (Third Army), Plumer (Second Army) and Rawlinson (Fourth Army), Horne deserves to be remembered as one of the major architects of victory in 1918.


British generalship during the great warSimon Robbins is Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and is the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010). Robbins’ book follows the career of Sir Henry Horne to challenge long-held assumptions that the First World War was a senseless bloodbath conducted by unimaginative and incompetent generals. He presents a new model in which men like Horne developed new tactics and techniques to deal with the problem of trench warfare, and in so doing seeks to re-establish the image of the British general.

Military Historian David French on British Generalship During the Great War in The Journal of Modern History:

‘Anyone picking up this book might be forgiven for asking whether we really need another study of the British army during the First World War, and, if we do, whether a biography of a general known to very few besides specialist military historians is the right way to approach the subject. The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes… [Robbins] has now written a study of Sir Henry Horne that not only helps to rescue his career for posterity but also sheds a good deal of light on how the army went about its business between 1914 and 1918.’


Announcing a new interdisciplinary series, Sanctity in Global Perspective – a guest post from Alison Frazier

Alison FrazierThis is a guest post from Alison Frazier, President of The Hagiography Society

The Hagiography Society is proud to join Ashgate in sponsoring Sanctity in Global Perspective, a series dedicated to multidisciplinary explorations of the concept of sanctity.

Not every global tradition venerates “saints,” as such, but all identify people of extraordinary virtue—of radically ambiguous “power”—whose lives and actions demand to be admired, honored, and imitated.

That veneration marks a potent site of cultural work, a place at once special and quotidian where a community’s ambitions and nightmares settle, where comedy nests with tragedy in the group’s identification of the “saint” and ritual elaboration of cult.

Cult thus finds expression in repetition and improvisation, in luxury and deprivation, in peace and violence, in humble obedience and arrogant defiance, in the chthonic, reliquary body and the ethereal, mystical one. The scholar of sanctity addresses evidence that ranges from the visual, musical, and literary, to the architectural, pedagogical, and political. Cults stretch over many centuries and across disparate geographies. Their stories elicit every emotion, and invite comparison.

As a cultural locus, the “saint” both condenses and challenges a tradition’s beliefs and devotional practices. Sanctity may be put to serve cynical strategies as easily as noble aspirations, may reflect both a community’s optimism and its despair. The saint enfolds a tradition’s attitudes to birth and death, to family and kinship, as well as to institutions and rulers.

Sanctity in Global Perspective welcomes critical scholarship that brings new texts, images, spaces, and ideas into the world’s long conversation about extraordinary virtue. We seek to foster the crosspollination of ideas across traditions, regions, and academic disciplines.

About the series editors: Shahzad Bahir is Lysbeth Warren Anderson Professor in Islamic Studies (Department of Religious Studies) at Stanford University, USA. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski is Professor of French at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. John Stratton Hawley is Professor of Religion at Barnard College, USA.

For more information on how to submit a book proposal to the series, please contact Erika Gaffney, or see

The Elizabethan Top Ten – a rigorous, entertaining and provocative set of studies in the print culture of a defining era

‘The Elizabethan Top Ten is a rigorous, entertaining and provocative set of studies in the print culture of a defining era. Given the number of avenues it opens up, and the new lights it throws upon an apparently familiar scene, Smith and Kesson’s wish that it will prompt more debate seems certain to be amply fulfilled.’    Quite Irregular Blog

‘… The Elizabethan Top Ten offers more than ten compelling reasons for deserving popularity among humanities scholars and students.’   Journal of British Studies

The Elizabethan Top TenEngaging with histories of the book and of reading, as well as with studies of material culture, The Elizabethan Top Ten explores ‘popularity’ in early modern English writings.

Is ‘popular’ best described as a theoretical or an empirical category in this period?

How can we account for the gap between modern canonicity and early modern print popularity?

How might we weight the evidence of popularity from citations, serial editions, print runs, reworkings, or extant copies?

Is something that sells a lot always popular, even where the readership for print is only a small proportion of the population, or does popular need to carry something of its etymological sense of the public, the people?

Four initial chapters sketch out the conceptual and evidential issues, while the second part of the book consists of ten short chapters-a ‘hit parade’- in which eminent scholars take a genre or a single exemplar – play, romance, sermon, or almanac, among other categories-as a means to articulate more general issues. Throughout, the aim is to unpack and interrogate assumptions about the popular, and to decentre canonical narratives about, for example, the sermons of Donne or Andrewes over Smith, or the plays of Shakespeare over Mucedorus.

Revisiting Elizabethan literary culture through the lenses of popularity, this collection allows us to view the subject from an unfamiliar angle-in which almanacs are more popular than sonnets and proclamations more numerous than plays, and in which authors familiar to us are displaced by names now often forgotten.

