Saturday, 31 January 2015

Emerald - try out our new database!

We have a year long trial to the Emerald database running to December 2016.

Emerald contains over 100 journals on marketing, general management, human resources and other related areas dating back to 1989.

Click here to access it.





Subjects covered include:

  • Accounting, Finance & Economics 
  • Business, Management and Strategy 
  • Education
  • HR, Learning & Organization Studies
  • Health & Social Care
  • Information & Knowledge Management
  • Library Studies; Marketing
  • Operations, Logistics & Quality
  • Property Management & Built Environment
  • Public Policy & Environmental Management.


For a list of journal titles included, please click here.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Missed the Post?

Our handy feature for locating articles you may have missed or to find them quickly when you want to revist them

This time we have two items for you, which you might want to check out sooner rather than later, as they're up and coming and on the way, and they may well be relevant or of interest to you in your Library life. Here they are:

Finding Company Information
We're holding a workshop to show you the best way to go about finding information on companies and the resources that are available to help you with that. It's coming right up so don't leave it a moment longer.
Take me there now


Technology & Media Trends 2015
A Warc Webinar on how this area might develop over the coming year, looking into Apps and Emojis etc, and what it is that drives these trends. There's not long left so hurry there now.
To the Warc Webinar Item


Missed the Post?
If you've been away and missed items or you simply want a second look, here's the place to go.
Last Missed the Post feature


For Friday
Our regular Friday feature of Lighter Side is right below, so do come back when you've booked your workshop and webinar places, won't you?

Today's the Day

Anniversaries & Events in Academia & Elsewhere

January 30

For some obscure reason, this day down the years has turned out to be one on which events seem to turn spectacularly sour for most of those concerned but, as it goes, the day got off to a fairly promising start in 1592 when Ippolito Aldobrandini was elected Pope Number 231, for which task he took the papal name of Clement VIII. Though matters soon took a turn for the worse when his moniker proved to be the only thing even vaguely clement (mild, merciful, compassionate) about him, seeing he was one of those blokes you really wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Barely had he even warmed the papal throne before the air was thick with the aroma of human flesh crisping at the stake. It’s to be hoped he told a good knock-knock joke because otherwise this is a Pope with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever.

Take the notorious case of the murder of Francesco Cenci who, hard though it is to believe, was an even nastier piece of work than Clement himself. He’d already been to jail for his various and violent crimes but, being a “nobleman”, was let out early (paid a hefty bribe), at which he thought he would vent his sadistic spleen on his wife and sons, and even contemplated incest with his daughter Beatrice at one point, which is when she decided enough was enough and snitched to the authorities. Despite the fact that all Rome knew what a despicable character Francesco was (you can find accounts that claim he wasn’t nearly as bad as he was painted, but let’s stick to the legend, shall we?), nothing was done about it. Apart from when Francesco got to hear about the betrayal and promptly banished Beatrice and wife Lucrezia to a remote fortress fastness perched high in the mountains, turning up now and again himself in order to carry on with the getting his own back. Someone should have warned him that you can push people too far, because they drugged him with opium, smashed his head in and then hurled him down the cliff face to make it look like an accident, only the whole family got rumbled and most of them, Beatrice included, were sentenced to death. There was a mighty clamour of appeals for leniency on Clement’s part but he remained adamant and had them executed, after a bit of judicial torturing first, of course. That’s the sort of chap he was. Naturally, there are those who claim that Clement was somehow implicated in the plot and had even ordered the murder himself but, seeing he refrained from keeping the confiscated Cenci property for himself (no, indeed, he gave it away - to members of his own family), that hardly seems likely, does it?

Clement was particularly severe on any who took even a slightly different viewpoint to his own but was generally able to get his point across, usually by having them burnt alive to show them the error of their ways, these including Giordano Bruno and Menocchio, both of whom had had the temerity to suggest that perhaps the earth wasn’t the centre of the universe after all. Bruno was a firm believer in free will while Clement was not, the Pope proving his rival’s assertion to be bunkum by sending him to the stake on his own say so alone; whilst Menocchio claimed that “the Pope had no power given to him from God,” though, given Clement’s track record, he really should have seen how that one was going to end. One thing which he is supposed to have liked, by all accounts, is coffee. The story goes that his advisors came to him complaining that the said beverage was the “bitter invention of Satan” – which had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Muslims were keen as kippers over it – only it turns out that Clement thinks it’s a drop of all right and declares that, “This devil's drink is so delicious...we should cheat the devil by baptizing it.” Imagine what he must’ve been like in the mornings before he’d had his first cup …

January 30 was not Charles I’s most favourite day. The one in 1648 wasn’t too bad, given the circumstances, but those either side were what you might call real rotters. Following a right royal hammering at Naseby on 14 June 1645, things went from bad to worse for the King, ending up with the Siege of Oxford, from which Charles escaped dressed as a servant. With the dastardly Parliamentarians in hot pursuit of him, he then thought the best thing all round would be to launch his own version of a Better Together campaign with the Scots – forgetting entirely that is was his attempt to foist the Book of Common Prayer onto them (which resulted in rioting and in Charles having to leg it south to call a Parliament to grant him funds to put down these Caledonian rebels) that had kick-started events leading to the Civil War – making them all kinds of promises he had no intention of keeping and which he would instantly retract, once he’d got what he wanted (what the Coalition would probably describe as a sound policy initiative). But, instead of meekly voting Yes, the Scots simply wanted the back-pay they were owed, tucked it away in the old sporran and, on 30 January, handed the monarch over to the English.

