The Artist-Scientist in the history of the Submarine Telegraph

Samuel F. B. Morse’s painting “Gallery of the Louvre” from Art Knowledge News

Previously I’ve briefly discussed some thoughts on the links between art and science through the telescope of history. Through my research into the history of submarine telegraphy I’ve been struck by a continued link, and not just through representations and display, but through professions.

At least two telegraph engineers (that I’ve come across so far) had a previous career as an artist before turning to a life of experiment and science. One is probably one of the most famous men linked to electrical telegraphy, Samuel F. B. Morse. Morse’s career as a painter brought him to England in 1811, where he studied under Washington Allerton, and was eventually allowed into the Royal Academy. Morse went back to America in 1816 and enjoyed a successful career painting portraits of many prominent politicians. In 1830 Morse decided to return to Europe to improve his painting skills, and it was on this trip that he began to develop his concept of the single-wire electric telegraph.[1]

The second artists turned engineer was John W. Brett, one of the pioneers of submarine telegraphy. . In 1831 it appeared he was on the cusp of breaking through as an artist himself, but in October, a few days before the infamous Bristol riots, a fire broke out that destroyed his entire collection which included his own work as well as rare works he had acquired.[2] It appears that this personal disaster spurred Brett on to achieve success in an alternative way, through study and collecting Old Masters, this wide-ranging collection of fine art was highly credited and Brett consequently loaned works to exhibitions held in Manchester, the South Kensington Museum and the Royal Institution of British Architects.[3] However this wasn’t the only source of his fortune, like many people Brett’s imagination had been ignited by the recent success of the overland telegraph. In a conversation with his younger brother, Jacob Brett, it was suggested that if cables had been laid underground, why not underwater. The seed had been sown, but France wasn’t the first location the brothers wanted to connect via submarine cable, in 1845 Jacob Brett registered a company to unite Europe and America, when this was deemed too risky and large a scheme for such a young business the Bretts suggested a cable between England and Ireland, but this was declined by the British Government. According to the Oxford National Dictionary of Biography an agreement was eventually made with the French government in 1847 and it was decided to lay a telegraph cable between Dover and Calais.[4] A cable was eventually successfully laid in 1851, and was the first international submarine telegraph cable.

I’m sure there are many more artist turned scientists, there is after the Jungian Archetype of the Artist-Scientist, of which Wikipedia suggests Su Song, Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin (another pioneer of electricity). Perhaps it is the showman ship early electricity experiments encouraged, or the creativity of invention that attracted the cross-over, or perhaps it is some sort of psychological trait and there are many modern and ancient examples that I haven’t discovered yet.

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Collecting Cables

From Sheerness to Valentia, on board Brunel's paddle steamer 'Great Eastern'. Copyright National Maritime Museum. The NMM got some cable samples thrown in when they bought this at auction!

Last week I got into the National Maritime Mmuseum’s institutional archives, held at the LTE stores, to try and find out a bit more about the provenance of some of the cables now at the NMM. As with most museum archives the records held on objects were a bit hit and miss, some had a large file full of correspondence, and others didn’t even have a file, well not one I could find!

However, from the files I did get a look at, there did seem to be a pattern emerging; the cables themselves were not something the keepers of yester-year found exciting. More often than not the bits of cable appear to have been acquired along with other objects, and was often just listed on an inventory list or, my favourite, appeared as a condition for acquiring a painting at auction. (It appears the presentation box of cables wasn’t listed along with the painting and just suddenly turned up on the later paperwork, I imagine the Museum was very surprised).

Interestingly some of these objects were family papers, or other items, linked to men that either worked in the cable-laying industry or had another maritime or naval connection. It is generally assumed that the section was acquired in their line of work, though I found it interesting that one set of objects were part of an Admiral’s collection of ‘relics’.

Another large group of cables came from the Royal Artillery Museum along with a number of ship models, I think, and I’ve found documents relating to transfer of the ship models, but not the cables. A book on ship models at the NMM does detail that a number of objects were transferred over as the Royal Artillery Museum realised they had a lot of objects not related to artillery in their collection, but I seem at a dead-end for paper work related to this.[1] Furthermore the Royal Artillery Museum couldn’t find any documentation related to the move either (though I have to commend them on the speed at which they got back to me!)