Below is an edited extract from Andy Kesson and Emma Smith’s introduction to the The Elizabethan Top Ten. You can read the full introduction on the Ashgate website.


After some months dominated by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The New York Times Book Review announced a change in policy for its famous book bestseller listings. Their new list of ‘trade paperback fiction … gives more emphasis to the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages’. The aim is clear: to exclude some – in fact, the very top – bestsellers from the bestseller list in order to make space for books whose value was signalled more by their presence in the paper’s review pages than by their sales figures alone. Six months later the paper attempted again to explain the rationale for its decision, but served to further confuse the distinction between ‘trade’ and its tautological formula of ‘mass-market’ bestsellers. In March 2008 Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement was in both charts, ranked 8th and 17th, respectively. ‘You may still wonder’, the paper wrote, ‘why we decided to separate the mass-market and trade best-seller lists. The reason is that mass-market books – no surprise – tend to sell in larger numbers than trade. A list based on the number of copies a paperback sells will usually be dominated by mass-market’.

One might expect that a list headed ‘bestsellers’ would indeed register those books that sold the highest number of copies, but here this is in conflict with a different measurement of value: trade books ‘are the novels that reading groups choose and college professors teach’. ‘Best-selling’ is here in an uneasy relationship with other, less quantifiable indices of value, or, to put it another way, the hyphenated term ‘best-selling’ is under some strain, as ‘best’ starts to serve less as an adjectival modifier to ‘selling’ and more its ideological opposite. Oscar Wilde’s aperçu in his ‘Lecture to Art Students’ seems relevant here: ‘popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts on bad art. Whatever is popular is wrong’.

This uncomfortable compromise between quantitative and qualitative indicators of value is not confined to newspaper bestsellers. Annual lists revealing which authors are most borrowed from UK public libraries, or the metrics by which Top Ten music charts are calculated have been subject to similar caveats and recalibrations, and indeed the BBC felt itself forced to censor its weekly chart show in the week of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in 2013. For various reasons, it seems that we want to elide quantitative and qualitative measures. True ‘bestsellers’ are just slightly regrettable, an attitude perhaps still bearing the residual anxiety of what J.W. Saunders influentially dubbed ‘the stigma of print’. Popularity is itself suspect. We want the best-seller list to be the same as that list authorized by reading groups and college professors, and when it isn’t, we tweak the arrangement to get a more satisfactory result. Saunders identified the stigma of print as a specifically Tudor problem. If methodological and ideological questions dog contemporary best-seller lists, where publication and sales data are relatively robust, they are multiplied when turning to the question of print popularity in the Elizabethan period.

This book attempts to raise, rather than elide, the practical and methodological challenges of defining print popularity, and, in particular, the interpretative difficulties for literary critics and cultural historians when our sense of what ought to have been a bestseller – because it is what college professors now teach – turns out not to have been. Our title, ‘The Elizabethan Top Ten’, is self-consciously anachronistic. We have not, for reasons discussed below, tried to tabulate a ‘Top Ten’ on print editions alone (although if we had, the Book of Common Prayer, discussed in Brian Cummings’s chapter, and Sternhold and Hopkins’s psalm translations, discussed in Beth Quitslund’s, would have been there). Rather, we have invited contributors to our Top Ten to either propose a particular popularity case study within a genre – sermons or plays, for instance – or survey a particular aspect of the print market, with an eye to how their focus might form a local contribution to broader issues about writing, publishing and consuming print in the early modern period.

We actively encourage disagreements about what has been left out. We’d be delighted, for instance, if someone angrily proposed another sermon in place of The Trumpet of the Soule: for all the recent revival in sermon studies in the past decade, no sustained ‘top ten’–type argument has broken out. We haven’t got a section on ballads, for instance, despite Adam Fox’s startling estimate that ‘three or four million broadside ballads were printed in the second half of the sixteenth century alone’.

We might have included something else on the range of ephemeral literature, including chapbooks, playbills and forms: Juliet Fleming uncovers early wallpaper as an unexpected representative of this wide and diverse category. We chose to take Shakespeare as our example of literary canonization because the stakes are so high for our own contemporary disciplinary practice: the case of John Lyly, whose 11 print works went through at least 46 editions in 60 years, might have given a different shape to the story.

Above all, our aim has been to stimulate debate, including disagreement. Our contributors seek to further a dialogue about notions of popularity and about the relative roles of quantitative and qualitative methodologies for judging and interrogating popularity in the past. This volume brings together book history and literary criticism not merely to nominate or enumerate bestsellers, nor even to problematize them, but rather to try to understand their hold on the market, and with that, the gap between our own literary assessments and those of the past we seek to understand.