Charles, now in the hands of the Parliamentarians (Puritan zealots not known for their forgiving nature or for having any sense of fun whatsoever – they banned Christmas in 1647 and replaced it with a day of fasting, remember), realised he was in something of a ticklish situation and that his best bet would be to escape. Which he did. On 11 November 1647, possibly even thinking he’d be home in good time for his Christmas Dinner but, with about as much vision as a mole in dark glasses, instead of hightailing it for the Continent and safety, he headed to the Isle of Wight, having been informed he would be amongst sympathisers there, only to find himself under lock and key once more. Tsk! You just can’t trust some people, can you Charles? Entirely undismayed, he now started negotiations with both sides, telling the Scots he’d be well up for introducing Presbyterianism, if only they’d invade and get him his throne back, whilst at the same time talking religious toleration and political compromise with the English, keeping his fingers firmly crossed throughout and maintaining all the steadfastness of a modern parliamentarian by meaning not one word of any of his hollow promises. Unfortunately, however, back in those days most people could recognise a weasel when they saw one and simply lost patience with his evident slipperiness. Worse still, Cromwell had by now realised that being a viciously sadistic bullyboy was the only way to get things done around here and that folks would be a lot better off all round if Charles’ head was separated from his body. Naturally enough, in the interests of fair play, they had a trial first before they found him guilty and condemned him to the axe but, even so, on 30 January 1649, plain Charles Stuart stepped through a window in Whitehall to be sent from “a corruptible world into an incorruptible one” with a single swipe.

Next up for a bad day of it on January 30, fittingly enough, is Oliver Cromwell himself, Regicide-in-Chief and England’s Most Revered Thug who, as someone with something of a penchant for dates coincidental, would no doubt be smiling sardonically – had he not been such a po-faced joyless miserygut – at the sweet irony of what occurred this day in 1661. His Special Day was September 3, which he considered something of a well-starred one, as far as he was concerned. Firstly, he used it to launch the Siege of Drogheda (Ireland), which ended with the surrender of two hundred men, who had holed up in a fort, when they were told their lives would be spared. Cromwell proved as good as his word, for a whole hour anyway, then had them taken to a nearby windmill and killed, one of them, Arthur Aston, reportedly being beaten to death with his own wooden leg. Another hundred or so Royalists were in St Peter's Church, so Cromwell had it fired, thirty burning to death and fifty more getting slaughtered as they fled. The number of civilians butchered by the “Protector” depends very much on who you believe, varying from seven or eight hundred (Parliament, never reliable counters historically), to two to three thousand (Royalists), up to four thousand (Irish clericals). Whatever the final tally, it does show the kind of effort you’ve got to put in if you want your statue to stand outside Parliament inspiring our politicians.


 Then there was the Battle of Dunbar on 3 September 1650 (a slaughtering of thousands of Scots this time and, as Cromwell put it, “one of the most signal mercies God hath done for England and His people”), followed by the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, the last of the (technically Second) English Civil War. But nobody can have things all their own way and, on Friday 3 September 1658, Cromwell died, probably of septicaemia brought on by a urinary infection caused by a gallstone (how very apposite: killed by his own bile) and, from thereon in, things never got any better.


In 1660, newly-proclaimed King Charles II decided that the decent thing to do would be to teach Cromwell and his erstwhile buddies, Henry Ireton, Robert Blake and John Bradshaw, a lesson they wouldn’t forget, so he had them shovelled up from their graves and ritually executed, by hanging them and then sticking their heads onto spikes (it worked: none of them erred again). Cromwell’s was put on a long pole above Westminster Hall and there it remained until 1685 or so when, during a storm, the pole broke and it fell into the street, where some guard spotted it and thought, “I’m having that” (as you would), though quite what you do with a well-rotted regicide’s head when you get one is rather less obvious (he stashed his up the chimney, which must have put the willys up Santa and no mistake). The trouble with Cromwell, of course, is he was every bit as fickle in death as he was in life, so nobody can be certain it was his body that was dug up in the first place, rumour having it that his loyal followers rather suspected that the Royalists were pretty likely to get up to something unseemly along these lines the moment they’d dusted off the crown (Charles II wasn’t called the Merry Monarch for nothing) so Cromwell’s mates did a furtive bit of grave-swapping in advance, just in case. The Lord Protector himself, not a man especially noted for his sense of humour, had been known to dabble in much the same sport, using deceased monarchs in his macabre game of musical coffins (except he didn’t approve of music) so, who knows, maybe he got the last laugh after all and it was a right royal relative that Charles ended up thrusting the spike into?

Just to prove this wasn’t an all-round washout of a day for all concerned, and to bring us as near as we’ll get to academia this time round, we now come to 1894 and Charles Brady King. He was something of a boffin and inventor who, in March 1896, would go on to become the first man to design, build and drive a self-propelled automobile – those of you who fondly believed that it was Henry Ford, you’re three months behind the times, so do try and keep up. He was the first to sell one too, so that’s Ford well and truly stuffed into the proverbial cocked hat (which he probably deserved, seeing he’d develop into a fiercely anti-Semitic mate of the Nazis, who awarded him the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938). It was probably whilst pondering the vast wide endlessly straight highways of America (he was from Detroit) that King first conceived the glimmerings of the idea for his breakthrough invention, but then he must have thought to himself, hold on there one doggone minute buster, we’re putting the horse before the horseless carriage here – how can we get to the motor car before anyone’s solved the problem of where all the roadworks are going to come from to blight their every journeying? Not long later, he had come up with the pneumatic drill, which he filed a patent for this day in 1894. Strictly speaking, seeing he’s American, we should refer to it as a “jackhammer,” though that tends to suggest one of those little warbling birds you could imagine pecking happily at your goldtops, whereas this is machine combining hammer with chisel into a veritable instrument of torture that will leap into action the very second the thought crosses your mind to read or sleep or study or spend any kind of quiet moment lost in contemplation, instantaneously achieving an earsplitting and cacophonous hundred decibels or so (rather like MPs’ expenses, then: an intolerable and outrageous racket). But, as we’d say up North, “That’s nowt!”In 1972, Deep Purple played at one hundred and seventeen decibels, rendering three of the audience unconscious and then, in 1986, Motorhead hit one hundred and thirty decibels of volume, damaging the building while they were at it. No doubt an enraged man in hardhat and hi-vis vest then stomped into the hall and asked them to turn it down – a chap can’t hear himself drill out there.

