History that packs a punch

We interviewed Tyler Rainford, history PhD candidate and author, and editor Brodie Waddell, to get their insights on the “ginaissance” and eighteenth century research

Tyler published his article, Pro Bono Publico: Publicans, Punch, and Print in Eighteenth-Century London, in November 2022. It evaluates the extent to which eighteenth century pub owners were able to manipulate contemporary attitudes towards the selling of punch. It argues that, through advertising, punch-house-keepers were able to elevate their reputation and product. They discovered a new way to communicate their business and ultimately standardized their retailing prices in the process.

We chat to Tyler to discover the intoxicating inspiration behind his research and why he chose to publish his work open access (OA). We also speak with the editor of Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society, Brodie Waddell, to learn more about the process behind deciding what articles are featured in the journal and what a day in the life of an editor really looks like.

Tyler published his article OA making it free to read for all. He was able to do this through the JISC agreement, between Routledge and UK institutions, which you can read more about here.

Headshot of smiling history researcher Tyler Rainford

Tyler Rainford, PhD candidate and author of ‘Pro Bono Publico: Publicans, Punch and Print in Eighteenth-Century London’

          • Twitter: @Tyler_Rainford

          Please introduce yourself, your area of study, and why you chose to publish open access in this journal

          • I’m a third year PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, funded by the South West and Wales Doctoral Partnership. My research explores the role of intoxicants in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, with a specific focus on how distilled spirits informed ideas about the self and society.

            Submitting to Cultural and Social History was an obvious choice. Not only did the journal’s aims and scope align with my own research, but I also knew that it would prove an ideal avenue for my work to receive as broad a readership as possible (especially when published open access). Additionally, I had heard from my supervisors that the journal editors were excellent at supporting submissions from postgraduate and early career scholars. Submitting your first research article is a daunting process, so it’s great to know you’re in good hands.

          What interested you in this aspect of history in particular? Was it a bit of gin-spiration?

          • Absolutely! Before pursuing an MRes in 2019, I worked in a bar. Between pulling pints and shaking cocktails I became increasingly interested in why certain people order specific drinks. Taste obviously plays a huge role here, but self-fashioning is also central to the choices that we make. Pre-pandemic, the UK was gripped by a twenty-first century “Ginaissance”, which is now petering out as consumers shift towards tequilas, mezcals, and premium whiskys. Eighteenth-century London was a period and place equally defined by a so-called “Gin Craze” but with very different attitudes towards those who drank it. I wanted to move beyond gin and think about what other types of liquor were swirling around the metropolis (and beyond) at this time.

          Four friends socially drinking different choices of beverages

          What conclusions and interesting observations did you make in your article? What would you like readers to take away from it?

          • Fundamentally, I think my article demonstrates how “ordinary” individuals and groups can have a profound impact on consumption practices in their locale and beyond. Even subtle changes made on a micro-scale can make a huge difference to how a commodity is perceived by society at large through the way in which its display and its use are accommodated into (or differ from) pre-conceived notions about how and where it should be consumed. Both retailers and consumers have a role to play here.

          Like paanch, Hindi stem word for punch meaning ‘five’, what are the five key ingredients of a great research paper?

          • To have any impact, your article needs to demonstrate originality at its core.

          • A good argument and structure need to course through the entire piece.

          • Engage with (and challenge!) the relevant literature.

          • Flavour your piece with relevant sources and deploy them effectively.

          • Sweeten the deal by ensuring your formatting is exactly how the journal requests it.

          How have you measured the impact of your work so far i.e., social media interactions, expanding your professional network, etc?

          • I only use social media sparingly, but by posting my open access article on Twitter, I was able to connect with some American scholars working on the history of drugs and pharmacology. I’ve also been able to hold some fascinating discussions with experts in my field, which is a real boon to my academic development.

          What would you say to a researcher considering publishing open access in an agreement such as this one with JISC? How has this agreement supported you?

          • Do it. By publishing open access your article is almost guaranteed to have a wider reach. Additionally, it’s more likely to be picked up and engaged with by people out of your own specific sub-field (and beyond academia). This is my first academic journal article. I don’t think it would be possible for a first-timer like myself to garner so much interest in my research without it.

          Headshot of Brodie Waddell, editor of Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society

          Insights from the editor

          Find out what Brodie Waddell had to say about Tyler’s article. What made it worthy of a place in Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society?