Postgraduate Spotlight: Lasse Andersen

Lasse Andersen is a second year PhD student of Modern History. In this post he shares about his unlikely journey to his love of history and more about his current research.

The fact that Lasse Andersen is now a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews would have seemed very unlikely had you met him little over a decade ago when he was practicing his bread baking skills in a small-town family bakery in rural Jutland. His father had been a great baker, so it seemed like a natural career choice to simply stay in town and do the same. But things were not to be so simple. The state intervened on behalf of the Queen, and Lasse was conscripted to the Royal Danish Navy where he was to aide in the defence of her Realm against all enemies and trespassers, especially in that vast arctic appendage to it that is Greenland. In reality, however, this mostly just involved him baking more bread, but with the added challenge of being at sea.

It was while he was at sea watching out for those trespassers (and waiting for the bread to prove) that he acquired an obsessive interest in reading. At first, he read histories of naval warfare and seafaring peoples, but one day during a particularly bad storm in the North Sea he suddenly developed an acute interest in land and all things attached to it. Upon his return, he enrolled at the University of Aarhus, where he was taught Foucault and Marx, but mostly just read about the Scottish Enlightenment. After writing his BA dissertation on Montesquieu and Adam Smith (and land), he briefly boarded yet another ship and eventually acquired the means to settle in St Andrews. He finished an MLitt in Intellectual History in 2018 with a dissertation on the changing idea of an Agrarian Law in seventeenth and eighteenth century Scotland.

His current research takes the question of land distribution into the nineteenth century, being a project about the movement for land reform in Britain in the period 1865-1875. It focuses on radical ideas about the tenure, transfer, and taxation of land within political economy and jurisprudence, especially as these came to prominence with the formation of the Land Tenure Reform Association, a pressure group headed by John Stuart Mill from 1869 to 1873. By 1873, the year of Mill’s death, more than 30 prominent radicals had signed up as members of this association, and the ideas that informed its programme reflected their anti-aristocratic liberalism and their collective experience with different systems of land tenure in places such as Ireland, India, France and North America. The essential idea behind their desire to ‘emancipate the soil’ from the confines of feudalism – from the dead hand of primogeniture and entails – was that the free and easy transfer of land would enable a much wider distribution of land, generating a numerous class of peasant proprietors whose direct interest in the produce of the soil would make agriculture more productive and give previously landless labourers an interest in the prosperity of society and the preservation of property.

Aside from John Stuart Mill, Lasse’s research focuses on many lesser-known individuals such as John Eliot Cairnes, James E. Thorold Rogers, and Thomas E. Cliffe Leslie, all of whom were members of the Land Tenure Reform Association, as well as on Louis Mallet and the 8th Duke of Argyll, the association’s primary and most vocal detractors.

One question that Lasse is particularly interested in researching is the relation between these radical land reformers and laissez-faire liberalism, a question that is intimately connected to the advent of marginalism in British political economy as well as to the debate about Richard Cobden’s legacy in the decade after his death in 1865.

Celebrating Black History Month 2019

Black History Month logo from https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/

Today is the first day of Black History Month.  This year we are celebrating Black and African diaspora histories in a number of ways. 

Our research seminar programmes for October include speakers presenting topics that intersect with Black histories:

On Thursday 10th October, Dr Claire Eldridge from the University of Leeds will speak to the Modern History seminar about ‘Conflict and Community in the Trenches: Military Justice, Colonial Soldiers and the French Army during the First World War’ at 5.15pm in room 1.10, St Katharine’s Lodge.

On Monday 14th October, Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones from the University of York will speak to the Medieval Studies seminar about ‘The Swahili world in the medieval globe: writing history with things’ at 1.15pm in the Old Class Library, St John’s House.

Later that day (Monday 14th October), at 4pm Dr Kate Law from the University of Nottingham will speak to the Modern History seminar about ‘”A delicate subject”: Family Planning and Apartheid, South Africa c. 1974-1994’ in room 1.10, St Katharine’s Lodge.

Other research seminars relevant to Black histories will also be held further into the academic year – for a full programme see here.

