In collaboration with Bruce Kinzer and Molly Baer Kramer, Rector Trainor has recently co-edited Reform and Its Complexities in Modern Britain: Essays Inspired by Sir Brian Harrison, published by Oxford University Press.
While most edited volumes focus on themes, this collection’s theme arises from the life’s work of acclaimed historian Sir Brian Harrison: his interests, methods, and underlying philosophy. An Emeritus Fellow at Corpus Christi College and formerly editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Harrison has deeply shaped the understanding of reform in modern British history. The contributors to Reform and Its Complexities in Modern Britain honour Harrison’s contribution to social and political history, and speak to the complex and conflicting forces that moved diverse peoples to undertake and oppose “reform,” a term laden with ideological baggage. Among the ten essays that comprise the collection are fresh examinations of the history of juvenile delinquency, the animal protection movement, and the Dictionary of National Biography itself.
Rector Trainor has authored a chapter of the book which uses Exeter College as a case study of the substantial but incomplete 19th-century reform of the two ancient English universities. “Another Look at Victorian University Reform: The Case of Exeter College Oxford” examines Exeter’s prominent role in the reform process to illuminate the factors which propelled and inhibited change in these Victorian universities. Rector Trainor explores how a range of internal and external factors – such as Fellows’ desires for increased academic rigour and national political pressure, respectively – partially transformed Exeter, previously a relatively academically obscure college, during the Victorian period, into an institution far more focused on advanced secular research than it had been in the early 19th century.
Reform and Its Complexities in Modern Britain: Essays Inspired by Sir Brian Harrison is an innovative tribute to Harrison’s six decades of illuminating change and continuity in British society in all of its knottiness.