This day 1908 started well enough for Gandhi when he was freed from a two month sentence early, having reached a compromise with South African leader Jan Smuts, though it tailed off rather when he got browbeaten by his own people for colluding with a reprehensible snake like Smuts. And he went off the day altogether in 1948 when he was assassinated on it by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist, who shot him three times in the chest at point blank range. It was the fifth attempt on his life, most of them bungled, most of ‘em by Godse, who even conspired to botch the getaway here by shouting for the police himself. Another to meet a sticky end this day was Henri Désiré Landru, though seeing he butchered eleven victims Bluebeard style, it’s hard to see what the Désiré part is actually meant to convey. He disposed of the bodies so well that no trace big enough could be found to prosecute him over, the one small flaw in his otherwise unimpeachable plan was that he wrote all the details down in a ledger so, when they found that, they had him bang to rights, sentencing him to death this day in 1921. That certainly impeached him, good and proper, when Madame Guillotine came hurtling rapidly in his direction on 25 February 1922.

Now, if you happen to think that Nathuram Godse takes the biscuit for colossal blundering, we can hardly leave you without a mention for 30 January’s All Time Ineffably Incompetent Blunderer, none other than our own Richard Colvin Reid, though you probably know him better as the Shoe Bomber. Which is odd really, seeing he didn’t actually manage to bomb anything, his only achievement amounting to nothing more than being in a possession of a shoe, and we’ve all of us been guilty of that at one time or another. Reid was a career petty criminal son of a career petty criminal, neither of them in the least gifted at their chosen profession and consequently spending many a breakfast time over the porridge bowl. As ever, the question has to be: how is someone as patently inept as this radicalized to become an extremist fanatic. The answer, in this case, is simple: his dad told him, “Tell them you’re Muslim and they’ll give you better grub inside.” It occurred to young Richard that perhaps growing a shaggy beard wasn’t going to be convincing enough on its own so, in December 2001, after months of meticulous planning, he turned up in spectacularly, not to mention eye-catchingly, unkempt appearance to board an American Airlines flight to Miami (perhaps the plan was to visit Disney World afterwards?), cementing his inscrutable disguise by arriving with no luggage whatsoever but wearing a bizarre-looking pair of trainers with soles so big you could store something in them. Then came time to light the fuse. Alas! He’d chosen a rather rainy day for it and the flight had been delayed, so he was nicely damp by the time they took off which, combined with the fact of his heavily perspiring feet (he’d chosen trainers, remember) meant that the whole thing was quite literally a damp squib. His fellow passengers overpowered him and secured him with a set of plastic handcuffs (quite what they were doing in someone’s hand-luggage, we’d best draw a veil over), so that this day in 2003 he was given a life sentence. Well, with almost the same absurdity as hanging a dead Cromwell, it was actually three life terms plus one hundred and ten years “without parole.” Seems an awfully harsh penalty for having sweaty feet …


Images:
Clement VIII: By Unknown contemporary author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Beatrice Cenci: Formerly attributed to Guido Reni [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Burnt at the Stake: Grigoriy Myasoyedov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Before Edgehill: By Charles Landseer (1799 - 1879) (British) (Details of artist on Google Art Project) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cromwell with Charles: Paul Delaroche [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Drogheda Massacre: Henry Doyle (1822-1892) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cromwell Warts & All: By Samuel Cooper (died 1672) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Cromwell’s Head: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Charles Brady King: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gandhi: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Shoe Bomber: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Finding Company Information - workshop

Do you need to find information about companies? Our Saturday workshop this week, on Finding Company Information, can help you.

This workshop will help you to find background information on companies using Library databases and free resources at other libraries. Useful if you are studying business, management or marketing, and also if you need to research companies for your job search.

The details: 31st January 2015, 11.30am - 1pm, held in the Library Seminar Room.

Book your place here http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/global/workshop_timetable?orgunit=LIB

Friday, 23 January 2015

Giants of Academia & the Arts

… but, then again, nobody is perfect



Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

Go on, say it, then: “That’s that Faust bloke, isn’t it?” In actual fact, his renowned dramatic masterpiece (not to mention buttock-stiffening theatrical test of endurance – a 2000 performance of the complete work took twenty one hours to get through) wasn’t published until after his death, so at least he didn’t have to put up with comments like that while he was still alive, which is perhaps just as well, given that he produced a staggeringly enormous body of work, including poetry, prose, dramas, four novels, literary and aesthetic criticism, over ten thousand letters and three thousand drawings, plus a whole bunch of other stuff besides. The amazing part about it being that he ever found the time to get round to it all, seeing he considered himself something of a babe magnet (whatever that might be) and was forever at being drippy and soppy around some frau or other, usually exactly the wrong one or, worse, somebody else’s. Still, at least it provided him with plenty of inspiration for his Romanticist works later on.

Johann was born in Frankfurt, the eldest son of well-heeled parents, who had a further six children, but the only survivor being his sister, Cornelia, and, even with her, Goethe managed to have an intense and somewhat iffy relationship, as he himself was only too well aware. The dad, not content with naming his son after himself (he was Johann Casper), also saddled him with Wolfgang, which means “wolf path” and, according to Teutonic mythology, is the name signifying a hero in front of whom walks the “wolf of victory.” So, right from the start, he was clearly bent on the idea of his eldest lad fulfilling all of the ambitions that he himself had been so frustrated in. Having studied law in Leipzig and Strasbourg and then going on a Grand Tour, Johann Casper came back to Frankfurt to be appointed an Imperial Councillor (but given nothing to do), to settle down to live a life of leisure on his inherited fortune and to find himself a wife. If you’re not given power, why not marry your way in, which seems to have been Johann Casper’s thinking when, at thirty eight, he picked out seventeen year old Catharina Elisabeth Textor to be Mrs Goethe, who also happened to be the daughter of Frankfurt’s leading official. Thus, without actually achieving anything, he had completed his lifeplan and it was this blueprint – study law, get an impressive position, go on Tour then get married – that he had in mind for young Johann.

Thanks to a spot of bother at school (as always), Goethe was educated at home, learning Latin, Greek, French, Italian, English and Hebrew, plus a bit of dancing, riding and fencing, though his real passions were for literature, drawing and the theatre, making him already something of an all-round Smarty Pants. Talking of which, if the lad himself is to be believed, it was around the age of fifteen when he put his first notch on the post of falling in love, with an innkeeper’s daughter called Gretchen, by all accounts. Mind you, there never was any corroborating evidence to support this and the only we account we do have is that of young Johann himself, a fellow who went on to forge a spectacular career out of making stories up, so we’ll put it down to mere adolescent braggadocio. In other words, Johnny boy, we ain’t going to count that one: it’s still Goethe Nil.