For some critics, statistics suggest that in the Elizabethan period the vast majority of the people were illiterate, and popularity and print are therefore mutually exclusive. Tessa Watt sensibly suggests that ‘in a partially literate society, the most influential media were those which combined print with non-literate forms’, such as musical ballads, illustrated books and books for devotion. But we should still ask whether, in an era before mass literacy, any printed text could truly be described as ‘popular’. Joad Raymond’s intervention is helpful: ‘print culture can be described as “popular” not because it is the voice of the people, nor necessarily because it was widely read among the people or reflected their views, but because the people were understood to be involved in the publicity dynamic, the dynamic by which print came to play a part in public life and the political process’.

This book explores the ways print, in its content, appearance or placement, addresses itself to and is constructed by this sense of the public. Like the contributors to Raymond’s recent Oxford History of Popular Print Culture (2011), the writers in The Elizabethan Top Ten contribute to a reassessment of the role of print in studies of the popular.

Most classic accounts of popular culture disregard print, following Peter Burke’s monumental Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe, first published in 1978, and prefer the reconstruction of the non-commercial practices of a communal, oral folk culture over the commodified entertainment of a learned elite.

But the public for print needs to be seen as extending beyond those who actually bought it and into a more heterogeneous, increasingly print-aware culture. Estimates of the number of print ballads in circulation in the Elizabethan period reach into the millions; religious texts like the ABC and Catechism went into scores, perhaps hundreds of editions; almanacs were printed in the hundreds of thousands.

And although press run for particular print artefacts is not the only indicator of ‘popularity’, it does suggest which works were already, or anticipated to be, commercially successful and which had relatively widespread penetration. We can see that numbers here vary widely, but even at the upper end of the range they remain small, particularly when set against, for example, the capacities of the theatres or the expected crowd at a sermon; on the other hand, we do not know how many people might encounter any one copy of a book. In their contributions to the current volume, Helen Smith cites Gabriel Harvey’s habit of signing his books ‘et amicorum’ and Abigail Shinn discusses Harvey swapping books with Spenser. The study of popularity needs to incorporate a study of human networks and the reception and ongoing use of books, as well as their publication and distribution.

The current book engages with these issues in two sections, one on methodology and the other the Top Ten itself. The first four chapters sketch out the conceptual and evidential issues associated with popularity. Thus Alan Farmer and Zachary Lesser open our discussion by investigating and interrogating how the English Short Title Catalogue represents popularity within the early modern book trade. They provide new categories for a large-scale analysis of the print market, drawing together theoretical, evidentiary and bibliographic themes. Lucy Munro demonstrates how Elizabethan popularity was driven by books first printed before Elizabeth’s reign, so that age, paradoxically, offered new possibilities to a print market often criticized for its fixation on newness and novelty. Helen Smith abandons financial concerns entirely, advocating the early modern book as an object of friendship, conviviality and advice. In the final methodological essay, Neil Rhodes revisits Shakespeare’s writing career to show how ‘the best-selling English author of all time’ negotiated ambitions for exclusivity whilst responding to unanticipated levels of popularity amongst his readers. These four chapters offer sustained, different perspectives from which to rethink approaches to popularity.

The second section of the book is the Top Ten: ten short chapters presenting for the case of a particular genre as popular. Our contributors unpack and interrogate assumptions about the popular, decentre narratives about the canon and rediscover an early modern world which looks both oblique and new. We move from self-writing in almanacs to censored script behind wallpaper, international news to Spenser poems, domestic books to public sermons, psalm books to Munday’s serialized stories and from The Book of Common Prayer to polar bears at the Stuart court.

This Top Ten is not intended to be the final word on the most popular kinds of books available to early modern readers. Rather, we offer here a range of current thinking about early modern popularity, bringing together material textual criticism, the history of the book, conceptual frameworks, empirical data and evidence of reading practices, combining book history and literary studies in order to begin a new conversation about the nature of popularity. This is, above all, a book about people – people who produce, consume and love books and the content of books – and seeks to restore a sense of the vitality and radical implications of the Elizabethan ‘Pop-holy’ generation.


More information about The Elizabethan Top Ten

List of contributors to the book:

Andy Kesson; Emma Smith; Alan B. Farmer; Zachary Lesser; Lucy Munro; Helen Smith; Neil Rhodes; Adam Smyth; Brian Cummings; S.K. Barker; Abigail Shinn; Catherine Richardson; Juliet Fleming; Lori Anne Ferrell; Beth Quitslund; Louise Wilson; Peter Kirwan.