Finally, those of you who are not newcomers to the School may remember that last year we marked Black History Month by compiling a reading list of ‘essential texts’ on African and African Diaspora (including Black British, African American, and Afro European) histories. Many staff members pledged portions of their library allowance to buy any books on the list that were not held by the library.  When we compiled this reading list last year we acknowledged that by its nature it would always be a ‘work in progress’, which would require revising and updating as time went on.  This year, again, we would like to invite all students and staff to look through the reading list and let us know if there’s anything that’s not on there, that you think we should add.  Maybe you are new to St Andrews and are seeing the list with fresh eyes.  Maybe you’ve been here a while but have encountered a book in the past year – newly published or a classic in a field that’s new to you – that you think is now ‘essential reading’.  Please email any suggestions to Dr Kate Ferris (kf50) by the end of the month.  We’ll add these to the reading list, and if any are not already in the library’s collections we’ll do our best to purchase these.  In this way you’ll be making a tangible and lasting difference to the university’s holdings in the fields of Black and African diaspora histories that will help inform our research and teaching for years to come!

PhD Induction Day 2019

Blog written by Emily Betz. Emily is a third-year PhD student in Modern History studying the medical history in early modern England.

On Wednesday, September 18th the new cohort of history PhD students gathered at the beautiful Rufflets Hotel on the outskirts of St Andrews. The day began with the students getting to know each other over a cup of tea and a speed ice-breaker question series. After becoming better acquainted with each other’s academic and non-academic interests, we settled in to listen to Dr Emma Hart, the Director of Research Postgraduates and Elsie Johnstone, the School’s Postgraduate Administrator, speak about what the School of History offers its students. Their presentation gave a deeper insight into the School’s administrative processes and how it can support history students on the journey to a successful PhD.

The beautiful garden of the Rufflets Hotel.
Photo credit: Emily Betz

After a short coffee break, Dr Kate Ferris, chair of the School of History Equality & Diversity Committee, and Lenna Cumberbatch, University Equality & Diversity Adviser, spoke on the importance of knowing the University’s equality and diversity processes. Their interactive presentations imparted the necessity of respect in our academic environment and brought awareness to our biases, especially the unconscious ones that we all carry.  This was followed by a lovely walk in the Rufflets’ gardens while lunch was being prepared.

After a lunch of soup and sandwiches (with fantastic cake for dessert!), Dr Hart asked the group to think more about how to write a thesis and what stages we as researchers should go through during the PhD process. After discussing our methods as a group, we found that there are many individual ways of constructing a thesis—the important thing is to find a method that works best for you. While it’s easy to compare one PhD path to another and feel imposter syndrome, but Dr Hart warned against this in what would become the quote of the day: ‘Perfection is a unicorn’! The main takeaway was that there is no one correct way to be successful at your PhD.

The 2019 History PhD Induction group.
Photo credit: Emily Betz

Following in the same vein, the current PhD students talked about their own experiences and challenges with the PhD process. They echoed that perfection certainly is an unattainable goal and gave advice on how best to manage expectations and stay positive in what can be a grueling writing process. Their best pieces of advice included getting to know your PhD cohort, writing soon and often, and taking advantage of the various extra skills courses the university offers. After the current students spoke, it was time to get back in the taxis and make the short trip home to St Andrews–this time with more knowledge of the School of History and even more excitement for the 2019/20 academic year to begin!

Spring and Summer 2019 Round Up

News

Congratulations to Dr Arthur der Weduwen for being awarded the sixth Menno Hertzberger Aanmoedigingsprijs for his first book, Dutch and Flemish Newspapers of the Seventeenth Century (Brill, 2017). The prize, presented in The Hague at the Royal Library by the Menno Hertzbergerstichting and the Dutch Association of Antiquarians, is awarded every three or four years to a young scholar who has made a significant contribution to Dutch book history.

Congratulations to Professor Carole Hillenbrand who was awarded the Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society jointly with her husband Professor Robert Hillenbrand.  The honour is the most prestigious of the Society’s Awards and is presented periodically in recognition of outstanding contributions to scholarship in the field of Asian Studies.