By the time Johann hit sixteen in 1765, it was time to put Phase One of old man Goethe’s plan into action, so it was off to Leipzig University for him, to study law, where he soon discovered that he didn’t much care for the rote learning of it, preferring instead to attend drawing and poetry classes. And it also didn’t take him long to finally get off the mark in the old falling head-over-heels routine, this time with Anna Katharina “Kitty” Schönkopf, another innkeeper’s daughter and hinting, we suspect, at a second passion besides love. Alas, however, Kitty decided that marrying a would-be burgomaster was a more dependable choice, so she threw him over. The ditched Goethe got his own back by writing not one but two plays to vent his spleen, Lovers’ Quarrels and Fellow Sinners, the latter featuring an innkeeper’s daughter who makes a disastrous marriage, funnily enough. All of which rather proves the old maxim, “Don’t get even, lads, write a couple of plays to show ‘em how not bothered we are.” Goethe had really got stuck into the writing business with some gusto by now and had penned a number of “moral-sensuous” songs, as he called them, though they tended to go very sparingly on the moral part and trowel it on thick when it came to the more erotic bits. “Downright mucky,” we’d call it down our way. But that’s Goethe for you.


Nonetheless, young Johann got into a bit of a state about it all and fell ill, possibly tuberculosis, so in September 1768 he was forced back to Frankfurt without his degree, where he flirted briefly with evangelical Christianity, though not enough to prevent him from studying alchemy seriously, which is when the idea of a Faust play may first have seeded itself in his mind. Despite all this, he still felt the need to keep his eye in with the ladies, so he formed an attachment to Charitas Meixner, a friend of his sister, but she soon found “metal more attractive” and dumped him, once again in order to marry a rich burgher, after which Goethe professed to finding the Frankfurt girls too “stiff and unSaxon.”

So, in 1770, it was off to Strasbourg, ostensibly to finish his law studies, but he didn’t hang about before getting a thing going with a local young lovely named Friederike Brion, a vicar’s daughter and thus some way below Goethe’s own station. Even so, the couple became practically inseparable and she would later go on to take roles in several of his works, including Gretchen in Faust itself, but there was no way she was ever going to become Mrs Goethe, seeing her lover had notoriously tepid feet when it came to the old marital ball and chain (besides which, his old man’s plan clearly stipulated degree, important position and Grand Tour of Italy, and only then, once that lot had been completed, might he contemplate wedding bells – clearly then, he was in no hurry to renounce pleasure via a swift walk up the aisle, seeing it took him eleven years to even get to Italy). Ten months in, he legged it back to Frankfurt, from where he sent a letter to Friederike telling her that all was over between them, which broke the poor girl’s heart (she remained unmarried all her life) and dismayed his friends that he could act so roguishly, including Herder, whom he had met there and who was to be a huge influence on his intellectual development. Had there been a Sun back in those days, no doubt the headline would have been: Love Rat Goethe Does Dirty Again. Except that nobody had the faintest idea who he was at that stage. Though they soon would.

In Frankfurt, he finally got his degree, (though more of a comeuppance, seeing it wasn’t a doctorate) and started to practice. According to the saying (and sayings are a field in which Goethe would himself excel), “practice makes perfect” but, alas, not in this case: he was rubbish at it, kept losing cases and had to pack it in. Though it didn’t stop him picking up a nice little earner doing law in Wetzlar for four months, at the Supreme Courts of the Holy Roman Empire where, as with all corridors of power, a complete lack of ability was entirely irrelevant. Goethe, however, found more congenial society at the local inn (didn’t we say as much earlier?), where he took to calling himself Götz von Berlichingen, a name he took from some sort of sixteenth century robber-baron-cum-highwayman whose biography he’d got hold of. Plagued by conscience over his dastardliness towards Friederike and desperate to appease Herder (who had earlier turned him on to the Bard), he thought, I know, I’ll turn this story into a Shakespearian tragedy, which is just what he did, banging it out in under six weeks. Instant hit! Goethe was off and running. Though the name itself became a famous (and vulgar) euphemism known as the Swabian Salute, which delicacy forbids us to repeat here, other than in the original German: er kann mich im Arsche lecken.

 
Never stop when you’re on a roll and our Johann wasn’t about to. The next year, 1774, he fused two elements of his Wetzlar experiences together to produce The Sorrows of Young Werther, an epistolatory novel featuring a hero (the prototype Romantic Hero, in fact) who goes about in blue coat and yellow breeches, has a hard time of it and then commits suicide, all because of some woman, Lotte, who lets him kiss her once and it all proves too much. Surprised he got that far, given the saffron strides. Goethe really laboured over this one, which took him a good two months to pen, but it at least got it all out of his system: needless to say, he’d fallen in love again, though without any danger of an appointment with the vicar (but plenty of frustration), seeing Charlotte Buff, for it was she, was already engaged to his mate, Johann Kestner. Goethe spent an emotionally tormenting summer hanging round with the happy couple and then heard of the suicide of another friend, Karl Wilhelm Jerusalem, so he thought why not bung them together and see what we can come up with. The result was the world’s first best seller, though it didn’t make him much cash, so he had to settle for global fame, though the themes, especially the suicide bit, raised the hackles of the disgruntled harrumphers, not least of which was the Church, who refused to bury suicides but weren’t above confiscating their property. Not that Goethe cared a fig for all that: he was made. In fact, this remained the work he was best known for during his own lifetime so, unlike us, his contemporaries would’ve heard the name and then remarked, “That’s the Werther fellow, isn’t it?” They may even have tried to lure him into a cunning trap by claiming that much of Werther was actually plagiarised, in the hope that he would respond, “Nein, mein Herr, Werther’s Original” …






Which is basically how Goethe became famous and soon had the fans flocking round, including the Prince of Weimar, Duke Karl Augustus, who met him in December that year. Meanwhile, our man had been up to his old tricks once more and, despite his marked reluctance, he had somehow got himself engaged, to Anne Elisabeth “Lili” Schönemann, a banker’s daughter and eminently suitable in the brides’ stakes, though as soon as some admiring people that he’d never met before turned up, he did another runner and went off with them. Dressed in the blue jacket and yellow trousers of Werther, it seems, no doubt hoping to get kissed, knowing him. Karl Augustus had invited him to Weimar so, when he got back, rather than marry Lil, he decided he’d do that instead, if only to keep himself out of Italy and the terrible fate that awaited him afterwards, according to his old man’s Grand Plan.