Overall I’ve learnt a valuable lesson about the difficulties in obtaining an object biography of particular objects, you’re often relying on the administration principals of past policies of a museum, and record keeping culture, like collecting culture, changes over time. Some of these records seem to portray the perceived importance of what the object represents and the larger story it can tell rather than an interest in the object’s individual story. This leaves me at looking for the bigger picture myself, but taking into consideration the individual clues left by the object, in this case clearly pointing in the direction of the cable repair ships in collecting and possibly disseminating the sections of cable.


[1] B. Lavery & S. Steohens, Ship Models: Their Purpose and Development from 1650 to the Present, (London, 1995)

Brief Historiography of Submarine Telegraphy

Charles Bright, 'Submarine Telegraphs - Their History, Construction, and Working', (London 1889), AtlanticCable.com

I haven’t done a blog for a while, mainly as I’m still trying to get my head round such a huge topic that just seems to be growing and growing. Last week I put together a short paper look at where and was and thinking about where I’m going. As part of this I wrote a very brief historiography of the Submarine Telegraph and Submarine Telegraph cables. This is probably the section of that paper that made the most amount of sense so I thought I’d share it with you:

 

There are some key areas that work on submarine telegraphy tends to focus. These include the technical aspects of the cable which looks at the science behind the invention, application and development; this works spans from nineteenth century work up to more modern titles.[1] It is for these sorts of works that I believe the sections of submarine cables still held at museums have been predominantly used for; they are records of the materials and techniques used over the course of the submarine telegraph industry.

A more recent, but very popular, area of work looks at the political and imperial aspects of the cable i.e. how policy and empire was affected by the cables or vice versa.[2] Themes of empire and technology seem to have grown and developed of the years, and it is interesting that I have found one of the earliest examples of this sort of work, Kennedy’s ‘Imperial Cable Communications and Strategy, 1870-1914’, one of the most informative of the relationship between the British Government and the submarine telegraph. Another strong body of work are the narrative histories of cables and biographies of dominate players; these histories tend to focus on the most famous cable, the Atlantic cable and have been written since the cable began to be laid in the latter half of the nineteen century.[3] In recent times the subject of the submarine telegraph cables has been revisited by other disciplines, appearing to become increasingly relevant to the modern world reliant on fiber-optic submarine cables for transmitting information around the world.[4]

Cultural aspects are touched on in some of the above works, but it on the whole the history of submarine telegraphy has been untouched by postmodernism. There are a couple of exceptions which includes Gillian Cookson’s paper given at the Science Museum in 2006 entitled ‘Submarine Cables: Novelty and Innovation, 1850-1870’ in which the theory is argued that by 1870 the submarine telegraph was no longer a novelty to the public or commerce. There have also been some interesting avenues of research in an overlapping area of study, the regular overland telegraphy. I. Rhys Morus’ ‘The Nervous System of Britain’: Space, Time and the Electric Telegraph in the Victorian Age’ looks at the imagery associated with the telegraph and consequential meaning, suggesting that the embodiment of the telegraph through nervous system metaphors underlines its intelligence and speed but also suggests a system of management and a network of surveillance and discipline.[5] R. Menke’s Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems takes an alternative route of looking at language by using Victorian fiction as the starting point. Menke uses the idea of Media Ecology, the concept ‘a culture’s range of technologies and codes of communication dramatically shape and are shaped by human experiences, thoughts and values’,[6] to suggest that the Victorian idea of networks stemmed from the natural structures and so was then translated to technical structures, also the increase in data available through the telegraph helped develop the idea of information instead of knowledge.[7] These are features that can be seen in Victorian fiction, though Menke also points out that though Victorian novelists, like Dickens, were interested in the technology it was only from the 1860s and 1870s people ‘begin to imagine the fictional possibilities of electric telegraphy’.[8] This appears to be a growing area of study as I noticed at a workshop held by the Commodities and Culture network on ‘Commodities in Motion’ in July 2010 Clare Pettitt gave a paper entitled ‘The Telegraphic imaginer: Scrambled Messages in the 1860s’, that explored the forms of address and authority constructed by the technologies of the telegraph and the realist novel in the 1860s and 1870s, considering ‘the ways in which both proclaim themselves as representative of an ultimately knowable world susceptible to infinitely connective network’.[9]

Clearly the themes of imagery, representation and metaphor with regards to submarine telegraphy have only begun to be explored by historians, and as I am mainly focusing on objects these areas are central to my work.

If you know of any other works that I’ve missed here, and I know I’ve missed many, please do let me know. It’s worth mentioning that the Atlantic Cable website has quite an extensive bibliography, this includes references to biographies and local histories that I haven’t quite got round to:
http://atlantic-cable.com/bibliography.htm


[1] C. Bright, Submarine Telegraphs, (London, 1898); V. T. Coates & B. Finn, A Retrospective Technology Assessment: Submarine Telegraphy. The Transatlantic Cable of 1866, (California, 1979); K. Haigh, Cable Ships and Submarine Cables, (London, 1968)

[2] B. Finn & D. Yang, ed., Communications under the Seas: The Evolving Cable Network and Its Implications, (Massachusetts, 2009); D. R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire: Technology European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1981); D. R. Headrick, The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics 1851-1945 (New York, 1991); B. Hunt, ‘Doing Science in a Global Empire: Cable Telegraphy and Electrical Physics in Victorian Britain’, in E. Lightman ed., Victorian Science in Context (Chicago, 1997); R. Kubicek, ‘British Expansion, Empire, and Technological Change’, in A. Porter ed., The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Nineteen Century, Vol. 3 (Oxford, 1999); Y. Bektas, ‘The Sultan’s Messenger: Cultural Constructions of Ottoman Telegraphy, 1847-1880’ in Technology and Culture, vol. 41 (2000); and finally P. M. Kennedy, ‘Imperial Cable Communications and Strategy, 1870-1914’ in The English Historical Review, vol. 86 (Oct. 1971)

[3] G. Cookson, The Cable: The Wire that Changed the World (Wiltshire, 2003); B. S. Finn, Submarine Telegraphy: The Grand Victorian Technology (Margate, 1973); J. Steele Gordon, A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable (Bath, 2002); S. Carter, Cyrus Field, Man of Two Worlds, (New York, 1968); B. Dibner, The Atlantic Cable, (Norwalk, 1959).

[4] E. J. Malecki & H. Wei, ‘A Wired World: The Evolving Geography of Submarine Cables and the Shift to Asia’ in Annals of the Association of American Geographers vol. 99 (2009) and M. Sechrist, ‘Cyberspace in Deep Water: Protesting the Arteries of the Internet’, in Harvard Kennedy School Review, vol 10 (2009-2010) are good examples of articles written in the past two years looking at modern-day cables with reference to the Victorian invention.

[5] I. Rhys Morus, ‘The Nervous System of Britain’: Space, Time and the Electric Telegraph in the Victorian Age’ in The British Journal for the History of Science, vo. 33 (2000)

[6] R. Menke, Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems (Stanford, 2008) p. 12

[7] Menke, Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems p.18

[8] Menke, Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems p. 163

[9] Abstracts from papers presented at the workshop: http://www.commoditiesandculture.org/fileadmin/Documents/Abstracts___Bios_copy.pdf (22 June 2011)

First Week of NMM internship: First thoughts on the submarine telegraph cables

National Maritime Museum from the Royal Observatory. © Jonathan Eudall

This week I have started a 6 week internship at the National Maritime Museum. This is a great opportunity for me to work within a national museum and a museum I really admire. This is a particularly exciting time at the NMM as it is building up to the opening of their new wing, the Sammy Ofer Wing, in July, it is also exciting for me as I can get my hands on their world-renowned collection!

I’m there to do some research into the Museum’s collection relating to submarine telegraphy (unsurprisingly), and am particularly interested in the commemoration and celebration of the various cables. The majority of their collection relating to submarine telegraphy consists of samples submarine telegraph cables, and this week I was lucky enough to get into the stores with Curator of Navigation, Richard Dunn, to have a look. This blog post is to convey  my initial thoughts on the cables as examples of a material culture relating to submarine telegraphy, or perhaps the ‘cult of the telegraph’, (I admit that might be a bit strong).

These thoughts are purely based on the aesthetics of the objects and so are quite superficial observations. I am still working on the object biographies, making my way through the paper copies of acquisitions and other material, and will hopefully be able to share a more critical analysis of the objects in due course. I should also mention that unfortunately I’m unable to put any pictures up, so I hope you can visualise the cables by my descriptions!

What strikes me the most is the variation in presentation and appearance of the submarine cables. They can vary from very small sliver of cross-sections of cable to large wooden boxes lined in blue felt and a glass top containing five or six differing size cables with their comparable cross-sections or sections finished with a shiny black jute tar with brass bands at either end to stripped back layers displaying the copper wire core and layers of gutta-percha and hemp.

The different styles and methods of display suggest different audiences or targets, as well as the obvious different designs of cable. The use of a display case is the more clearly designed presentation of the cables. The expense and size suggest that these were of a certain importance, perhaps presented to an investor of the corresponding cable, or a display case for a company involved. These cases are large and heavy and would appear to demand a prominent place of display. Some detail on the plaque inside the case also invites some discussion about the cables, why they are different and how they are used.

In contrast, the small pieces of cable could easily be pocket-sized souvenirs, some have an inscription of the relevant cable e.g ‘Dover to Calais’, and also a company. There is an element of advertising in the use of company name. In fact, some companies appear to have a style of display, for example in the collection are a series of Siemens Bros & Company inscribed sections of cable. They are of different widths and possibly different cables, but they have the same black tar and brass end finish, but what I find interesting about these pieces of cable is that they are all numbered. Unlike other inscribed sections of cable they don’t have the locations they are associated with, just the company name and a number.  R. S. Newall’s cables are also presented in the same way with an outer layer of nine galvanised iron wires with brass ends, though these have locations inscribed as well as the company. These sections of cable are earlier than the Siemens cables and some are associated with cables that failed, such as the Red Sea cable of 1858, perhaps Siemens learnt a lesson from this and wanted to avoid any unfortunate association with future failures. 

Finally this are also a group of cables that don’t appear to be ‘finished off’, there doesn’t appear to be any attempt to display them or note a company or cable association with it. They could easily be left over parts, or unofficial souvenirs, perhaps found or sawn off. The intrigue of these bits of cable is enhanced with some of their obvious deterioration, perhaps these are sections that have been recovered from the sea.

With these clear distinctions there seems to be an obvious hierarchy of display and commemoration. There also appears to be a contrasting very formal setting for some of the cable alongside a very unofficial setting for others. Sitting within the ‘Miscellaneous Antiquities’ category of the Museum’s collections means the submarine cables sit in a classification alongside preserved food, geological specimens, musical instruments and items relating to maritime custom and superstition. To me this highlights the relationship between maritime culture and these sections of submarine telegraph cables, these cables were one of the first uses of the seabed, only recently measured by Matthew Maury, so I wonder if there is a level of superstition surrounding the cable. There is clearly a feeling of prestige and respectability surrounding the submarine telegraph cable for those that wanted to large presentation boxes, there is also an element of education and possible interest in the workings of the cable for the layered and cross-sectioned items. Though the small and also nondescript items suggest a more popular interest.

I haven’t really discussed the different cables in terms of location, needless to say that the transatlantic cable definitely generated a lot interest. Though the interest did not end there, and the sections of cable do cover many locations, however as many cables do not have an inscription I need to go through the paper records in more details before I try to draw any conclusions regarding relations between presentation and location.

Starting Research – questions & objects

Early submarine cables and grapnel, 1858-1866. © Science Museum, London

I have recently started work on my MA dissertation, which has meant I’ve identified my topic, my key sources and started to look at secondary reading. For my topic I’m planning on looking at the National Maritime Museum’s collection related to submarine telegraphy and to see how that represents submarine telegraphy and if that can tell me anything about how the contemporaries of this new technology considered it, which in turn might tell me something about how they viewed themselves.

There is quite a bit of secondary reading and I might try and put together a bit of a historiography post on it at a later stage. At the moment I have been looking at the NMM’s collection list and trying to get a feel for the objects before I am formally introduced to them.

The vast majority of objects are sections of cable, the submarine telegraph cables laid under the sea to convey the electric pulses between countries. They trace the development of these cables from the early attempts that were too light and inefficient, to the larger, heavier, well protected, and more efficient cables successfully used to link Britain and America in 1866 and Britain and the Empire shortly afterwards. I believe that these cables have prodomently been studied with the view of gathering a material and scientific history of telegaphy and electricity. However I’m more interested in imagery and representation.

The Eighth Wonder of the World: The Atlantic Cable. © National Maritime Museum, London

The most dominant imagery associated with the telegraph throughout the nineteenth century is the human body, more specifically the nervous system, highlighting the intelligence and possible control transmitted and the speed at which it is done. For probably the most famous submarine telegraphy, the transatlantic telegraph, popular connotations were of peace and harmony, many people believed this cable could bring world peace and a greater understanding between peoples. But can this be seen in the material culture produced at the time? Futhermore do they hint at other popular themes associated with the submarine telegraph such as empire, modernity and power?

At the moment without seeing the objects and only a small amount of information printed from the NMM’s collections database, I have more questions than answers. Though it is clear that some of the bits of cable are mounted and others not. Of the earlier bits of cable brass and wood are used to display them – so what is the significance of the use of these materials? Do they related to nature, modernisty, science or themes of masculinity? It also seems that there is a increase in the displayed cables after the successful transatlantic cable, was the romantic and harrowing tale of the laying of this cable what caught the public imagination and spurred the creation of souvenir items for that and later cables? Or was the cost so significant that thank you gifts were felt neccessary to keep funders on board?

What will be significant is these object biographies: who made them, where the cables parts salvaged from broke parts or specially spliced off working cables, how did them come into the NMM’s collection?

As you can see I have more questions than answers, but I look forward to getting my hands on those bits of cable and trying out my theories on you soon!

NT Live! Frankenstein at King’s College Anatomy Theatre

Last night (17 March 2011) I had the pleasure of attending one of the NT Live events, and a live screening of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle. There were several screenings in London, and indeed around the world, but I decided to go for one I felt would be the most suitable location, the Anatomy Theatre at King’s College.

This proved to be a wise decision as it turned out that the evening was not just going to include the screening of the production, but also a talk by Dr Colin Stolkin entitled ‘Neuroscience & the Gothic: Frankenstein Rising’ in the Anatomy Museum with drinks! As you can imagine I was beside myself with excitement!

As it turned out the talk was in more of an empty room than a museum, my imaginings of being surrounded by skeletons and organs in jars had obviously gone too far. Though the talk itself lived up to everything I could have hoped for, putting Mary Shelley’s novel in the context of science history. Dr Stolkin took us on a journey of the late eighteenth century experiments with electricity, introducing us to characters like Luigi Galvani, Alessandro Volta, Giovanni Aldini, Alexander von Humboldt and Benjamin Franklin.

 

Aldini's experiments. Wellcome Library, London

Aldini, it turned out, preformed the most gruesome of the these early experiments with electricity, and some say was the basis of Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein. These experiments included making the decapitated head of an oxen perform life-like responses, and led to experimenting with the remains of criminals who had been guillotined. In 1803 Aldini came to London and started to perform roadshows demonstrating the wonderous powers of electricity. It was at this time that he preformed his most notorious experiment on the remains of the convicted murder, George Forester, at the Royal College of Surgeons. He applied so much electricity that he was able to not only stimulate the muscles but also made the lungs inflate and simulate the act of breathing. The possibility of bringing the dead back to live seemed more real than ever before.

With tales like these the mood had been suitably set for what was to come. After the talk we refilled our wine and shuffled into the Anatomy Theatre taking our surprising comfortable seats to await the production. It was introduced by a women standing the National Theatre auditorium, and you could tell the free wine was starting to have an effect as, we audience, were far more amused by watching the general public in the background trying to find their seats than we probably should have been.

 

Image from the National Theatre's Frankenstein from the Frankensteinia Blog

We then watched a ‘Making of’ film, which I enjoyed though I can only recount a couple of pieces of information from it. What I took away was that the Bodleian Library in Oxford paid £3 million to acquire Mary Shelley’s original manuscript, and that influences used by Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller in creating their Creature were from recovering stroke patients, victims of war and car accidents, as well as Johnny’s two year old.