Congratulations are in also in order for Dr Konrad Lawson for receiving one of four peer-nominated and peer-judged St Andrews Teaching Excellence awards for 2019. Also, congratulations to Dr Max Skjönsberg for being nominated for this year’s awards.

Congratulations also to Professor Elena Marushiakova for receiving an Honorary Membership from ReM ReM Club (Berlin, Germany) in recognition of her contribution to ‘Re:work’ and dedication to global labour history.

Last, but certainly not least, congratulations are in order for our newest Professor of History, James T. Palmer. Professor Palmer has been teaching at the University of St Andrews since 2007 and has made fantastic contributions to our knowledge of the early Middle Ages.

Staff Activity

On 20 March Dr Tomasz Kamusella delivered a talk titled ‘Communist Bulgaria’s Forgotten Ethnic Cleansing of Turks (1989): Thirty Years Later’ at South East European University in Tetovo, North Macedonia

In March Dr Sarah Frank went on an Erasmus Mobility + exchange to the Universite de Toulouse where she taught two undergraduate classes on French colonialism and ran a seminar for masters students.

On 4 April Professor James Palmer gave the 2019 Trinity-Worth Lecture in Dublin entitled  ‘Charlemagne’s sciences and the framing of Carolingian religion’.

On 10 April Dr Chandrika Kaul delivered two lectures titled ‘The Mahatma and the Media’ and ‘Imperial Media Events: The British Empire and India in the early twentieth century’ at the University of Lund, Sweden.

On 11-12 April Dr Thomasz Kamusella gave two papers, titled ‘The Un-Polish Poland, 1989 and the Illusion of Regained Historical Continuity’ and ‘The Material and Social Reality: Ontological and Epistemic Objectivity’ at the Department of History of the University of Tallinn. On 17-18 April he delivered ‘Creating Languages: Politics and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe’ and ‘The Forgotten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria’ at the Department of History of the University of Tartu in Estonia.

On 15-16 April Dr Rory Cox took part in the ‘NATO and Cultural Property Protection: Embracing New Challenges in the Era of Identity Wars’ conference in Brussels, organised by the Secretary General, Human Security Unit.

From 2-4 May the team of ERC advanced grant project RomaInterbellum took part in the Association for the Study of Nationalities World Convention in the special panel ‘Roma Civic Emacipation between the Two World Wars’. Professor Elena Marushiakova and Professor Veselin Popov presented on ‘Letter to Stalin: Roma Visions on Gypsy Policy in the Early USSR’; Dr Raluca Bianca Roman talked on ‘”The voice of the Roma”? National Identity, Ethnic Building and Regional Politics within Roma-led Publications in Interwar Romania’; and Dr Sofiya Zahova gave a talk entitled ‘Romani Self-representation in the “Gypsy Newspaper” of Interwar Yugoslavia’.

On 6 May Dr Justine Firnhaber-Baker gave a paper titled ‘States, Cities, and Seigneurs: Negotiating Power in the Western Mediterranean around 1250’ to the Medieval History Seminar at Martin-Luther-Universität in Halle, Germany.

On 9 May Dr Konrad Lawson gave the talk ‘Comparison and Connection in the Shadow of the Japanese Empire’ at the conference ‘Modern Japan in the Comparative Imagination’ at Durham University.

On 13 May Dr Tomasz Kamusella delivered the invited talk on ‘Language and Nationalism in the Southern Baltic Region’ for the workshop ‘New Nationalisms in the Baltic Sea Regions‘, at the University of Greifswald. On 15 May he spoke on ‘Russian: A World or National Language, and Geopolitics‘ at the Institut für Slavistik, University of Hamburg.

On 25 May Dr Chandrika Kaul was invited to present a paper on ‘Orwell, India and the BBC’ at the Rebel? Prophet? Relic? Perspectives on George Orwell conference at University College, London. On 27 May she delivered a guest lecture on ‘The Mahatma and the Media’, at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Transcultural Studies, University of Heidelberg. Dr Kaul also delivered a lecture on ‘Media and the British and Portuguese empires, themes in comparative perspective’, at the University of Birmingham on 29 May.

On 25 May Dr Rory Cox was interviewed for an episode of The Good Community podcast entitled ‘The Military, War, and the Common Good‘.