 
So it’s off to Weimar to be the mate of the Duke, and he would spend pretty much the rest of his life there. Though, to start off with, he wasn’t given very much to do at all, apart from amble round the place keeping Charlie company and sometimes being allowed to read aloud his texts to a select group, though he was pretty miffed to discover that there was a dog-trainer on the same bill. Soon, however, he found himself on the Privy Council and even entertained notions of egalitarian reforms, so long as the peasants still kept on doing all the work while the nobs ate all the pie. It was the finances of the state that were the problem, having no industry and no natural resources, apart from one clapped-out silver mine, so they then asked him to get that going again, a task that would take him twenty years, during which he became a bit of a Know-All about mining and geology too – when he died, he had Europe’s largest collection of rock samples, some 17,800 of ‘em. Though the mine itself was always a deadloss. He would eventually become Chancellor and then virtual Prime Minister, so it was only right he should be ennobled, which is indicated by the “von” they then bunged into his name in 1782.

From here on in, we’re going to have to do something of a Goethe ourselves and be nippy on our feet, in order to pack a vast amount into the time we have remaining. Besides which, by now he was both noble and famous, and his achievements have been well documented, though there remain some parts that could stand a breath of fresh air so, if you’re ready, seatbelts on and here we go …

1776 and next on the Goethe hit list is Charlotte von Stein, an older (thirty three, Johann!) married mother of seven, with whom he had a dalliance of some ten years, though it was all quite platonic and innocent, what you might call a “practice match” for him, though the intimate bond between them would be the eventual reason for the commitment-shy (and possibly husband-wary) dramatist’s suddenly doing yet another runner, this time to Italy itself, which goes to show how jittery he’d become. Before that, however, he had been released from his more mundane courtly duties and had finally got back to a spot of penmanship, though mostly for the entertainment of the Duke and his chums.

Meanwhile, he’d become more interested in the sciencey stuff, like botany and geology (as we’ve seen), not to mention anatomy, though we will, seeing he independently discovered the existence of the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, proving that Man was related to the animals, which would lead Darwin to think that maybe this Evolution thing was worth taking a closer look into after all. Despite this, he had a deuce of a job getting anyone to take him seriously as a scientist, so perhaps he hadn’t yet ditched the yellow trousering? 1786 and at last he landed in Italy for his Grand Tour (though he had no intention of “hanging up his boots” just yet – au contraire!) Here he would meet Lady Hamilton (no, nothing happened) and find Renaissance art not his cup of tea, though he did gather material enough for another work, Italian Journey, which then made it the done thing for young men to wander round Italy in looking fashionably wasted. He also found time to become “particularly friendly” with a painter, Angelica Kauffmann, and to finally “relinquish his ha’penny” to some young widow in a protracted liaison (he got a play out of that too: Iphigenia in Tauris). His return to Weimar in June 1788 was said to be “extremely reluctant.” Wonder why that was, then?

So he’s back in Weimar and, as luck would have it, along comes consolation in the form of a “comely damsel, with golden curling locks, rosy cheeks, laughing eyes and a neatly rounded figure,” Christiane Vulpius. “Yum, yum,” thinks Goethe (or whatever the German is for that) and promptly spirits her away to his love nest, where they live in a kind of quasi-marriage (our man being as allergic to altar rails as ever), much to the shock and chagrin of the po-faced court. On Christmas Day 1789, she presented him with the gift of a son, Walther. Meanwhile, the nose of Frau von Stein had been very much put out of kilter by the whole thing but, when he wrote more of his saucy verses about Christiane, which would appear under the rather plain covers title of the Roman Elegies, this only confirmed the miffed Frau’s opinion that her rival was a harlot.




Soon after his return, he published his plant book (he even found time to garden), the Metamorphosis of Plants and he followed that up with another boffinlike number, the Theory of Colour, which came about because he thought Newton had got hold of completely the wrong end of the stick on this one, putting too much analysis into it and not enough romance. Strictly, it’s more your Theory of Vision but it did hit the mark with Turner, Kandinsky and Mondrian, and they did alright for themselves out of it. Back with the day job, in 1791 he was made Theatre Director and, being something of a Mozart fan, it would seem (Mozart was also a Freemason, like Goethe), he put on the Magic Flute some eighty nine times. He even spent years trying to come up with some lyrics for a follow up album, the Magic Harp (he was mighty keen on sequels), but that seems to’ve sunk without trace.


After 1793, however, it was back fulltime to the old literature for our man and the following year he gets a letter from Friedrich Schiller saying shall we be real mates now, instead of just penpals and, as we all know, they went on to become one of the great double-acts in the history of German Romanticist dramatics. They’re even buried and statued together. This was a most fortunate turn-up for Goethe seeing that when he was suffering from a touch of the old writer’s block, or simply busy with “other things” (being Goethe), he could simply bung on one of Schiller’s and keep the Court Theatre going that way. Then, in 1797, he once again took up Faust, working on it for the next five years and the rest really is history …

Well, apart from a regrettable incident on 13 October 1806, when the marauding troops of Napoleon’s army sacked most of Weimar and even burst into the Goethe place, where our man’s dogged resistance amounts to hiding under the bedcovers trembling and hoping they’d go away, while Christiane gave them a taste of their own medicine and sent them off with “ein Floh im Ohr.” Undaunted, and entirely shamelessly, von Goethe would later write: “Fires, rapine, a frightful night... Preservation of the house through steadfastness and luck.” He failed to mention who was steadfast and who lucky. He did then do the decent thing and finally marry her for it – the very next day, in fact - but was quickly back to his old self once more when he fell briefly and passionately in love with “an unremarkable” young lady, Wilhelmine Herzlieb, extricating himself from the entanglement only with considerable pain. He never did learn, did he?


