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Revolving doors and dogs with rubber teeth
John Bowers

There is now increased porosity in the boundary between the state and business, although some movement between private and public sector is by no means new. This used to be primarily at senior levels: for example, Edward Heath as Prime Minister brought in Derek Rayner from Marks and Spencer to advise on efficiency in the public sector. At the moment, there is an abundance of rules on the employment of those leaving public office, although only for ministers and those in the upper echelons of the civil service, and the rules are not necessarily meaningfully enforced. The system is presided over by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which can only advise and offers little by way of strategy. The Nolan Committee concluded that the system for civil servants after they left public service was tested and could be easily adopted for ministers.

in Downward spiral
PPE
John Bowers

Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) increased exponentially in England from March 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. The Department of Health and Social Care spent more than £13 billion on PPE during the period. The National Audit Office is the institutional hero of the general PPE tale, because it brought it to light by meticulous work over many months. But, as in other scandals, no one in government was really held to account, even though many health and other workers died because PPE was either missing or inadequate. The conduct of various Parliamentarians came under the spotlight. The House of Lords Committee on Standards launched an investigation into Lord Chadlington for breaching financial conduct rules relating to the award of £50 million worth of government contracts: one for £23.9 million for supply of coveralls and another for £26.1 million for hand sanitiser.

in Downward spiral
Ermined disgraces
John Bowers

Consisting of an eclectic mix of nearly 800 Members as of July 2023, the House of Lords is the second largest legislature in the world, after the National People’s Congress of China. The most egregious failure of due diligence in recent times occurred in the case of Lord Lebedev. What is unprecedented here is that Johnson pursued a nomination when the House of Lords Appointments Committee (HoLAC) said ‘no no no’, and the security services apparently had concerns too. HoLAC is an independent, non-statutory, advisory, non-departmental public body with some independents and three members nominated by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. It was established in May 2000 as an interim measure, pending Lords reform, which was envisaged by the then Prime Minister (Tony Blair). Its primary role is to recommend at least two people a year for appointment as non-party-politicals, who sit on the cross-benches.

in Downward spiral

This ground-breaking book explores key methods for investigating emotions in medieval literary texts, proposing innovative approaches, drawing upon psychological theory, ‘history of emotions’ research and close critical reading, to uncover the emotional repertoire in play in English literary culture between 1200 and 1500. The extensive Introduction lays out medieval philosophical and physiological theorisations of emotion, closely bound up with cognitive processes. Following chapters investigate the changing lexis for emotion in Middle English, examining how translations from French affect the ways in which feelings are imagined. Bodily affect, both involuntary displays and deliberate gesture, is discussed in detail. Performativity – getting things done with emotions – and performance are shown to become interlinked as more sophisticated models of selfhood emerge. Concepts of interiority and the public persona, the self and self-presentation complicate the changing modes through which feeling is expressed. Literary texts are pre-eminently devices for producing emotion of various kinds; the book proposes ways of tracing how authors incorporated techniques for eliciting emotions into their narratives and their effects on their audiences. By the end of the medieval period two vital developments had expanded the possibility for varied and complex emotional expression in texts: the development of the long-form romance, encouraged by the advent of printing, and the concept of autofiction; new possibilities emerged for authors to write the emotional self.

Carolyne Larrington

This chapter examines how medieval audiences (both intra- and extradiegetic) are emotionally affected by storytelling, by the tales embedded and related within narratives and by the literary works that real-life audiences consume. It places questions of audience empathy and the elicitation of other kinds of emotions alongside the ‘paradox of fiction’ – why do audiences feel so intensely when engaging with fictional characters? The chapter explores certain psychological theories that seek to provide answers to these questions: simulation theory and embodied cognition theory, underpinned by the operation of neural networks. Recent psychological studies of emotion and communal audience reactions – emotional contagion – provide context for the conditions under which medieval literary texts were most often consumed, and the neurophysiological bases for empathy are explored. The chapter also takes up the crucial distinction between emotion produced by events within a narrative and emotion produced by the aesthetics of the narrative itself: a distinction that can be traced back to Augustine, and which informs clerical and secular writing in the medieval period. Verbal works of art are expressly designed to elicit emotion; the chapter identifies the effective techniques authors employ in their narration. Lastly, this chapter considers the ways in which audience emotions are modelled and guided within texts and closes with an examination of the emotional impact of cycle drama upon its audiences.

