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Postgraduate History student, Vida Jane Platt, successfully defends PhD

Press clipping: Research

Publication date3/03/11

It gives the Department of History great pleasure to be able to announce another PhD success in the department.

Vida Platt's thesis 'A Sweet, Saintly, Christian Business? The Anglican parish magazine, 1859-1918' was passed 'forthwith' by the examiners on 12 January 2011. The external examiner was Dr. Jonathan Topham (University of Leeds) and the internal examiner was Dr Corinna Peniston-Bird. Vida began her PhD in 2007 under the supervision of Dr James Taylor and Dr Thomas Dixon. She was an AHRC-funded student, and congratulations are especially in order because the thesis was completed well within the specified four years.

The thesis introduces the reader to a subject which has been largely ignored by scholars, yet parish magazines, which combined local news with nationally published religious magazines known as insets, were a phenomenal publishing success. The readership was large, reaching its peak just after the beginning of the twentieth century. While their local pages depicted Anglican parish life, the insets illuminated not only the national concerns of Anglicanism but also much British cultural and intellectual history during a period of intense social, political and religious change. The Church party debate strongly influenced parish magazine material, but the Church's anxieties over social and political change and its fears for its future were predominant. Some clergy anxieties manifested themselves through concern over the behaviour of women, but this was almost drowned out by their obsession with manliness as a means of encouraging men's church allegiance and promoting imperialism. The clamorous commercialisation of the age was not only deeply embedded, but also exacerbated by the Church's preoccupation with money. Inset production was a business which adopted many practices of the secular press. Progressively publishers hired the services of popular authors, whose secular texts undercut the Christian message by introducing conflicts and contradictions, adding to the many voices engendered by the magazines' multi-authorship. In ways such as these, worldliness, anxiety and fear emerged from the parish magazine's fractured voice.