The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

More Henry VIII

I have a feeling we are all going to be sick of Henry VIII very soon (if not already) however I thought I would add to J's article about all things Henry because today in the Guardian popped up an article about David Starkey complaining that feminist historians have focused too much on Henry's wives to the detriment of the man himself. Obviously Starkey has his new book to promote on Henry VIII, and, as one of the comments following the article points out, Starkey has written his own book on the wives so has only added to the plethora of literature on the topic. I also thought it was rather disingenious of him after he has talked about Elizabeth of York being so important because she was Henry's mother, to then discredit women's role in history, albeit as history written by women (which is perhaps the difference?). I can only imagine that he is talking about the popular imagination of Henry VIII, as history is a wide and diverse enough discipline to offer a wide range of books relevant to Henry VIII and his life, not just the matter of his many marriages. And in that respect it is not just feminists who wish to portray this image of Henry, after all I cannot imagine that all the films and television programmes are written, produced and directed by women. It is not always the case either that Henry's wives are regarded as sympathetic characters nor are they presented as victims of Henry's tyranny and wilfulness, sometimes you can sense that the interpretation is that they were 'asking' to be treated as harshly as they were, hence the demonisation of Anne Boleyn. Anyway I just think it is interesting why certain characterisations endure over time and obviously the story of Henry and his six wives has enough fascination implicit within it to keep society (whoever that may be) interested enough to watch that (IMO) dreadful programme The Tudors.

5 comments:

J said...

*eyeroll*
God forbid we should consider histories alternative to, or parallel to the "great man" stories! And didn't Starkey himself do a series on telly about the wives?

Ceri said...

Yes and he wrote a massive book about it coz I have got it!!! Makes me want to bang my head on a desk

Ceri said...

I feel grubby today, like I fell into a carefully laid trap... the stirring up of controversy by an historian. Hmmm never been done before! I might write a paper on this 'The sexing up of history' which starts with the Roman historians who filled their chronicles with salacious details I will not repeat here otherwise we would have some VERY strange links made to the blog LOL!

Amy said...

At least Starkey is prepared to take the piss out of himself in the More4 advert.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZkAid9JIxw

Ceri said...

Yeah its all part his carefully crafted persona I am sure...