 In 1816, the trouble and strife did the decent thing and let him off the hook by dying and, by 1823, it was a return to form with Ulrike von Levetzow (she was nineteen, he was in his seventies, for goodness sake), going so far as to want marriage with her, only her mum was having none of it, Germany’s all-time leading man of letters or no, though once again he did manage to turn it into words: the famous Marienbad Elegy, which he considered one of his finest works. Oh, and at the same time, he also managed to squeeze in a thing for the Polish pianist Maria Agata Szymanowska.


Then, in 1832, he died. No flippin’ wonder, after all that. He just had time to finish off his latest little number, yet another sequel and the follow up to the smash hit, Faust Part One, disappointingly called Faust Part Two (what’s wrong with Faust II: Return of the Soulsnatcher?), which he sealed in an envelope and was about done. His last words, according to his doctor, Carl Vogel, were, “More light!” but, seeing the good doctor wasn’t even in the room at the time, this is open to question.

On the subject of neat epigrams, let’s leave our hero the last word here, and these really are ones he coined. They’re not half bad either. How about:

“Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him.”

Or

“Divide and rule, a sound motto; unite and lead, a better one.”

Or even

“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”

And finally

“Das also war des Pudels Kern” (“the core of the poodle”, but you’ll need to see Faust to get that one)

If some of you out there do happen to be thinking of emulating Goethe in any way, well, all we can say is you’d have to be bonkers …









Images:
Romantic: Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Goethe Family: Johann Conrad Seekatz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Anna Katharina “Kitty” Schönkopf : [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Charitas Meixner: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Friederike Brion at Home: Photogravure from the painting by Brockmann. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Götz von Berlichingen: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Anne Elisabeth Schönemann: By Starke in WeimarJlorenz1 at de.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Goethe & the Duke: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Charlotte von Stein: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Iphigenia in Tauris: (with Goethe as Orestes in the centre; Drawing by Angelica Kauffman) Angelica Kauffman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Christiane Vulpius : By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Mozart: Barbara Krafft [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Friedrich Schiller: Ludovike Simanowiz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Ulrike von Levetzow: By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Still places left on "Getting to grips with your reading list" workshop

There are still places left on our workshop on "Getting to grips with your reading list" this Saturday (24th) at 2pm. 

Understand what you are being asked to read (book, book chapter, journal article, etc) and learn how to find them in the Library and eLibrary.

Book your place at the link below:
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/global/workshop_timetable?orgunit=LIB

Saturday, 17 January 2015

How will technology & media change in the next year? - find out with this free WARC webinar

Want to find out about predicted Tech and Media Trends in 2015?
Register for a free webinar with Warc: Tech and Media Trends in 2015

Watch Dan Calladine (Aegis Media) present key findings from his annual predictions into how the worlds of technology and media will change in the year ahead. Register now to learn about: 
  • Five key trends, including App Simplification & Integration; Video Ads; Connected TV; 'Voice' and Symbols & Emojis.
  • What is driving these trends 
  • Real-life examples
  • The implications for brands
Date: Tuesday 27th January
Time: 2pm GMT

Not able to tune into the live webinar? Not to worry - all registrants will receive a link to the recording of the webinar so be sure to register even if you are unavailable to watch the live session:

Register to join this complimentary webinar or to receive a recording.

The WARC.com database contains over 25,000 articles, case studies, in-depth trend analysis, marketing strategy, marketing campaign videos and research reports. It covers all areas of marketing, advertising and media communications and you can access it here: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/lib/elib/databases/social/warc

Friday, 16 January 2015

Word to the Wise

Neglected gems of the language for taking down the pub and introducing to your mates. With a True Tale by way of illustration.

Contumacious

Kon-tyoo-mey-shuss: Adjective: stubbornly perverse or rebellious; wilfully and obstinately disobedient, especially to authority.

From Latin: contumax, insolent, unyielding, stubborn; from con, with, plus tumere, to swell up.


When it comes to related words, it must say something about our attitude towards authority that we need quite so many variations in order to cover any and every possible situation in which one of us will thumb the nose in the general direction of the high and mighty in their corridors of power. They include: contumaciously, adverb; contumaciousness, noun; contumely, noun (an insulting display of contempt in words or actions, much like a LibDem election pledge); contumelious, adjective; contumeliously, adverb; contumeliousness, noun; and contumacity, noun; plus a whole host of negatives, such as noncontumaciously, though it’s a mystery why (or even when) you’d use that when we’ve got such sumptuous words as subservient, obsequious and obeisant, even bootlicking at a push, that would make a much better job of it for occasions when we’re tugging at the old forelock.


Contumacy is a legal term for the wilful refusal of a person to appear before a court or to comply with a court order: lovely little word but a tad ticklish for the judge to slide impressively into his concluding remarks if the defendant hasn’t actually bothered to turn up. When Charles I was put on trial on 20 January 1649, he claimed that the court had no jurisdiction to try him, which is blatant contumacy in anyone’s book and something he exhibited most wantonly by refusing to take his hat off, the blackguard. In fact, it seems like he was bent on outright contumeliousness from the very beginning: as soon as Solicitor General John Cook rose to announce the indictment, standing right next to the King, as it happens, he hadn’t got more than a couple of words in when Charles tapped him, with some vigour by all accounts, on the shoulder with his stick, ordering him to “Hold.” Needless to say, Cook wasn’t having any of that sort of carry-on and went right on speaking, so the monarch gave him a second regal taste of the royal cane, Cook contumaciously ignoring it again, at which point the King lost it rather, striking the Solicitor General so forcefully across the shoulder with his stick that the ornate silver tip broke off and clattered to the floor. Charles was obliged to pick it up himself. On 27 January, having been excluded from hearing the evidence against him and also barred from questioning any of the witnesses, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. On Tuesday 30 of January, his head was severed from his body by a single blow, but then the next day they sewed it back on again, by which time it was rather too late, though it did show that the whole affair had been something of an all-round stitch-up. It was the first occasion on which had been used the term “High Court of Justice” …

Also from the same tumere root are: tumult, noun, an uproar; tumour, a swollen part or protuberance, a neoplasm, and also (though archaic) inflated pride or haughtiness, pompous language or bombast; tumescent, adjective, to become swollen; and, if you happen to be in the building trade, intumescent, as in intumescent mastic (no nonsense!), mastic itself being a putty-like substance used as a sealant or filler, the word coming from the Greek, mastikhe, which was a resin and their form of chewing gum (a bit hard to imagine Plato and Socrates chomping away like your average Premier League football manager, but there you go); and tumulus, noun, an ancient burial mound. Eventually the root gets right back to the Greek, tylos, a lump, but generally meaning fat or thick, from which we finally arrive at thigh, literally the thick part of the leg. The same applies to thumb, via Old English, thuma, this being the stout or thickest finger.



