Junior History Medley

This year’s annual Junior History Medley saw five members of the Remove and Hundred taking the opportunity to choose a topic, conduct some independent research, and then give a short presentation on their findings to members of the Shell, Remove and Hundred.

First up was Reg Barton (C1 Hu), whose in-depth and authoritative analysis of Operation Market Garden – the failed Allied attempt to capture key strategic bridges over the Rhine in the Netherlands in 1944 – set the tone for the evening. Reg combined in-depth military analysis with some longer-term reflections, brilliantly capturing the drama of the ill-fated operation. He was followed by Jack Harper-Hill (SU Re) who gave us an informative and thoughtful overview of the Meiji Restoration in Japan in the 1860s. Jack did a great job of introducing the audience to a period of history largely unknown to most of them, including the beaks present!

Bill Campbell (B1 Hu) was up next with an assessment of influential leaders in the 20th Century. Bill’s at times controversial, yet well-reasoned, consideration of some of the most significant individuals of the past century eventually concluded with the opinion that Nelson Mandela’s dedication and willingness to follow through on his convictions made him the most impressive leader. Ned Wolfe (C3 Re) came next with a look at human responses to pandemics through the ages, examining the 14th and 19th century outbreaks of plague before drawing comparisons with the current spread of COVID-19 across the world. As well as illustrating the development in our responses to the spread of disease and striking a note of optimism for the present day, Ned’s confidence in public speaking without notes set an inspiring example.

Finally, Flora Prideaux (NC Hu) gave an overview of the wide-ranging impact of the printing press across the ages. Her presentation gave the audience a sense of the profound impact of this hugely significant invention, both at the time of its invention – spearheading the start of the Protestant Reformation across Europe, with resounding consequences – and up to the present day.

The variety in presentation style and content made for a rich tapestry of historical analysis for those lucky enough to be there. What was evident throughout all presentations, however, was the high quality of research, passion, and skill displayed by all five speakers. Well done indeed to Reg, Jack, Bill, Ned and Flora for putting on a great evening.

Alistair Hamilton
History Department

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