Throughout August Professor Rab Houston ran an exhibition at the National Records of Scotland entitled ‘Prisoners or Patients? – Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland‘.

New Publications

Brown, Michael. ‘War, Marriage, Tournament: Scottish Politics and the Anglo-French War, 1448-1450’. Scottish Historical Review 98, no. 1 (April 2019): 1-21.

Connolly, Margaret. ‘Late Medieval Books of Hours and their Early Tudor Readers in and around London’, in Manuscript and Print in Late Medieval and Tudor Britain: Essays in Honour of Professor Julia Boffey, edited by Tamara Atkin and Jaclyn Rajsic (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer, 2019): 107-21.

Cox, Rory. ‘Killing for culture: Responding to cultural heritage destruction as a security threat.’ Heritage in War (blog).  March 20, 2019. Accessed March 31, 2019.

Firnhaber-Baker, Justine.A Girl has a Name, and it’s not Mary Sue: Arya Stark was the Right Woman for the Job’, Newsweek (blog). 30 April 2019. Accessed 9 May 2019.

Haakonssen, Knud. ‘Millar and his circle. A preface’. History of European Ideas (April 2019): 1-3.

Hillenbrand, Carole. ‘The Assassins in fact and fiction: the Old Man of the Mountain‘, Medieval Warfare IX, no. 2 (2019): 22-35.

Hudson, John. ‘Reading Terminology in the Sources for the Early Common Law: Seisin, Simple and Not So Simple’, in English Legal History and Its Sources: Essays in Honour of Sir John Baker, edited by David Ibbetson, Neil Jones, and Nigel Ramsay (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019): 79-99.

Kamusella, Tomasz. ‘Art and sex in communist Albania’. New Eastern Europe (blog). April 10 2019. Accessed April 27 2019.

‘Bulgaria’s denial of its Ottoman past and Turkish identity’. New Eastern Europe (blog). March 24, 2019. Accessed April 14, 2019.

—‘Estonian Russian: If or when?New Eastern Europe (blog). 8 May 2019.  Accessed 9 May 2019.

Marushiakova, Elena and Vesselin Popov. ‘Цыганские миграции в Кавказском регионе: история и современность’. [‘Gypsy Migration in Caucasus region: history and present day’], in G. Hadzhimuratova & S. Ryazantsev, eds., ДЕМОГРАФИЧЕСКИЙ И МИГРАЦИОННЫЙ ПОРТРЕТ КАВКАЗА/Demographic and Migration Portrait of the Caucasus’ 5, no. 2 (Moscow: Ekon-Inform, 2019): 168-174.

—‘Migration, re-emigration and identities’ change: The case of one Roma group from USSR’. In H.Kyuchukov, J.Balvin, L. Kwadrans, eds., Life with Music and Pictures: Eva Davidová’s Contribution to Roma Musicology and Ethnography,  Roma 06 (München: Lincom Academic Publishers, 2019): 63-76.

McClure, Julia, Amitava Chowdhury, Sarah Easterby-Smith, Norberto Ferreras, Omar Gueye, Andrew MacKillop, Meha Priyadarshini, Steven Serels and Jelmer Vos, ‘Inequality and the Future of Global History: A Round Table Discussion’, Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies 3 (2019): 53-81.

Müller, Frank Lorenz. Die Thronfolger: Macht und Zukunft der Monarchie im 19. Jahrhundert. [Trans. Heirs to the Throne: Power and the Future of Monarchy in the 19th Century]. Munich:  Siedler Random House, 2019.

Murdoch, Steve. ‘”Breaching Neutrality”: English prize-taking and Swedish Neutrality in the First Anglo-Dutch War, 1651-1654’. Mariner’s Mirror 105, no. 2 (April 2019): 134-147.

Peacock, Andrew. ‘Arabic Manuscripts from Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, and the Literary Activities of Sultan Muhammad ‘Aydarus (1824-1851)’. Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 10, no. 1 (April 2019).

Randjbar-Daemi, Siavush. ‘Return of the Ayatollah: Islamic Revolution.’ History Today 69, no. 4 (April 2019).