The common-or-garden thumb is a fascinating customer, seeing it started life ending with an M and then somewhere between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries – nobody’s quite sure when exactly – it had the extraneous B appended to the end of it, though there is no etymological reason whatsoever for this, unless it was simply to bring it more in line with limb, which always did end that way, limb originally meaning any protruding or even visible part of the body. For better or worse, the thumb has also managed to get itself inextricably entangled with several of our more commonly used and, you could say, well-thumbed, phrases. But we won’t, seeing that resorting to any of them is mere linguistic indolence, though we’ve all of us done it a time or two, that is for certain. There’s to be under the thumb for starters, by which we mean subject to the total control of another, with the added implication that this domination is easily maintained, seeing it wouldn’t require much struggle to get out from under the pressure of a single thumb, now would it? (Compare it with inculcate, which literally means to trample down with the heel: that’s Latin and your brutal Romans, of course). Under the thumb first turned up around the 1580s, so they must have been in dire need of such a term at the time and, indeed, Shakespeare penned Taming of the Shrew between 1590 and 1592.

Then there’s the appallingly blasé rule of thumb, meaning a principle with a broad slapdash application of the that’ll do, let’s not worry too much about accuracy or reliability just now sort, in which the person uttering the “as a rule of thumb” might just as well have said “in some cases, not always, sometimes hardly ever, but trust me on this one.” Where it came from nobody is exactly certain, though we can safely ignore those who insist it originates from some alleged and apocryphal law that allowed the head of the household (they mean us blokes) to apply “moderate correction” unto his wife with a stick, so long as said weapon was no thicker than his own thumb. A patently absurd notion altogether! For one thing, a cane of such weight and heft could inflict serious physical damage and you’d then end up having to do the washing up yourself and where would be the point in that? Others still blame its provenance on those eternal scapegoats, the Builders, carpenters in especial, who were wont to use the width of their thumb, supposedly an inch, instead of a ruler for measuring up jobs, which proved remarkably reliable, seeing much of what they built that way still stands today. Bizarrely, thumb and inch share the same word in many languages, including Dutch (duim), French (pouce), Italian (pollice), Spanish (pulgada), plus Portuguese, Swedish, Sanskrit, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and Thai.

Let’s not forget thumbing the nose while we’re at it, or cocking a snook or, for our American colleagues, the Five Fingered Salute, which may go back as far as 592(ish) BC, turning up in Ezekiel 8:17: “Behold, they put the branch to their nose.” Nothing more than putting the spread hand up to the nose and waggling the fingers, preferably with crossed eyes but, like most such gestures, only insulting if you know it’s intended to be insulting. Around about the same sort of time, as we all know, is when thumbs up and thumbs down started to emerge from the Roman amphitheatres as signals for whether a defeated gladiator should be spared or slain. This, it now seems, is more myth of the Wifebeater & the Inchthick Stick variety, as it is believed that the Romans’ signal either hid the thumb in the hand or extended it, the Thumbs Down (pollice verso in Latin) being popularised by the painting of 1872 by Jean-Léon Gérôme. Rather picturesquely, our Thumbs Up sign may possibly have evolved from the way the coachmen of old used to greet each other when they had their hands otherwise full of reins.


Turning vaguely back in the direction from where we first set out, tumid and its derivatives (tumidity, tumidness, tumidly) also share the tumere root and mean (of an organ or part) enlarged or swollen, bulging or protruberant; or (of prose) pompous or fulsome in style. Still, essentially, swelled up. Not content with a single term for it, Latin also has turgere, from which we get turgid, which means pretty much the same thing in both cases, organ or prose. Perhaps not so much now, but to the fusspot Romans there was a slight but critical difference between tumere and turgere: turgere denotes being swollen with fullness or corpulence (that is, filled with an actual something), whereas tumere refers to a concealed nothingness. Thus billowing sails could be accurately described as being both turgid (full of wind, something) and tumid (full of merely air and thus nothing). So also, for that matter, could any speech made recently by our beloved Prime Minister, for precisely the same reasons: turgid (full of wind) and tumid (concealing – not very well, granted – a vacuous nothingness), though one can’t help but have a sneaking admiration for the man: anyone who can stand up before a packed House of Commons in a Tintin hairdo and expect to be taken seriously can’t be all biscuit, now can they?
 
Talking of inept government policy and plutocratic oligarchy of a truly astounding inanity, that brings us nicely round to this time’s True Tale. You’ll probably be raising the Eyebrow of Incredulity when we reveal that this will combine and juxtapose our Word, contumacious, with the nefarious and tawdry world of the JobSeeker, but that’s what we’re going to attempt for you now. Any of you out there now who happen to have suffered this particular heinous and ritualised indignity (we sincerely pray there are none, then, now or ever) will be aware that there is no perceived lower form of life and that anyone you are obliged to come into contact with will know only too well that they’ve got a good firm handgrip on your tenderest parts and, being the kind of person to have taken that sort of job in the first place, they’re sure as heck going to squeeze until the tears roll down your cheeks. Should contumacity ever raise its ugly head above the parapet, then that will be your benefits stopped, matey, no questions asked. And no quarter given. Of course, JobSeekers is the rather passé term of way back when given to these itinerant ne’er-do-wells of the popular imagination, whereas in these days of Coalition enlightenment, if you’re at all de rigueur with an eye to the fash, the modern and more descriptive phrase is Benefits Scroungers so, if you’re happy to go with that, you use it instead.
 