Apologies if you’re now hoping for a full review of the production, I’m not going to provide that here as there are many reviews out on the web. Instead I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and did feel it successfully brought out some key themes of the book (if I remember correctly from my English Literature A-Level). I was surprised by the absence of Frankenstein for the first half of the play, though I suppose that was useful in establishing our relationship with and sympathy for the Creature. The music used was very industrial and helped build atmosphere for us watching on a screen. Also I wonder how much Danny Boyle had a hand in the directing of the camera work, as we had the advantage of watching from all angles, seeing the Creature come to live from above as well as the side, and on the whole the camera work worked well. Though there were just a couple of occasions you felt someone had cut to a different camera a bit too soon, but that’s to be expect from live broadcasts.

Secret Cinema event in a Tunnel, WeMadeThis.co.uk

Inevitably watching on screen is not the same at being in the theatre, and I think we principally lost out in the use of lighting and the immersive quality of plays. There were a beautiful collection of bulbs that were used throughout the play, but watching from afar I felt it was impossible to feel the texture or fully appreciate the use of the lighting. It made me jealous, but didn’t prevent me from enjoying and feeling emotionally part of the action in front of me.

Overall I had a great time, and I think NT Live is a great way to bring together the two old enemies of theatre and cinema together, and with this and events like Secret Cinema it is clear there are ways theatre and cinema can work together and complement each other. Though being a history geek it was the offer of the talk before the play, putting the original story in context, that helped create the magical atmosphere that could be lost not sitting in a theatre, I hope I’ve managed to convey that here.

I believe there is another screening on 24 March 2011, and if you can get tickets I would definitely urge you to go.

History: an Art or Science? How different are they?

Conrad Shawcross is the Artist in residence at the Science Museum, London. The Science Museum is one of many scientific institutions that see a value in having artists in residence to engage their audience.

This is an age old question, and as I was trying to put together a presentation on it for University, I’m not planning on trying to answer it at length here.

But while mulling it over I began to realise just how intermingled the two disciplines are today.

History is a bit of a confusing subject, it sits under the branch of learning called Humanities (defined as the study of human culture), different History masters courses can get you a MA or a MSc, and funding for the Arts and Humanities Research Council comes from the Science and Innovation Group, part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. None of these points help.

Most arguments of this nature seem to focus on whether or not History is a science, assuming that if you are not a science you must be an art. But I’m not entirely convinced they are exact opposites. Both generally speaking build on previous knowledge or thought, and Postmodernists are able to demonstrate cultural influences on scientific thought as much as artistic, I’ve included a picutre of a piece of work by Conrad Shawcross, and here is a link to an interesting article about Salvador Dalí’s relationship and interest in science. Some of the most interesting pieces of modern art can come out of scientific influences, and scientists can get inspiration or that spark from the arts. Thomas Kuhn demonstrated that even scientific discoveries have been influenced by cultural factors, and it is clear that some sciences are heavily influenced by interpretation. It seems to be increasingly important for science to borrow from the arts to help engage a wider audience with their work and from the large amount of ‘popular’ science books out by authors like Brian Cox and Robert Winston it seems to be a healthy relationship.

I’ll finish up with a letter by Gregory Petsko, a Professor in Biochemistry and Chemistry, recently published in the Genome Biology journal arguing that science needs the arts and humanities:

One of the things I’ve written about is the way genomics is changing the world we live in. Our ability to manipulate the human genome is going to pose some very difficult questions for humanity in the next few decades, including the question of just what it means to be human. That isn’t a question for science alone; it’s a question that must be answered with input from every sphere of human thought, including – especially including – the humanities and arts. Science unleavened by the human heart and the human spirit is sterile, cold, and self-absorbed. It’s also unimaginative: some of my best ideas as a scientist have come from thinking and reading about things that have, superficially, nothing to do with science. If I’m right that what it means to be human is going to be one of the central issues of our time, then universities that are best equipped to deal with it, in all its many facets, will be the most important institutions of higher learning in the future. You’ve just ensured that yours won’t be one of them.

The rest of the letter can be found here.

This letter was written in reaction to the State University of New York at Albany deciding to get rid of its departments of French, Italian, Classics, Russian and Theater Arts. As cuts loom over the UK and both the sciences and arts feel the need to defend their purpose and position it is worth remembering the similarities and benefits of both.