Roman, Raluca Bianca. ‘Religious Humanitarianism and Fateful Orientations among Pentecostal Kaale.’ American Ethnological Society (blog). March 8, 2019. Accessed March 31, 2019.

Skjönsberg, Max. ‘Adam Ferguson on the Perils of Popular Factions and Demagogues in a Roman Mirror’, History of European Ideas  (online first 2019).

—‘Ancient Constitutionalism, Fundamental Law, and Eighteenth-Century Toryism in the Septennial Act (1716) Debates’, History of Political Thought,  no.  2 (2019): 270-301.

Student News: Introducing ‘Mer-Plant-Ilism’

Blog written by Christin Simons. Christin is a 3rd year PhD student at the Institute for Scottish History studying the perception of the Scandinavian East India Companies.

Elena Romero Passerin (left) and Christin Simons (right) with their new board game. Photo provided by Christin Simons.

PhD candidates Christin Simons and Elena Romero Passerin have shared an office in the Bute building since 2017. In 2018 they came up with the idea of creating a board game based on their PhD research. Combining the History of Botany and Maritime History resulted in a board game now funded by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. It was shown for the first time at the Doctoral Showcase in Glasgow on 20 June 2019.

Mer-Plant-Ilism is a strategy board game, in which players can play the character of a botanist from Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Sweden, or Austria traveling with trading company ships to collect exotic vegetal specimens from all over the world. The game is set in the frame of 18th century mercantilism and considers historical events of the time.

Mer-Plant-Ilism, the board game. Photo provided by Christin Simons.

Missions and event cards make the collecting of the plants a real challenge. The game can be played by up to 6 players. During the game players may trade with each other or form alliances, but beware, the odds can change within a single roll of the die!

Crisis or Enlightenment? 2019 USTC History of the Book Conference

Blog written by Elise Watson. Elise is a first year PhD student in the Reformation Studies Institute and part of the Universal Short Title Catalogue project. Her research focuses on the trade of Catholic books in the Dutch Golden Age, and she will be co-organising next year’s annual book conference on Gender and the Book Trades with Professor Helen Smith. 

On 20-22 June, scholars from as near as Church Street and as far as Colombia gathered for the annual conference hosted by the Universal Short Title Catalogue project, this year entitled ‘Crisis or Enlightenment?’. The conference, organised by St Andrews School of History postdoctoral researcher Dr. Arthur der Weduwen and Université Rennes 2 postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Ann-Marie Hansen, was also generously sponsored by the School of History of the University of St Andrews and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP). The conference consisted of eight panels, two keynotes and 24 presenters spread over three days. The chronological range of the conference’s presentations, which extended beyond the current scope of the USTC, both broadened the horizons of the project and explored some of the fundamental questions of early modern book history.

Conference co-organiser Dr. Anne-Marie Hansen address the attendees.
Photo credit: Nora Epstein

The first panel of the conference discussed networks and book distribution from Vienna to Edinburgh. From there, the conversation shifted to book collecting, in examples of parish libraries and Italian monastery libraries. After lunch, a panel on profits and markets discussed the marketing and sale of particular genres of books, including medical books in the Dutch Republic and school books in Catalonia, as well as examples of how (not) to run a print shop in the Enlightenment. The first day concluded with a plenary address by Professor Ian Maclean on the impact of academic journals on the German book fairs in the Enlightenment. After the work of the first day was done, presenters and attendees were treated to an exhibition from University Special Collections, a carefully curated and fascinating collection of early print.

Attendees peruse the Special Collections exhibition in College Hall, St Mary’s College
Photo credit: Nora Epstein

On the second day, the first panel discussed auction catalogues and collecting practices in Lübeck, French private libraries and Jewish collections in the Dutch Republic. The second panel, which dealt with newspapers and periodicals, discussed French language gazettes and discussions of comets in eighteenth-century ephemera. After lunch, three papers on science and censorship in Italy and the Spanish colonies shifted our understandings of the relationship between control and innovation in Enlightenment publishing. The second plenary of the conference, delivered by Professor Dominique Varry of the École nationale supérieure des sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques, delighted the crowd with a fascinating discussion and entertaining examples of false imprints in eighteenth-century French books, including a book claiming its origin in Hell, at the print shop of Beelzebub himself!

Image courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

The second day concluded with the launch of the conference volume Buying and Selling: The Business of Books in Early Modern Europe, edited by USTC alumna Dr. Shanti Graheli and published in Brill’s Library of the Written Word series. This was celebrated with a wine reception sponsored by SHARP.

The final day contained two further sessions. The first, on production, crisis and change, included a fascinating discussion of the impact of the Disaster Year of 1672 on print production in the Dutch Republic. The eighth and final panel included three papers on Enlightenment libraries, asking practical and interpretive questions of what we mean when we say ‘Enlightenment library’ and interrogating systems of organisation, annotation and use. Along with the presentations, I think all participants would agree that a great amount of collaboration and in-depth scholarly synthesis occurred during both the question and answer sessions, and later at the pub after the ideas presented had some time to digest. We are grateful for the help provided by everyone from St Andrews, especially the USTC summer interns, as well as all participants for their excellent and thought-provoking contributions! The conference proceedings will be edited by the co-organisers, Dr. Arthur der Weduwen and Dr. Ann-Marie Hansen, and published in Brill’s Library of the Written Word series.

For more reporting on the conference see the recent blog on the Preserving the World’s Rarest Books site, or follow the coverage on the Twitter hashtag #USTC19. Next year’s conference, entitled ‘Gender and the Book Trades’, is being organised by Professor Helen Smith (York) and myself (Elise Watson), and it will be held from 2-4 July 2020. For more information, please see https://www.ustc.ac.uk/conference!

Postgraduate Skills Seminar: Dr Gareth Williams, British Museum

Blog written by PhD student Christin Simons. Christin is a 3rd year PhD student at the Institute for Scottish History studying the perception of the Scandinavian East India Companies.

School of History, St John’s House
Photo credit: Emily Betz

On Thursday 11 April, Dr Gareth Williams from the British Museum visited St Andrews to discuss alternative career paths for PhD students considering a non-academic career. He spoke specifically on pathways to becoming a museum curator. This event was hosted under the sponsorship of the University’s Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development (CAPOD) under the Quality Assurance Agency Scotland (QAA) thematic initiative ‘Transitions’.

Dr Williams, who has been a curator with the British Museum since 1996, managed to both promote the career possibilities for becoming a museum curator while being candid about the challenges of the job at the same time. He painted a realistic picture of the work in a museum, which comes with limited career development and lack of funding opportunities, but his enthusiasm for working in the field still made it an attractive opportunity to pursue after finishing one’s PhD. For the attendees without a degree in Museum Studies, it was especially encouraging to hear that it is possible to enter the museum world by way of internships, volunteering or trainee curatorship. As well as responsibilities like the management of collections, public engagement and exhibition display, Dr Williams gave further insight into the ‘less obvious things’ that come with being a museum curator, like the teaching, training and mentoring of doctoral students.

The attendees commented on the practical value of the session. Matthew Ylitalo, PhD candidate in Modern History, stated that he appreciated the field previously but admittedly had not seriously considered entering it, having thought that not having a postgrad degree in museum studies excluded him.  He noted ‘Gareth quickly put all of that to rest when he introduced the state of the field and its possibilities.  To my surprise, there are a number of non-traditional pathways into curatorial work. Even if I do not pursue full-time employment with a museum, Gareth convinced me that volunteering with a museum or project could be a fulfilling and much appreciated prospect’. Another attendee, Chelsea Reutke, PhD candidate in Early Modern History, liked the speaker’s enthusiasm and helpfulness in answering questions. ‘He conveyed both the exciting opportunities as well as the pragmatic realities of working in museums. After attending his talk, I feel that I have a solid understanding of the requirements of different types of museums. Museums remain one of my career paths after my PhD, and I now feel that I know what it will take and what to look for’. Echoing that sentiment, Clémentine Anne, PhD candidate in Modern History, declared, ‘I think I am now more aware of the reality of the job and can reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of a career in museums.’

The overall consensus was that this was an extremely informed and useful session, and we thank Dr Williams for sharing his experience with us.