At the end of twelve months of such an existence, the JobSeeker (we’re of the old school and somewhat archaic, we fear) miraculously transmogrifies into an entirely new creature, the Longterm Unemployed, at which point he actually counts in the figures for the out of work. Naturally enough, any government worth its salt (that’s our first oxymoron, which could’ve been our Word, seeing there’ll be more along shortly) deplores any such rise in the statistics, not for any humanitarian reasons so much as it tends to make them look like nothing but a bunch of incompetent charlatans when they’re actually a body of well-meaning men and women. Not quite so well-intentioned as they are well-watered, well-fed and well-paid perhaps, but you can’t have everything. The cry goes up that something must be done, and so it is. Nothing constructive or worthwhile like creating jobs and stimulating growth (not with this deficit “inherited from a previous administration” – why does that always sound exactly like “Mam, a big boy did it and ran away”?), of course, but a magical, almost mystical solution, and the simplest sleight of hand: they pack you off to an employment agency (oxymoron two, by no means last). By this simple expedient, from the moment you’re “with” them you’re no longer “signing on” anymore and no longer Longterm Unemployed and, hey presto, the out of work figures instantly drop by one. But it’s much more sophisticated than just that: assuming you do survive this excruciating and pointless ordeal, when you do emerge at the other end it will be a further twelve months before you ever grace the statistics again. All by having done nothing but send you to a shedlike building in Elephant & Castle
 
The agency concerned in our particular case study was Reed Employment (there is no G at the beginning of that, cynics please note) and along we trudge one ill-starred morning to be enrolled as a “member.” In quite what sense they are using the term is unclear, though a very short time is enough for one to suspect it is because they like to toy with you in their idle moments, with which they seem richly endowed. The sole purpose and objective of this outfit, it would appear to the layman, is to shovel you off at the highest velocity into the nearest job to hand, for which achievement they are rewarded with a big fat governmental cheque and a sibilant but unspoken sigh of One Less.


We members were all furnished with our very own personal Job Advisor (oxymoron three and, if we were going to rank them in order, a strong championship contender indeed). After all, if they’re such expert Job Advisors, how come they ended up in the one they’ve got? It may be disparaging to say that, when it boils down to it, what they were doing was no better than an entry-level administration post, but it’s a point necessary to make and to file away for later. In order to protect the guilty, we’ll refer to the Job Advisor in question as Maht, though you could probably have strategically shaved a gibbon and not noticed any real difference in effectiveness, and certainly have got more sense out of a jellied eel.

So there we are that morning, Maht leaning back in his comfy office chair and his member in front of him, across the desk on a much harder, less luxurious version altogether. He is casting a highly supercilious eye over the paperwork (sneering dismissiveness is one thing they are all highly trained in) and he has already taken umbrage into high dudgeon over the fact that the word “Member” on the front of the shiny folder provided has been contumeliously scrubbed out and replaced with the word “Victim.” Not an auspicious start. Then he looks up and across, inquisitorial, accusative
.
‘Why,’ he asks, pausing for dramatic effect, to unnerve, ‘have you put down such a high figure for the minimum salary you are willing to accept?’

The amount concerned was £17,000, enough to cover the rent etc and maybe have a button or two left over. He is clearly not impressed
.
‘Are you seriously trying to tell me,’ he asks, in what seems like genuine anguish, ‘that you wouldn’t take a job just because it wouldn’t pay your rent?’

There was no really adequate response to that one. He kindly suggests that half the (one bedroom) flat might be sublet to make ends meet and is once again visibly underwhelmed by the objection that this would be in breach of the tenancy agreement, at which point he realises he is dealing with a difficult and uncooperative member indeed. One who probably needed his benefits stopping, given half the chance. Meanwhile, back at the paperwork:

‘I see you’ve put here that you’re looking for an administrative post,’ he observes, drier than a Pinot Grigio, though with rather less taste – just how he managed to shoehorn quite as much sardonic and condescending disdain into the two simple words “administrative post” remains an unfathomable mystery of miraculous proportions, even implying that this was implausible aspiration of the greatest folly, something he was about to crush.

‘How fast can you type?’ he demands, the gloves now off as he readies himself to give his member a darn good pounding.

Well, that depends on what we’d be typing of course. A biblical text in the original Greek translation, not so fast at all; emails, pretty nippy actually; averaging the two, that’d be about twenty five a minute or so.

‘Twenty five?’ comes the response, again with the unflinching ability to imbue two straightforward words with sheer unadulterated contempt. ‘Not really fast enough for an admin post, is it? Well, is it?’

Again, there was no possible response to that, other than to sit back (most contumaciously, let it be said) and to watch with disbelieving eyes as he transposed this information into the computer records, so that the world might later know of the outrageous claims and expectations of his uncooperative member. It was not even with the faintest, frailest hint of irony, nor with the vaguest hint of discomfiture or humility, that he then proceeded to enact this task with slow, painful jabs of a single finger, each excruciating stab punctuated by a tedious pause as he searched for the next key he needed, which often didn’t appear to be anywhere on the keyboard at all. His Member looked on in abject and unsullied derision but heated no breath into actual comment, remembering merely that revenge is a dish best eaten cold. Getting one’s own back on this pompous and overinflated windbag would be extracted in small (and, crucially, unprovable) stings, so that he would be aware that he was being got at but wouldn’t be able to put his finger on quite how. Like providing him with a cv in a Publisher file, which he couldn’t possibly open but wouldn’t admit he didn’t know why; or providing lists of jobs applied for, all of which are fictitious; and, above all, not attaining the gainful employment that would furnish him with the lavish bonus he so lasciviously drooled after. All very childish and immature, of course, but:

Reader, I harried him.





[All opinions expressed herein are entirely personal]




Images:
Uriah Heep: By Fred Barnard (1846-1896) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Charles I on Trial: By After Edward Bower, died 1667 (Historical Portraits) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (He let his beard and hair grow long because Parliament had dismissed his barber, and he refused to let anyone else near him with a razor.)
Death of Socrates: Jacques-Louis David [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Shrew Katherina: By Edward Robert Hughes [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Medieval Builders: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down): Jean-Léon Gérôme [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Battle of Ushant: By Théodore Gudin (1802-1880) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Parliament: By Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Serfs: By anonymous (Queen Mary Master) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Eel: By opencage (http://opencage.info/pics/large_14405.asp) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Charlotte Bronte: George Richmond [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons