POLITICAL ORATORICAL PANDEMONIUM: How did Political Spin Begin? Public Lecture give by Dr. Luke Blaxill (University of Cambridge)
Since October 2016, I have held a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship, and am based in Cambridge. I am also currently a visiting scholar at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, and College Lecturer in Modern British History at Hertford College, Unievrsity of Oxford. I was previously Draper's Company Junior Research Fellow at University of Oxford, and completed my PhD at King's College London in 2012.
I am a modern British political historian specialising in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century British Politics., especially political parties, elections and psephology, ideology, and political language and communication. I have also featured on TV and Radio shows, including BBC Radio 4, and Yesterday channel. I am also very interested in the Digital Humanities, especially in interdisciplinary 'big data' research methodologies such as Text Mining. I am also interested in women in British politics since 1945, and the British and the British Monarchy and Constitution more generally.
Much of my research to date has focused on a key methodological question. Namely, how historians can analyze huge multi-million word texts which are physically impossible to read in totality, for example general election campaigns in the late Victorian and Edwardian period, where an estimated billion words of platform speeches were delivered nationwide.
My forthcoming Book 'The War of Words: the Language of British Electoral Politics, 1880-1914', which is based on my doctoral thesis (brief summary), explores how quantitative and qualitative text mining techniques originating from Corpus Linguistics can help meet this challenge. More specifically, I will demonstrate how the systematic computerised analysis of millions of words of text can lead to new insights and major revisions to historians' current understanding of British political language, which has thus far been based exclusively on manual reading and focused case studies.
I am also working on a number of other interesting projects. The first is a substantial grant-funded project ('Digging into Linked Parliamentary Data') which uses text mining to investigate the differences between male and female MPs' language patterns in Parliament since 1945. Some of this research was recently published in Twentieth Century British History and in History and Policy.
Other collaborative projects I am working on include a major psepholgical reassessment of the displacement of the Liberal Party by Labour in the 1920s, which will act as a sequel to a similar piece for the 1990-1914 period already published in Historical Journal. I am also working on another text mining project, which is using these computerised reading techniques to assess the Wellcome Trust's recently digitised London's Pulse corpus of London Medical Officer of Health reports from 1848-1972.
Outside of my role as a historian, I am best known as the author of the bestselling Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, which has regularly appeared on TV and in newspapers. The Guide has sold 500,000 copies since it first appeared in 2009 and is licensed by most universities in the UK.
I have done a good deal of radio and TV broadcasting working Yesterday Channel, BBC Radio 4, Sky News, Russia Today, BBC London, and French Radio London. I have also appeared in the Guardian (three times) including one feature length piece, once in the Telegraph in a feature length piece, once in the Independent, and several times in smaller outlets. See for example:
* The Long View with Jonathan Freedland (8th Jan 2019): Prime Ministers and Divided Parties
* Documentary about Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth (26 Oct 2018): Documentary about Elizabeth and Margaret
* The Long View with Jonathan Freedland (21 Nov 2017): Weakened Prime Mninisters
If you would like comment, advice, or to discuss a potential appearence or contribution, please get in touch by email at or at one of the institutional email addresses listed at the foot of the page.