in Approaches to emotion in Middle English literature
Peter Lake

This chapter analyses three collections of sermons, preached during the reign of Charles I in 1636/37 in prominent pulpits by Daniel Featley, Griffith Williams, and John Prideaux as powerful statements on the pre-Laudian status quo ante, a version of Jacobean Reformed orthodoxy. Their publication coincided with the renewed prospect of Charles I re-entering the Thirty Years War. If war forced Charles to seek parliamentary supply, then in order to appease parliament a new ecclesiastical establishment might very well be required. Since Williams was very close to his kinsman Bishop John Williams, who had been positioning himself as the moderate Calvinist alternative to Laud since the late 1620s, and Featley had been George Abbot’s chaplain and a long-standing adversary of Arminianism, and Prideaux was the Regius Professor of Divinity and Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, their three volumes of sermons can be read as advertisements for what such an establishment might look like. All three were explicitly anti-Catholic, apologists for iure divino episcopacy and the Prayer Book, and employed the hypothetical universalist position on predestination to oppose what they termed Pelagian or Arminian error. They were also resolutely anti-puritan, although on terms very different from those espoused by the Laudians. Aggressively conformist, all three nevertheless distanced themselves from the Laudian ideal of the beauty of holiness. These massive tomes thus represent a detailed evocation of what had passed for Reformed orthodoxy under James I, an account now rendered newly relevant by the shifting political circumstances of the later 1630s.

in Reformed identity and conformity in England, 1559–1714
Open Access (free)
French books and male readers in fifteenth-century England
J. R. Mattison

This chapter assesses the evidence for the movement of books in French during the Hundred Years War. Using the surviving books of Humfrey, duke of Gloucester, as a starting point, it reveals a network of cross-Channel book owners during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Operating through the shared language of French, this predominantly masculine network is further strengthened by military roles. Such military links both developed relationships between men and facilitated the movement of people during the course of the war that led to the exchange of books. The contexts of these exchanges encompassed gifts, purchases, ransoms and more. Linked foremost by martial and gender ties, rather than national or social affiliations, these men participated in the transnational trade of books that persisted even beyond the official end of the Hundred Years War.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Conor Bollins

Examining the decades before the 1790s uncovers key ‘Enlightened’ conversations that involved thinking anew about poverty that did not endure into the nineteenth century. As Conor Bollins shows, one important example here is the debate over ancient and modern demography. He investigates the mid-century activities of the Scottish minister and philosopher Robert Wallace (1697–1771), who developed a widow’s fund as a test policy for larger schemes of social insurance. Like many Enlightened thinkers, Wallace believed that modern Europe was experiencing depopulation and was facing the prospect of civilisational collapse. He attributed this to rising poverty. In response, Wallace developed both new theories and concrete solutions to create a more equitable distribution of land and resources, in the hope of encouraging families to grow. Demography emerges as a separate field of discourse to political economy in which issues of poverty were debated and the means for its amelioration or alleviation proposed. Moreover, Wallace was an innovative thinker working out schemes of social insurance, with some success, long before the radicalism of the 1790s.

in Ideas of poverty in the Age of Enlightenment
John Bowers

Lying has been an enduring and encompassing theme of Boris Johnson’s career. He also has an anarchist tendency: he is a disruptor who is into breaking things, as can be seen most clearly over Brexit. Johnson represented a new variant of populist politics with a strain of celebrity to it, and in this he resembled Donald Trump. Johnson’s sporadic relationship with the truth was ‘priced in’ when he was selected as Conservative Party leader in 2019 and then elected by the people with an eighty-seat majority. There are two areas that show the extent to which Johnson disrespected standards in public life, the first of which registered with the public quite low on the Richter scale of scandals, but the second of which really burst through and nearly finished him off. Under Johnson, political deceit became not just commonplace but almost, it seemed, an automatic reaction.

in Downward spiral
John Bowers

Corruption has always existed in British politics, and it has never been confined to one party. The eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s government were generally scandal free, leaving John Major with a hard act to follow. He was considered a reliable figure, and pushed a wide-ranging agenda of so-called ‘back to basics’ in an attempt to reassert what some described as ‘Victorian values’. First there was the arms-to-Iraq affair, in which it was revealed that the government had endorsed sales of British-made armaments to the regime of Saddam Hussein. In October 1994, Major called in the senior law lord Lord Nolan to investigate the ‘standards of conduct of all public office-holders’. The first Nolan Report considered standards in the House of Commons, central government (ministers and civil servants) and non-departmental public bodies. Tony Blair seemed to be a new type of politician.

in Downward spiral